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Charter school champion
Charter school champion

IN ADAM REID'S basement, bottles of champagne await the opening celebration of Portland's Leadership and Entrepreneurship Public Charter High School (LEP High).

The school, which Reid '03 co-founded and now serves as director of development, opened in fall 2006, yet the champagne remains.

"Every time I think I want to bring it out, something happens," says Reid, who is working to fill a budget deficit, boost recruitment efforts, and meet fundraising goals. "I feel like it's premature to celebrate, because we still have these huge things to do that are so essential."

As a public school, LEP High is open to everyone, but it targets underserved populations, with 65 percent of its students coming from low-income families and more than 50 percent representing minorities. The school with its 300 students is located at 2044 E. Burnside.

Much like Portland State, LEP High works to get students out in the community through internships and projects, focusing their attention on "how to think" as much as "what to think," says Reid.

This past March, Reid, 28, was raising funds to cushion the blow of two state budget cuts, when Portland Public Schools denied renewal of LEP High's charter because of a $143,000 deficit.

Reid worked with passionate students, staff, and community members to raise $80,000 in donations and secure $70,000 in grants to erase the deficit, convincing the school board to overturn its decision and ensure the school's existence for at least another three years. But just hours later the state announced another round of budget cuts.

"We had three hours of enjoyment," says Reid. "It's always been like that. There's almost an indefinable amount of obstacles that we have to keep dodging and negotiating being a charter school."

Reid, who went on to earn a master's degree from Stanford University, credits his experiences as a Student Leader for Service and a University Studies mentor at PSU for helping him form the foundation for LEP High and giving him the confidence and skills to persevere through all the hurdles.

After three years of ups and downs, LEP High will graduate its first class of seniors in spring 2010. Reid is hoping graduation will be a perfect time for champagne.

By Ian Ruder '04