Last year, Portland Public Schools analyzed four recent elections in which the district had asked voters for money.
PPS then created a map that showed the voting results by precinct. The map revealed a noticeable divide.
Support for school money measures (including 2012’s $482 million construction bond) was softer on Portland’s more-affluent westside.
The district has contemplated asking voters for as much as $638 million in bonds in November 2016 to rebuild schools. A poll commissioned by PPS, however, showed voters wouldn’t support a measure that authorized more than $556.5 million, about the same amount they rejected in 2011.
Meanwhile, PPS also began redrawing school boundaries—an endeavor that angered some families whose kids must shift to new schools. The district launched the process citywide in 2015.
Then, in January 2016, Superintendent Carole Smith abruptly changed course, saying she would implement the controversial changes first on the westside, where, perhaps coincidentally, support for a bond measure is weakest.
District spokeswoman Christine Miles says Smith’s decision had nothing to do with politics—only policy.