November 8th, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, Schools

Portland Schools to Consider $548 Million Construction Bond

School Board meeting

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith will pitch a six-year, $548 million construction bond to the Portland School Board tonight as part of her plan to rehabilitate the district's aging campuses.

The bond, which would cost an average homeowner in the school district about $300 a year in additional property taxes, goes to the School Board for a vote on Dec. 13. If approved by the board, the bond would head to the May ballot for a vote by district voters.

The elements of Smith's plan, which could undergo revisions by the School Board, include:

  • Brand new campuses for eight schools, including Cleveland, Jefferson and Roosevelt high schools as well as Fabion, Laurelhurst, Markham, Rigler and fire-damaged Marysville. Smith says Jefferson would be rebuilt with a far smaller footprint to accommodate only 700 students. Lincoln High, which sits inside the boundaries of Mayor Sam Adams' newly proposed urban-renewal district, would get plans for a new design under the bond proposal's current guidelines.

  • Thirty-eight K-8 and middle schools would get new science labs.

  • Thirty-three elementary schools would get covered playgrounds. But that proposal comes with no guarantee that the school district won't again consider cutting PE.

  • All 85 schools in the district will get new security systems that would allow teachers to have access to buildings using key-cards.

Earlier this school year, PPS commissioned a poll that suggested a majority of voters would support a construction bond in the neighborhood of $500 million. To support the campaign, PPS has commissioned a second study to evaluate how many jobs the construction projects might generate.

If voters approved this measure in May, it would not end PPS's fundraising. A five-year local-option levy that expires in 2012 will have to be renewed no later than May 2012. Also, PPS officials say if this new construction bond gets approval from voters, they hope to renew it in 2017 and again later in order to clear its backlog of maintenance needs.
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