Portland Public Schools will move forward with plans to ask voters to support a bond this November.

The school board agreed Tuesday night to a staff plan to move quickly to get a bond ready for voters. The bond would maintain the district’s multi-year schedule to renovate and modernize aging school buildings in Oregon’s largest school district.

Staff and the board’s School Improvement Bond committee had been discussing whether to push the bond to 2021, to allow more time to plan and build support for it.

Newly elected board member Andrew Scott chairs the bond committee.

“When you look at the need to complete Benson [Polytechnic High School] … when you look at the health and safety issues as well, this is really, really urgent, and I think we have an opportunity here,” Scott said.

PPS has been dealing with community distrust since overly optimistic cost projections resulted in 2017 bond plans going millions over budget. The biggest sacrifice of that bond’s financial problems was to phase the Benson construction with funds from a future bond.

Before the board’s vote Tuesday, Scott mentioned a few accountability measures for the district, including a bond accountability committee. Scott also said the district has more accurate cost estimation mechanisms.

There are still some things to figure out – like how much the bond amount will be, and what school projects will be included. Concerns remain about whether the district has enough staff capacity to put together the bond proposal.

According to a draft bond schedule, the bond package will be finalized around June.

Both the Portland school board and district staff promise engagement and transparency with potential voters.

“We have a lot to do between now and referral and now between the election,” Scott said. 

November’s ballot will likely be a crowded one – with a Metro transportation bond and numerous other measures and candidates also up for a vote this fall.