Portland Public Schools $548 million bond could put trades union members to work


Portland Public Schools may ask district voters in May to approve $548 million in bonds to upgrade school buildings.

District Superintendent Carole Smith presented the proposal Nov. 8 to the school board, which will hold a Dec. 1 hearing, and then vote Dec. 13 whether to refer the local bond measure to the May 2011 ballot.

Paul Riggs, executive secretary-treasurer of the Columbia Pacific Building and Construction Trades Council, voiced support for the bond measure, calling it “long overdue.”

“It will make the schools safer and more economical to operate, and put hundreds of people in the construction industry to work,” Riggs said.

The bond would pay to completely rebuild eight schools, build new science labs in 38 elementary and middle schools, put up covered playgrounds at 33 elementary schools, and install new security systems for all 85 district schools. Schools that would be rebuilt include Jefferson, Roosevelt and Cleveland high schools, and Marysville, Faubion, Laurelhurst, Rigler and Markham K-8 and elementary schools. The work would include electrical, HVAC, roofing, boiler replacement, and landscaping.

Work would begin summer 2011 if voters approve the bond issue. Bonds would be repaid over six years by a property tax of about $2 per $1,000 of assessed value, a cost of about $25 a month for the median homeowner.

Portland Public Schools commissioned a study of the measure’s impact on the local economy, including the number of jobs that would be created. The study had not been completed as of press time.

The Portland School Board will hold a public hearing on the proposal 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, in the board auditorium at 501 N. Dixon.


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