Portland Schools Make Plans to Enter the 21st Century

A meeting was held Thursday night at the home of former school board co-chair Julie Brim-Edwards to sound out the local Portland Public Schools community about a long-planned bond measure that would update all of PPS’s nearly 100 school buildings. About 50 parents and school volunteers attended and were given the details of the plan thus far by board member Bobbie Regan. The cash-strapped district has seen property tax revenues fall far behind property values due to property-tax limitations. PPS has been in a holding mode of trying to maintain its infrastructure as it steadily declines since much of it was built over 70 years ago. Many building still use out of date, environmentally inefficient bunker-oil fueled boilers such as King School. According to Ms. Regan, the custodial staff at Faubion told her the boiler there requires 7 hours of cleaning per week to keep it operating safely.

The bond measure, if the board votes to put it on the ballot this fall, will prioritize high schools for most of the initial work so that the maximum number of current PPS students and parents will see a benefit. The improvements could take 30 years to complete and will involve whole buildings being gutted and rebuilt. Jefferson, Roosevelt and Cleveland High Schools would be the first three. Jefferson will become the new middle college program for all of Portland and its graduates will leave with college credit, easing their transition to higher education and on track to a career. The new campus will be closely integrated with PCC Cascade campus across Killingsworth.

In addition to the three high schools slated for total overhaul in the first round, money from the first bond (the bond will be up for renewal every six years until work is complete) will be available to bring all Portland high school facilities up to more suburban-level standards with respect to science lab and sports facilities. With the newfound appeal of urban living and the walkable neighborhood, the investment in public institutions and facilities is lagging behind ideals. Approximately 80% of Portlanders don’t have school age children and therefore are not intimately aware of the need for this update. With investment in schools, stable, multigenerational neighborhoods with people invested in their local community and higher property values will result.

Learn more on the PPS site: http://www.pps.k12.or.us/departments/schoolmodernization/index.htm