Five years ago, Portland voters approved what was then a record $482 million bond to renovate and rebuild four schools – Roosevelt High School, Franklin High School, Grant High School and Faubion K-8 – and repair dozens of other schools. Now, the school board is asking for another $790 million to renovate and rebuild four more schools, make smaller repairs on other schools, and conduct health and safety updates to fix dangerous lead, asbestos and radon issues.
How much you’ll pay
The bond won’t come cheap to homeowners. It will cost $1.40 per $1,000 of assessed home value for the first four years and less after that, with an average of $0.68 per $1,000 over 30 years. That shakes out to $280 for each of the first four years for a homeowner with a home tax-assessed at $200,000, and an average of $136 annually over 30 years.
Homeowners are still paying back the 2012 bond, with the last payment posting in 2032. The 2012 bond cost $1.10 per $1,000 for the first eight years and 30 cents per $1,000 for the next 12 years (an average of $124 a year overall for a home tax-assessed at $200,000).
What the bond will do
Portland schools are very old – 77 years on average – and with that comes a host of health and safety issues. Last year, testing showed nearly all Portland schools had high lead levels in the water from sinks, spigots or drinking fountains. Many schools are also hotbeds for peeling lead paint, radon and asbestos. Portland Public Schools says $150 million of the bond money will go toward immediately addressing those issues district-wide. That portion will also fund some roof replacements, upgrade security, fix fire systems and improve ADA access.
The remaining $640 million will rebuild and renovate four schools: Benson, Madison and Lincoln high schools, and Kellogg middle school. Benson, Madison and Kellogg are in disrepair, according to school officials. Lincoln isn’t in as bad shape but it’s severely overcrowded. PPS spokesman Dave Northfield said generally, it takes about two years to complete a high school renovation but the construction timeline has not yet been set.
Who supports it
Portland students have lobbied for the bond, conducting a sit-in at a school board meeting and a school walk-out last September to push for the bond on the May ballot.
The school bond also has support from every major local newspaper and many public officials, including the mayor. There is no organized opposition to the bond.
What the 2012 bond is doing
The district has made quick work of the 2012 bond money, with Roosevelt High School, Franklin High School and Faubion K-8 renovations expected to finish in August 2017. Construction starts on Grant High School in June 2017, and that project should be done by August 2019.
KGW’s Fly8 drone flew over the new Franklin High School Tuesday.
Most of the schools slated to received safety upgrades have already, but that work is continuing at some more schools this summer.