Feb. 28, 2017: Tonight, the Portland Public Schools Board of Education approved a resolution to refer a capital construction bond to Portland voters for the May 16, 2017 ballot. This proposed bond is the second in the series to fully modernize school sites across the district over the next few decades.
Portland Public Schools (PPS) is the largest school district in Oregon, with over 90 school sites and 48,500 students. PPS’ buildings average 77 years old—many are over 100 years old.
Aging schools need repair and upgrades to provide students with modern learning environments and to address unsafe conditions. Lead testing in 2016 showed most schools had cold water fixtures testing above the EPA action level. Many roofs are beyond their useful life and some leak frequently. Fire alarm and sprinkler systems at most schools are inadequate.
If passed, what would the proposed bond do?
The proposed $790,000,000 bond would fund renovations and additions at Benson and Madison High Schools, and full rebuilds of Lincoln High School and Kellogg Middle School.
Approximately 30% of the budgets for these projects comprehensively address health and safety issues, including lead and asbestos abatement, roof repairs, seismic upgrades, and accessibility improvements in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
If approved by voters, the proposed bond would also fund planning for upgrades of Cleveland, Jefferson, and Wilson High Schools as part of the next series of school modernizations.
Additionally, if the bond passes, at least $150 million would fund district-wide health and safety projects, including:
If this measure is approved, PPS will also receive $8 million in state capital matching funds, and the funds would be put toward additional health and safety investments. If the proposed bonds are not approved, funds will be awarded to another district.
If passed, what would the proposed bond cost?
The average levy rate for the proposed bond issue is estimated to be $0.68 per $1,000 of assessed value over 30 years. The levy rate is estimated to be $1.40 per $1,000 for the first four years, declining thereafter. For a house assessed at $200,000 the initial annual cost would be about $280. Overall average cost is $136 annually. The total principal amount of bonds authorized by this measure cannot exceed $790 million.
As with the 2012 capital improvement bond, an independent group of citizens from the community will review quarterly reports and audits of how the proposed bond dollars are being spent to provide accountability to the public until construction is complete.