Portland schools push to renew bond for ‘100-year investments’

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The bond does not raise taxes, it's a renewal of the current tax rate from 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — There is a billion-dollar tax issue on the ballot for Portland-area residents this year. Measure 26-215 is a Portland Public Schools bond measure that would raise more than a billion dollars to continue to improve the city’s aging school buildings.

Wilson High School is among the schools that would benefit if the $1.2 billion bond measure passes.

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The bond money is designed to complete the renovation of Benson Polytech High School and get to work on renovations for Jefferson High School. Work would also get underway for design and plans to renovate Cleveland and Wilson High.

“Jefferson is really at the heart of this package. We have a 20-30 year plan to remodel and renovate all of our schools, and the renovation of Jefferson would be in this package. This school was built in 1908,” said Julia Brim-Edwards, Portland School Board member.

Even though students are not in the buildings this year due to the pandemic, the school board says the bond is part of the district’s long-term goal to update and modernize school facilities.

“These are investments, not just for next year, but really these are 100-year investments,” said Brim-Edwards. “Like in 1908, the community made an investment in this community.”

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Some of the money would also go toward a center for Black Student Excellence, replace old textbooks, improve security, and make PPS buildings more accessible to people with disabilities.

“When you go into that building, the message it sends to students is not a positive one,” said Brim-Edwards. “And if you look at the upgrades that happened at Grant and Franklin, you’ll see those environments are ones in which students will be supported and ready to learn, and have access to what they need in order to leave high school and be ready for the next steps in life.”

The bond does not raise taxes. It is a renewal of the current tax rate from the 2017 bond—that’s $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed value, which is $1,000 on a $400,000 home. This bond is part of a series of bond measures approved by voters in 2012 and 2017 to fix up Portland schools, which serve more than 49,000 students.

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