Past Bond Efforts
Portland Public Schools is the largest public school district in Oregon, with more than 47,000 students. The district currently manages 8.37 million square feet of facilities on 693 acres of property. PPS buildings average 65 years in age; most were built in the 1920s,1940s, and 1950s. Considerable advancements have been made in building code, technology, and teaching practices since PPS schools were originally constructed.
Voters passed a $197 million bond in 1995 to address the considerable technology, seismic, accessibility, and building improvement needs. The bond work added computer labs to schools, seismic reinforcements (with a focus on safe existing), and improved access through new ramps, handrails and elevators. For more: 1995 bond.
While the improvements made by the 1995 bond had lasting value to the district, much work remained.
Why Capital Bonds?
The school district's taxing authority is limited by law. Currently, PPS uses property taxes and construction excise tax to address capital needs. The construction excise tax is generated when the City of Portland issues building permits.
PPS is leveraging proposed bond funding through operational and capital partnerships with the city, the Portland Development Commission, higher education and the business community. The state has a very tight budget, and unlike many other states, does not offer matching dollars for school construction. There are some state grants for specific purposes, and PPS applies when those opportunities are available.