PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland voters will have a chance to decide whether to invest another $790 million in the city's largest public school district.

On Tuesday, the Portland Public Schools board approved placing a major bond measure on the May 16, 2017, ballot. The measure is intended to continue an ongoing modernization of school sites throughout the district.

The district serves more than 48,000 students and has close to 100 school sites. According to school officials, the average age of those buildings is 77 years old.

In addition to facilities upgrades, the district is working to address issues with lead levels as testing has found levels of lead in water above the recommended measures set by federal regulators.

For a Portland homeowner, the bond measure would add about $24 a month annually per each $200,000 of assessed home value.

According to a district news release:

"The proposed $790,000,000 bond would fund renovations and additions at Benson and Madison High Schools, and full rebuilds of Lincoln High School and Kellogg Middle School.

Approximately 30% of the budgets for these projects comprehensively address health and safety issues, including lead and asbestos abatement, roof repairs, seismic upgrades, and accessibility improvements in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If approved by voters, the proposed bond would also fund planning for upgrades of Cleveland, Jefferson, and Wilson High Schools as part of the next series of school modernizations.

Additionally, if the bond passes, at least $150 million would fund district-wide health and safety projects, including:

  • Replacing old pipes and fixtures to reduce lead, improve water quality, and reduce the need to use bottled water;
  • Removing or encapsulating exposed lead paint and asbestos;
  • Upgrading fire alarm and/or sprinkler systems;
  • Repairing or replacing leaking or deteriorating school roofs;
  • Improving accessibility for people with disabilities;
  • Improving building foundations and ventilation to decrease radon exposure; and
  • Strengthening school safety and security.

If this measure is approved, PPS will also receive $8 million in state capital matching funds, and the funds would be put toward additional health and safety investments. If the proposed bonds are not approved, funds will be awarded to another district.

If passed, what would the proposed bond cost?

The average levy rate for the proposed bond issue is estimated to be $0.68 per $1,000 of assessed value over 30 years. The levy rate is estimated to be $1.40 per $1,000 for the first four years, declining thereafter. For a house assessed at $200,000 the initial annual cost would be about $280. Overall average cost is $136 annually. The total principal amount of bonds authorized by this measure cannot exceed $790 million.


As with the 2012 capital improvement bond, an independent group of citizens from the community will review quarterly reports and audits of how the proposed bond dollars are being spent to provide accountability to the public until construction is complete."