There seems to be little debate about the dilapidated state of school buildings in Portland. The average school in the Portland Public School district is 65 years old, and only two schools have been built in the last 30 years. Some say that repairs can wait. Others say they can’t.
Portland Public Schools is asking voters to approve a $548 million bond to rebuild and repair schools. The bond increase would add two dollars per thousand dollars of assessed value to every homeowner’s property taxes. For a home assessed at $150,000, that’s about $300.
The bond would rebuild nine schools and upgrade 76 others. Portlanders for Schools supports the bond. They say that schools are a safety hazard and need to be updated. Learn Now, Build Later opposes the bond. They argue that the bond is too expensive and shouldn’t be funded during a recession.
Portland Public Schools is also asking voters to increase an existing levy by $19 million to pay for teachers. The levy would increase a homeowner’s property taxes by about $110 for a home assessed at $150,000. If both the levy and the bond pass, they’ll increase that home’s property taxes by about about $410.
Supporters say the levy would protect the jobs of 600 teachers. It’s been endorsed by The Oregonian and Willamette Week, but opponents say that the levy would continue to prop up an inefficient education system.
How will you be voting? Do you think that repairs on schools in Portland can wait? Or have they been put off for too long? Do you support a levy to employ teachers? Or do you agree with opponents who say that the levy would only sustain a system that is fundamentally broken?
- Betsy Hammond: Education reporter for The Oregonian
- Mark Weiner: Political consultant for Portlanders for Schools
- Lainie Block Wilker: Campaign worker for Learn Now, Build Later
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OPB | Feb. 22, 2017