Portland Public Schools gave a preview Tuesday of what its modernized schools look like. The tour came just before voters decide on a large bond later this month.
The district offered a tour of the remodeled facilities at Benjamin Franklin High School, which include a gymnasium, auditorium, and classrooms for culinary arts and sports medicine.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler attended the tour.
“We cannot have a successful or a thriving city unless our students are educated well,” he said. “And educating our students well includes the facilities in which education takes place.”
Franklin is one of four schools that has a remodel included in a bond passed by voters in 2012. Both Franklin and Roosevelt High Schools, as well as Faubion PK-8 are set to reopen this fall.
Grant High School was also on the 2012 bond. Construction there is set to start this summer, to be completed in fall 2019.
Interim Superintendent Bob McKean emphasized the district’s future plans in remarks at the Franklin High work site.
“Our schools are aging, they need repair,” McKean said. “They need to be modernized to the 21st century learning centers that students need to have.”
Portland Public Schools hopes to continue to remodel and rebuild the schools in the district over the course of 30 years.
Upgrades to four more buildings — Lincoln, Benson and Madison high schools along with Kellogg Middle School — will be paid for if voters decide to pass a $790 million bond that’s on the May 16 ballot.
PPS officials hope Tuesday’s tour of Franklin will inspire confidence in parents who have been critical of the district in recent years, particularly over facility issues such as the handling of lead in school drinking water last year.
If passed, the May school bond would become the largest in state history.