Proposed school construction bond: M 26-144
August 20, 2012: Portland Public Schools is the largest school district in Oregon, with 78 schools and over 47,000 students. On average, Portland Public Schools’ buildings are older than 65 years. Some were built over 100 years ago. More than half of PPS schools were built before 1940. Only two schools have been built in the last 30 years.
A proposed $482 million school construction bond (M 26-144), which is on the November 2012 ballot, would fund school upgrades that would:
- Replace leaking, worn or deteriorating school roofs.
- Renovate Franklin High School, Grant High School and Roosevelt High School, and replace Faubion PreK-8 school. (It would also begin planning for the upgrade of all high schools in coming years.)
- Reinforce schools against earthquakes.
- Repay previous loans that funded 9 roof replacements, 47 boiler conversions, and the Rosa Parks School.
- Increase access to schools for students, teachers and visitors with disabilities.
- Upgrade science classrooms at middle grade schools.
Long-range facilities plan
Priorities in the proposed bond were guided by a plan developed by the Long-Range Facility Plan Advisory Committee, which was led by citizen volunteers.
The Long-Range Facility Plan Advisory Committee reviewed enrollment forecasts and assessments of facilities conditions, including seismic safety and accessibility for schools. The facilities assessments were used to rate the school buildings most in need of major repair, complete upgrade or replacement.
The Long-Range Facility Plan states that Portland Public Schools should create effective, accessible and inclusive learning environments that help all students achieve. The entire committee agreed that capital bonds would be required in order to renovate/replace facilities and meet enrollment requirements in the next 10 years.
Based on public comment (which included testimony at public meetings and responses to surveys), the Portland School Board prioritized: high schools, seismic upgrades, increased accessibility and existing partnerships that include capital funding commitments that leverage bond funds.
Franklin, Grant and Roosevelt high schools are rated in ‘poor’ seismic condition and require significant upgrades to increase access for the disabled. A partnership with Concordia University would provide capital funds to support the replacement of Faubion PreK-8.
Cost and accountability
A Citizen Accountability Committee would oversee the bond program. Bond projects and expenditures would be audited annually.
School construction bond funds can only be spent on school building upgrades, renovations and replacements. They cannot be used to fund teachers or educational programs.
The cost of the $482 million bond for the first eight years is estimated at $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed property value — dropping to about thirty cents per $1,000 for an additional 12 years. For this measure, the cost for a house assessed at $150,000 for property tax purposes would be about $165 a year for eight years, then dropping to about $45 per year for the remaining 12 years.
This text has been reviewed by the Elections Division of the Oregon Secretary of State.