Records released this week by Portland Public Schools include 13 pages of known asbestos in school buildings and a shorter list of prioritized lead paint problems in schools. The district cautions that the lists are not complete and represent a “sampling” of problems, for purposes of planning future remediation projects that could be included in a possible capital bond this fall.
Portland Public Schools Asbestos Problems
Data: Portland Public Schools
The recently released documents also show Portland Public Schools Senior Director of Facilities David Hobbs advising his superiors of “major” health hazards posed by lead in drinking water a month before the public was made aware of problems in two schools. Hobbs’ message suggested there were 15 “priority” schools, where addressing lead in drinking water would cost about $7 million.
PPS released a breakdown of some of the biggest repair needs. Some of the schools facing the costliest needs are not getting fixed right away. That’s because they’re high schools and the district’s plan is to rebuild them, rather than make incremental fixes.
Records released this week list nearly $5 million of needs at Benson High School and more than $7.6 million at Grant High. Lincoln High has $3.3 million in repair needs and Madison’s costs would be around $3.2 million. The spreadsheet summarizing safety issues at Portland Public Schools covered areas such as roofs in need of replacement, seismic upgrades, poorly sealed walls, and insufficient or failing fire alarms and sprinklers.
Total repairs for those kinds of needs districtwide exceed $96 million.
None of the above high schools are scheduled to get short-term fixes because they’re all planned for total rebuilds in the years to come.
Grant High School is first on the list. There’s money in the bond voters approved in 2012 to start building a new Grant High School next summer. It’s scheduled to be complete by fall 2019, at an estimated cost of nearly $112 million.
New buildings for Benson, Lincoln and Madison have a more distant and less certain future. The three high schools have been master-planned for possible reconstruction. But the proposed funding source is a 2016 bond measure. The Portland school board hasn’t decided what will be included in that bond measure, or even determined that the district will definitely put a bond on the November ballot.
Brewing controversy around lead in drinking water has gotten the district’s bond committee to explore replacing one of the high schools with a package of health and safety improvements districtwide.
The projected cost of all three high school rebuilds is more than $600 million, according to preliminary estimates. School board members have said that $600 million is about the ceiling for a bond measure.