The Portland Public Schools Board of Education voted 7-0 Tuesday night to send a $790,000,000 bond to the voters in May.
If passed the bond would pay for health and safety improvements to school buildings across the district.
Portland Public Schools has been dealing with lead in the drinking water, in the paint on the walls, and asbestos.
The district adds 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.
Strengthening school safety and security.
Supporters say the $790,000,000 bond would also fund renovations and additions at Benson and Madison High Schools, and full rebuilds of Lincoln High School and Kellogg Middle School.
The bond is the highest amount the district has ever asked for.
“I’m excited and it has been a long time coming,” Lincoln High School volunteer Jason Trombley said. “Over the snowstorm in January a number of the roofs started leaking and so our book room got flooded, a number of classrooms got flooded. So the building is far out of date and it is long over due.”
Virginia La Forte, a parent and member of the Bond Stake Advisory Group says it is an investment Portlanders need to make.
“It really truly is an investment in our future. It is not only an investment in our children and our teachers but it is an investment in our city and this is our city infrastructure we are talking about,” La Forte said.
At Tuesday nights meeting no one spoke out in opposition to the bond or the board voting to send it to the voters.
Opponents argue the $790,000,000 price tag could prompt voters to say no.
The district said in a press release:
The average levy rate for this 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.
Voters will be decided the fate of the bond on May 16, 2017.
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