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Biking and the school bond measure

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 9th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Beach Elem. School encourages biking and walking-3
The public school bond would boost
bike project budget.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The Portland Public School district is in the final weeks of pushing for a bond measure and levy that seeks to raise $548 million through increased property taxes. The money would be used to rebuild, renovate, and improve nearly 100 schools throughout Portland.

What does this have to do with bicycling?

Not only are neighborhood schools, biking, and the urban environment linked in important ways, the PPS bond measure offers a much more tangible benefit for our communities: If passed, the bond would set aside $5 million to be spent on transportation improvements administered by the City's Safe Routes to School program.

Back in March, PPS and the City of Portland agreed to work together to prioritize and fund transportation projects. Here's an excerpt from the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which was signed by PPS Superintendent Carole Smith and Mayor Sam Adams (PDF here):

"Reducing the number of students brought to school in private vehicles mutually benefits the City, the District, and the community by decreasing traffic and parking congestion, reducing traffic and parking complaints, increasing efficiencies, reducing environmental impacts and creating safer traffic flow around schools"

According to the MOU, the City would work with PPS to create a master project list for potential improvements that would be implemented throughout the six-year lifespan of the bond program (2011-2017).

Southeast Portland bike shop Clever Cycles has put their support fully behind the measure. On Friday, the shop announced they'd give 10% of sales revenue to the Portland Schools Foundation.

Why would a bike shop support a tax increase for public schools?

Shop co-owner Todd Fahrner wrote on their website,

"... We think car-free and car-lite families, unburdened by the rising costs of motoring that send wealth out of state, should step up to protect and improve the crumbling treasures we have in our neighborhoods... We support well-funded neighborhood schools because they are essential to what we love about Portland, its scale and pace, and the sufficiency and dignity of human power in getting around it, whether you’re 8 or 80."


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Comments
  • cold worker May 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    my ex is a teacher with PPS and she's voting no. she's ultra liberal and not some anti-tax crusader by a long shot. i get to hear lots of anecdotal stories of mismanagement and waste. her being a teacher and voting no seems pretty convincing to me that i may be inclined to vote no as well.

    i'm not a parent but at 35, most of my peers are, and a surprising number of them have grumbled about this bond measure. hmmm.

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    • gregg woodlawn May 9, 2011 at 5:05 pm

      I'm Votng YES!
      The two measures on the ballot are for Portland Public Schools. One pays for badly needed upgrades to school buildings, the other for teachers.
      The condition of our local schools isn’t just a problem; it’s a crisis:
      Nearly all Portland’s schools were built before the polio vaccine was invented and few have received significant updates. Buildings don’t meet earthquake safety codes.
      Many are heated by boilers from the 1950s that use a piece of string as their fire safety switch, and two of them have recently caught on fire.
      Asbestos leaking from pipes into some hallways and classrooms requires the posting of cancer warning signs in the schools.
      Carbon monoxide and dioxide reach dangerous levels in some classrooms due to lack of adequate ventilation.
      Lighting is poor and electrical wiring doesn’t support modern technology, and the temperature controls are so old that the buildings are either too cold or too hot.
      Do we really think these are acceptable conditions for our kids to face every day we send them to school?
      Portland is the only district of 20 in the metro area without a bond measure in place to fund facilities. Currently no tax dollars in Portland go to fund upkeep of school buildings.
      You can make a difference to our kids. Vote Yes on Measure 26-121. This measure will:
      Make critical safety improvements and classroom updates at every single school in Portland, including basic systems, like fire and earthquake safety;
      Rebuild 9 schools too costly to repair, one in each part of the city;
      Complete all this work within 6 years, with short-term bond funding, saving over $200 million in interest payments and benefiting more students in a short time than traditional bonds.
      But there’s more to Portland’s school problems that the physical condition of our schools. Portland Public School’s current levy supports 400 teachers. That levy is expiring and state budget cuts may take another $30 million. Measure 26-122 would continue funding for the 400 teachers currently funded and add funding for an additional 200 teachers whose positions will be lost if we don’t step up to the plate. If the levy fails to win voter approval, class sizes in every school would increase. Big classes mean less teacher attention to our kids.
      Onward Oregon asks, is this really the kind of education we want for our children? We think the answer is no, and we think you do, too. Vote Yes on Measure 26-122.
      The Future of Portland Public Schools
      We can make a difference in the education of our children. We can decide that unsafe school buildings are unacceptable for our kids. We can ensure that our children get the attention from their teachers that they deserve. If this isn’t worth paying for, what is?
      Vote Yes on Measures 26-121 and 26-122. Our children are depending on us.
      For more information on these measures, go to http://portlandersforschools.org/

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      • Dale May 9, 2011 at 5:38 pm

        I voted no, as did all the other members in my household. PPS should have been performing maintainence that that have let go for years. If you don't maintain your home, things break down. School buildings are the same. Plus, these bond issues will raise our taxes another 500 dollars per year, at a time when we can il afford it. And, don't get me started on Maryville.

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  • Mike May 9, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I'm voting no as well. I would have been much more inclined, but the money I would have spent on this is now going to elephants.

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  • Nick V May 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I'm undecided as well. I'm all for kids biking to school but my property taxes are plenty high as it is.

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  • Bryn D May 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    This bond is the first step in a multi-year plan to rebuild Portland Schools. I believe in Carole Smith's vision on this bond and the difference it will make for the kids plus active transportation. Please vote YES on the Bond and the levy.

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    • Responsible Civics May 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm

      Exactly! It's just the another step to continuous, ever increasing and never ending bonds that will push middle class home owners out of their homes. Until PPS can demonstrate lean and effective fund management why should any progessive person reward them with more money?

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  • Chris May 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I am voting no. I usually support everything education, but I am so sick of the only people paying for anything in this city being homeowners. Until Oregon pulls its head out and implements a sales tax so that we are ALL paying for the services we may or may not use, I am not going to support any more property tax increases.

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    • Perry Hunter May 9, 2011 at 3:29 pm

      Well, that's not true, renters pay the cost of the landlord's expenses for property taxes, water and sewer - but I'm right there with you on the rationale for a sales tax. The boom and bust funding cycles have got to go.

      I must vote no on the capital improvements bond. PPS needs to divest itself of surplus property, consolidate under-attended schools and get serious about cleaning up it's fiscal act before I would consider giving them more facilities to manage. I don't trust their ability to control themselves and the language of the bond measure is too flexible for me to be comfortable.

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      • A.K. May 9, 2011 at 3:43 pm

        A agree with the above two comments. Back when I was younger, I use to always vote yes for these types of bonds (taxes), because I thought the greater good outweighed the financial cost to me. But now that I'm older, looking into becoming a homeowner, and have all sorts of financial responsibilities of my own, these things just seem to keep piling on at the worst times. I am afraid I am going to have to vote no as well.

        I too would be OK with a sales tax to support these types of projects. Get rid of income tax (win brownie points with employers looking to make jobs in the state) and replace it with a sales tax.

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        • k. May 10, 2011 at 8:48 am

          Funding state revenues only through a sales tax as opposed to a income tax is regressive. It puts much more of the tax burden on the middle and lower classes. The income only model has it's problems as well, with the 'boom & bust' cycle others have mentioned. The correct answer is both a moderate, but steeply progressive income tax and a moderate sales tax to balance out all those issues.

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      • mabsf May 9, 2011 at 5:24 pm

        So, which under-attended school would you close? The problem is when you close a school you leave a neighborhood without a cultural center and create more school traffic...
        Our community elementary and middle school is so much more than just a school: That's where adult classes are taught, Sun camps take place and much more...

        I hear you all about the property taxes and I wish Oregon would actually tax corporations more, but it is somewhat a generational contract: We pay for the kids now, they pay our social security later...

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        • Mike May 10, 2011 at 8:08 am

          I don't think it is wise to believe there will be Social Security in the future.

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        • Cora Potter May 11, 2011 at 9:49 am

          And where were you when Marshall High School and the Lents Neighborhood needed your support to retain their cultural center, sun school etc. ? And now PPS wants the homeowners who can least afford it, just lost their high school and feel so completely disenfranchised from the PPS school system that they'd prefer to be annexed into the David Douglas school district, to pony up and extra $300-$350 a year to pay for a major overhaul of Cleveland High School?

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  • Responsible Civics May 9, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    The desperate attempt of pointing out the "goodies" to different interest groups shows how cynical this bond and its supportors are. Everyone knows this bond is a way to cover up for irresponsible management over the years.
    Those that say it "just a little bit more" truly don't care about who it hurts. The cost *will* hurt real hardworking people who live next to you and are *your* neighbors. Look up and down your street and notice the elderly, fixed-income, home owners, who are rightly concerned about how they will be able to pay for this extreme expenditure.
    Want the schools fixed? Gather the under-employed among us and work as a community to fix the issues instead of perpetuating the idea that it requires giving money to out-of-state construction concerns.
    You either do the hard work of community or you buy yourself indulgences to relieve yourself of the responsibility of civic activity. If the schools were to ask the people for help; you will find local painters, carpenters, plumbers and construction workers of all stripes within the community who will contribute.
    Stop giving money to faceless out-of-state firms who have spent over a million dollars to pass this bond and have little regard for keeping costs down.
    Either be a part of the community or pay to ignore the hard work of what building a village is truly about.
    VOTE NO.

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    • patrice May 9, 2011 at 5:36 pm

      Very well said!

      This bond shows just how cynical PPS administration is. A a parent of a child in PPS I know intimately that our schools are falling apart. In a situation like that triage is the answer. Fix the schools in worst shape first.

      My son's school is on the list of buildings getting at least some goodies (even though it's not in the worst shape), so maybe I shouldn't complain. And if the bond is passed he'll have a brand new high school to attend-- even though the old one is not the worst high school building in the district, or even well-attended. That won't stop me from voting NO, however. The money is earmarked for the wrong buildings!

      Why is this?

      It's because PPS administrators seem to think that Portland voters, progressive though they are, would never vote for a measure that didn't contain goodies for at least one school in their area of town.

      As a result 13 of the 15 schools rated "likely to collapse" in an earthquake are NOT getting a seismic upgrade, while schools less likely to collapse are.

      And instead of fixing their old mistakes-- like turning Alameda and Laurelhurst into K-8s and closing Rose City Park, causing severe overcrowding at the former schools, and under enrollment at middle schools like Beaumont-- PPS solution is just to rebuild Laurehurst to get rid of the ugly portables now taking up its school yard. Why not just realign boundaries again, and send kids back to Rose City Park?

      Because if they did that, they'd have to admit the K-8 redesign was a failure.

      In your own household you throw good money after bad, or do you realize your mistakes and fix them? I most Portlanders try do the former. So why allow PPS to get away with catastrophic mismanagement of our tax dollars?

      Oh, right. Because as Jonathan Maus tells us, more bike lanes will result. Maybe PPS is correct in its estimation of Portlanders.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 9, 2011 at 5:41 pm

        Oh, right. Because as Jonathan Maus tells us, more bike lanes will result. Maybe PPS is correct in its estimation of Portlanders.

        Please understand my story is meant to inform people of the $5 million for Safe Routes in the bond.. I am not advocating for the bond in any way.

        I disagree with the tone of your comment and want to make it clear that this story isn't trying to push or oppose the bond.

        Thanks,

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        • patrice May 9, 2011 at 6:03 pm

          Jonathan, sorry if you misunderstood. My post clearly stated that you are INFORMING us, not pushing anything. But the fact that the district feels the need to include goodies for the biking community (many of whom do not have school-age children) supports my contention quite well.

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          • kj May 10, 2011 at 1:16 pm

            That is an interesting assumption, that many people in Portland who bike don't have kids in school... source please?

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        • Responsible Civics May 9, 2011 at 6:14 pm

          If your story was to inform then you might have also found and included a comment from a cycle shop or cyclists that find the paltry amount related to biking to be almost not worth mentioning in such a large bond. As it is, you only reference Todd Fahrner who supports the bond. That gives the impression that you, also, are an advocate of the bond. I can understand someone's confusion.

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  • Mudding Trucks May 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    I'll say that there should be a sales tax to help pay for such things. The land owners should not have to foot the bill.

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  • John Wasiutynski May 9, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I am voting yes - because we need safe schools in Portland to have livable communities.

    Our schools average 65 years old and they're falling apart. A vibrant (and safe) neighborhood school means a vibrant and healthy community. Portland is the only city in the Metro area that doesn't have a school bond - and if you have been in a school lately, you can tell.

    Voting yes will mean that we will have young families raise their kids here, their kids will walk and bike to school here, and our community will be even stronger.

    We would not want our kids biking on unsafe streets. So why do we let them attend unsafe schools!

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  • Michael Andersen May 9, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Anybody who complains about (for example) Vancouver being car-oriented or full of tax-dodgers needs to talk to more of the young families who move there. They often say they're trading their fun, low-car Portland lifestyles to get better schools ... in a city that, unlike Portland, is willing to vote for them.

    As that Urbanista post points out, the worse our schools are, the less desirable Portland will become -- and the incentives for a dense, vibrant, prosperous, low-car-friendly city will fall apart.

    Anyway, I personally support public school reform, and I'll also be voting yes with enthusiasm.

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    • Chris I May 9, 2011 at 4:14 pm

      You have a good point about the schools, but it is also worth noting that most of the people moving there are using flawed financial analysis to make the decision. They only look at the cost of housing, and don't consider transportation costs. The point: improving our schools will only help with part of the problem.

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    • C-Dawg May 9, 2011 at 6:23 pm

      Darn you, Michael!

      I had my cold, steel heart set to vote "no", and then you come along with your well-thought out argument for making Portland even better. I'm not at 100% "yes", but I think you will probably guilt me into it.

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    • Cora Potter May 11, 2011 at 9:54 am

      Except this isn't school reform at all. This bond (and the prior high school redesign) perpetuates everything wrong with PPS and reinforces the systemic inequity of their investments and policies.

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      • Michael Andersen May 12, 2011 at 10:44 pm

        I agree, Cora -- I was just trying to say that it's possible to simultaneously support reform and to support this bond issue. For me, my problems with the allocation of the money aren't big enough to justify voting against the whole thing.

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  • Brian May 9, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    The fact is our schools are falling apart. Visit a school and see. PPS has already consolidated and every single school but two need major updates. Having great neighborhood schools is the core of livability in our city. We can't wait any longer for state reform and punish Portland's kids by not passing this bond. In fact Portland is the only school district in the region (21 others) that does not have a bond for building repair or construction. How can our kids stay competitive with the suburbs when they actually invest in their school buildings. As a cyclist I understand how important it is to invest in our infrastructure. Vote Yes for our neighborhoods and city.

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    • Chuck May 9, 2011 at 4:19 pm

      A great point, but the folks out in the burbs aren't voting to raise their property taxes by an average of over $400 a year either. Fix the root of the problem, whatever it is, rather than asking for EMERGENCY!!!! increases every single year.

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      • Mike Meade May 9, 2011 at 4:48 pm

        The root of the problem is many years of neglect. Simply starting a maintenance program now isn't enough. The buildings need to be fixed before maintenance can even begin.

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        • Responsible Civics May 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm

          In other words "PPS you've done such a fab job of maintenance and caring for our public facilities let's give you more money to encourage your wonderful management". LOL

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    • Responsible Civics May 9, 2011 at 4:41 pm

      As cyclist I understand the need for fiscal responsibility with public funds and what that means to the average worker and to the public good for other programs. This bond is inflated to cover far more than the stated, immediate needs. And as a cyclist i *know* what happens I over-inflated my tires.

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  • J-R May 9, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Please vote yes. Our schools are old and need to be modernized. Classes are large. Yes, our property taxes are high, but they are deductible from your federal and state income taxes if you itemize. I'm in favor of a state sales tax for better balance and stability of funding. My hours have been cut for two years and that hurts, but I cannot justify cutting children's education or facilities. My spouse volunteers at schools, but that's not enough. We're considering a move to Washington where the schools really seem to be better. Please vote yes.

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  • John Mulvey May 9, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Whether or not one supports the bond measure, PPS has the worst political tin ear I've ever seen. Announcing this bond mere weeks after slapping the Marshall community in the face --not to mention the hash they've made of the Marysville School rebuild --is an indication of a severe disconnect from the reality facing families in outer SE.

    The real villains in this are the small handful of political consultants and insiders who run every big money political campaign in this city. They get paid lots of money to give advice (far more than the people out there knocking on doors, talking to the voters) and never seem to feel any repurcussions when their advice turns out horribly wrong. I think this measure will fail, yet the people who sold PPS on it will wander right into the next campaign and the next paycheck.

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  • Ken May 9, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Less than 1% of bond monies for safe routes to school does not seem like much of a bargain.

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  • Andrew Seger May 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    I volunteer in two under performing outer east Portland schools and I'm voting no on both bonds. PPS is not a good steward of our money and this would all be wasted money that could go towards other things...or even left in homeowners pockets. The bottom line is the amount of money spent per student has no reflection on the success of students. The highest $$ per pupil spending in the country is in Washington, DC. How's that working out?

    Besides, as property values rise it shoves out the lower income/lower performing students into other school districts. I'm not saying it's a good thing, but you can look at the demographic changes and see it happening already. PPS will perform better as Portland continues to shove poor families out of the city. This bond measure will just help support this by making a house in the 'burbs more attractive.

    (And yes, I'm well aware that Portland and the metro area in general are vastly subsidizing the rural schools in Oregon.)

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    • Responsible Civics May 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm

      Andrew, hear-hear -- we can only hope thoughful people like yourself will step away from the precipice of the hopes and wishes thtat more money will *fix* the ills PPS mis-mangement has created.

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  • mikeybikey May 9, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    I'm voting yes but maybe this needs to be a wake up call for PDX. If PPS is mismanaging money, then its a problem with citizen inaction, apathy and armchair democracy, which all the defeated bond measures in the world won't fix. If PPS is being a bad steward with our tax dollars, then its up to US to be BETTER CITIZENS and to organize, demonstrate, elect new board members, or do whatever it takes to make them accountable. Voting down the bond measure won't hurt the administration nor the people who are mismanaging money. It will only hurt the working folk and the students. It will only serve to further eviscerate the public school system. Do I think it stinks that the choice is between a bigger property tax burden and defunding the schools? Sure, but again, the solution is for us to be better citizens and hold them accountable, not to defund crucial projects.

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    • Responsible Civics May 9, 2011 at 6:28 pm

      Let me re-phrase so I can understand, "Honey, your drinking and gambling has left us scraping the bottom of the barrel, but if you think a trip to Vegas will help you get your life together, I'll invest in our future and max out my credit card so you can try that blackjack system one more time. Got my fingers crossed it will come through this time." : /

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      • Mike May 10, 2011 at 8:15 am

        Yeah- that sounds about spot on.
        "Wake up call"? Yeah right. It's time for change and some hard decisions, not just spending more.

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  • jeff May 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    until PPB shows a strong willingness to take care of their internal problems, they will be getting no more money from my family. every two years its the exact same thing. Giving them more $$ is not a proven strategy by any means. Time to try something else.

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  • Linda Baker May 9, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Jeez, these are among the most shortsighted and depressing anti government harangues I've read in a long time. Didn't expect that from the bikeportland set. I'm no huge fan of PPS, no, the bond measure isn't perfect--and yes, we need a sales tax. But until then, PDX is one of the only districts in Oregon without a facilities bond in place. Seattle also used facility bond funds to rebuild its schools.

    PDX is already developing a reputation as something of a backwater, education wise. If the facilities bond fails, the entire city is going to pay the price.

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    • Chris I May 9, 2011 at 6:37 pm

      This board is full of hipsters that have no plans for having kids in the city. I think a post about a PBR tax would receive similar scorn.

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    • Responsible Civics May 9, 2011 at 6:50 pm

      Maybe many of we progressive Portlanders, are tired of playing the chump for every "crisis" that requires a "not so perfect" tax increase to cover up past mis-management. Maybe your right and the wolf is coming this time, but this cry is one too many. And there is nothing from past performance that give many any reason to believe this time "it's going to be different". Remake the request and bring in local artisans to fix and repair and not out-of-state contractors.

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  • marshmallow May 9, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I have fond memories of attending grade school in a turn of the century, falling apart school building; none from my modern middle and high school, which was all plasticity and sterile. Steel versus carbon fiber. Classic cars versus soul-less modern. I say let the old schools rot and develop more character. Even the one that caught on fire in SE had lots of character.

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  • Steve B May 9, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Education is a human right, and a good school system is the very foundation of any sort of "livable" community. I vote YES! to increased school funding.

    Anyone concerned about how the School District manages or mismanages money should consider getting involved in efforts to both govern and watchdog that spending.

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    • Patrick Croasdaile May 9, 2011 at 8:51 pm

      Amen.

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    • Alex Reed May 9, 2011 at 11:51 pm

      Well said. I voted "No" on the TriMet measure in November, thinking I was sending a statement that the agency better manage its money better in the future. Now I realize I was just voting for less money for transit, which I regret.
      I'll vote "Yes" on this measure, and pledge to get involved in local government.

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    • Responsible Civics May 10, 2011 at 8:09 am

      My god this is just insane. Of course Education is important right but "education systems" are not. The system becomes entrenched and treated as sacrosanct and so people are unwilling to demand/accept change. Doing the same thing and expecting (wishing) for different results is the definition of crazy. DON'T perpetuate the mistaken believe that money is the only solution. And Steve B before you make assumptions, many of us have tired to work within the system only to have conservative interests ignore and block. Stop feeding the existing inept interests and allow local schools to use local communnity contractors to donate and fix what is needed now.

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      • EcoGrrl May 12, 2011 at 8:37 pm

        thank you - this was spot on to how i feel. i voted an emphatic NO. i won't give money to a crackhead who will only spend it on more crack, and i won't give more money to PPS, who already spend more $$ on students than the 'burbs do yet have way worse results than PPS.

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  • Red Five May 9, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I bet most who vote yes are renters and think you won't be impacted. WRONG! Landlords will raise YOUR RENT. You are not immune. Ha ha good luck.

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  • James Crawford May 9, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    The fundamental issue is demographics. The enrollment of PDX schools has plummeted in recent decades. Schools are like cars in that they are ineffecient when under occupied. Add in the fact that most funding is from the State on a per student basis and the declining enrollment becomes a catastrophe. People are having fewer children and PDX has been aggressively remaking itself into a community in which the traditional families that have the most children, heterosexual married couples, are pariah. The politically correct notion of FORCING PEOPLE OUT OF THEIR CARS simply reaffirms that they are no longer tolerated much less welcome in PDX.

    It is time to acknowledge the fact that PDX is becoming a childless town just like San Francisco. Rather than cripple the City's residents and businesses with onerous taxes to build new schools that will never be needed, accept the fact that this is exactly what the politically correct set wanted.

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    • Chris I May 9, 2011 at 9:42 pm

      You might want to look at the facts before ranting...

      http://www.pps.k12.or.us/files/data-analysis/2010_Enrollment_Summary.pdf

      While middle and high school enrollment has declined, enrollment for elementary has increased. So I think your interpretation of "plummeting" enrollment is completely wrong. Care to explain your actual motives?

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      • James Crawford May 10, 2011 at 6:53 am

        If you look at trends only in the past few years, there is an upsurge in recent enrollment, but the overal trend remains a steep decrease.
        PDX planning continues to emphasize subsidized housing that is specifically designed to accommodate either singles or Dinks. Also, PDX continues to canabilize what had once been the industrial heart of PDX to build it's utopian fantasies. The result is a dearth of family wage manufacturing jobs. As another points out, people are less likely to have children in tough economic times. The Drill Nowhere, Drill Never energy policies that oppose any every source that us cost effective will ensure that the current recession will become the Second Great Depression. They've already observed a decrease in birth rates. It will take five years for this change to become apparent in school enrollment. Many couples with children will also leave PDX to find jobs in the burbs or other states whose industrial policies aren't economic suicide.

        If you detect a lot of hostility here, you are perceptive. Some bicyclist just chose to ride bikes. Many on this forum view bicycling as symbolic of a massive reordering of society that they intend to impose on everyone else. This is why many motorists view bicyclists with extreme hostility.

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        • are May 10, 2011 at 7:31 am

          when wild animals exhaust their resources, if birthrates do not drop sufficiently, you get mass die-offs.

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          • James Crawford May 10, 2011 at 4:43 pm

            Before screaming about resource depletion and population collapse, calculate the amounts of the various critical resources contained in the first one kilometer of the Earth's crust. Devide by a potential global population of ten billion (the competent demographers who can integrate from the second derivative estimate we will peak at 8 to 8.5 billion). The biggest issue is energy supply. If you crunch the numbers, wind will not cut it. Solar can but you need lots of surface area. The much maligned burbs offer plenty of collection area for solar heat and hot water, plus may be solar electric if they can ever get there costs down. Nuclear is a bad word after the Japan quake, but far more people died from electrocutions and fires from natural gas and the kerosene space heaters the Japanese favor. Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion is renewable, could vastly exceed human needs, and the only pollution is plankton blooms that could absorb CO2 and reverse greenhouse gasbuild up.

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        • Chris I May 10, 2011 at 7:34 am

          It's a bit ridiculous that people like yourself perceive our struggle for bike facilities as "a massive reordering of society". You might want to lay off the Fox News. Nothing the city has done with regard to cycling infrastructure has or will prevent you from driving your car. Encouraging cycling is good public policy, and you don't have to look far to find that information.

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        • Mike May 10, 2011 at 8:22 am

          A very good post - even if most of us don't want to hear or acknowedlge it. Thank you.

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        • James Crawford May 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm

          I grew up in a rural area. After being bused to Beaverton for a year I attended the newly built Oak Hills school. It was in the center of the type of low density, suburban neighborhood Sam Adams despises. The land under some long distance power lines had been set aside for parks and green space with paved bike trails. Almost all of the elementary students from the subdivision rode their bikes to school. Only the rural folk from surrounding areas were bused in.

          The lesson here is that this school was could remain viable with most students biking or walking to school because the community had been intentionally designed to be predominantly parents with young children. Almost all the dwellings were large, single family houses with large yards. IIRC, the average density was about four houses per acre! However, they averaged about three kids per family, so they had about twelve kids per acre which could work out to 5,000 kids within an easy, half mile bike ride! If you were to redesign this neighborhood to have a much higher density of smaller dwellings, particularly apartments and condos, you'd have different demographics. Even at R-20, you might have half the kids per acre and the scholl couldn't remain viable without bus and car commuting,

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  • jim May 9, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Maybe they should take some money from the PERS act to pay for the crumpling schools? after all that money was suposed to be for the schools to start with. How do we know the schools will be any better if we just give them more money? I for one don't trust them any farther than I can spit with more money. I think a year from now even with the money there will be crumbling neglected schools. I remember when I was a kid, the schools were all prestine, gras neatly trimmed.... All on much less money.

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  • marshmallow May 9, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    2004-2007 were boom times when couples thought they could afford to have children. Then the housing bubble burst in 2008 and the extended recession began. Kids are always the first to go.

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  • marshmallow May 9, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    I like the idea of the orange safety flag in the picture to let drivers know that kids are unpredictable. I'm gonna have to try it out with several splayed out on poles behind me like a fantastic peacock.

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  • She May 10, 2011 at 7:43 am

    I am voting YES on the Bond and the Levy. I have a 100 yo house and there is maintenance that has not been done and needs to be done. I sometimes borrow $$ to do this maintenance. I believe the schools ARE planning for this maintenance now. The schools are old and PPS is the only urban district w/o a Bond right now - we need to make sure our buildings are providing a safe environment for all kids. They need to $$ and the work to get done. Please support the bond measure and the levy. Many kids families cannot afford to go to other schools and they should not be subjected to these conditions!

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    • Responsible Civics May 10, 2011 at 8:12 am

      if you step out of the emotional you'll see the very marginal people you want to help are harmed by the increase in their housing costs.

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    • Steven May 10, 2011 at 8:21 am

      I'm not sure the comparison works. My house is 100 years old, and it has had several owners. Each tried to keep it up. I've continued by making repairs as needed; I and the other owners did not let it fall into total disrepair then ask neighbors to pay for it.

      I'm not surprised to find many well meaning people here voting no. I'm relieved. I'm liberal and voting NO. I'm guessing the measures will not pass. Portland needs to get serious about a sales tax, however. I'll pay a sales tax, but ask me to pony up $8000 over the next several years to pay for schools that needed to be maintained over the last 65 years is not the solution.

      How do we already spend more per child than just about anyone else and still have the dropout rate we do? Have parents pay to the schools the amount that is spent on cell phones, text plans, iPods, etc., (all the technology that has no place distracting students in school), and this alone would take a bite out of a maintenance bill. (I say this as a joke, but I wonder . . . .)

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  • Fronk May 10, 2011 at 8:41 am

    I'm liberal and am all for supporting the schools; and am voting a resounding NO. Many of the reasons are represented above, but I would just add that they can always come back in the fall with something that is actually reasonable. I can't help but wonder if that isn't part of the strategery here... shoot for the ridiculous now and come back asking for something bloated, but relatively digestible later.

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  • deborah May 10, 2011 at 10:18 am

    But aren't most people with kids (or grandkids) primarily home owners? How is it appropriate to spread this cost out to the entire population, when only a handful of those people have kids?

    I'm voting YES because I feel that this bond appropriately puts the cost of maintaining schools on the shoulders of those families and home owners that use them, or have used them in the past. Buying a home is a commitment to a community. Without good schools, property values suffer.

    Mudding Trucks
    I'll say that there should be a sales tax to help pay for such things. The land owners should not have to foot the bill.

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    • Mike May 10, 2011 at 10:49 am

      I'm not sure that most people with kids are homeowners, just as I am not sure that most homeowners have kids.

      I am a homeowner w/o kids, so should I be one of the "handful" to carry the additional burden?

      I also don't believe that my giving PPS thousands of dollars will have any real impact on my home value. $5k in a kitchen remodel would have a greater impact in much more ways.

      With all the additional property taxes, is it no wonder that Portland has one of the worst markets in the nation?

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  • Chris May 10, 2011 at 10:42 am

    " But aren't most people with kids (or grandkids) primarily home owners?"

    I'd like to see your source for that. What about all the home owners that don't have kids, shouldn't they be exempt? And how about the renters with kids? They shoudn't have to pay?

    How about instead we eliminate the child tax credit and use that money to fix up the schools. The government shouldn't be subsidizing people for having kids anyways.

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  • Gallen May 10, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Lots of people blame PERS for the shortfall in school funding, this may be one of the culprits, but another problem is all of the URD's in Portland that use TIF to build their condos and office buildings making a few developers and contractors hella rich off the taxpayers back, while taking money that would otherwise go to schools, fire dept., police, libraries, and the county for say, bridge repairs. The South Waterfront URD alone has taken $450 million dollars from the taxpayers and schools, etc.. Yet these same people are now behind these school tax bonds for more money, if you like being jacked vote yes, if you want fiscal responsibility and fairness vote no.

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  • Jim F May 10, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I recently moved out of Portland, in part because of the poor quality of the schools (and the incompetence and lack of leadership in both the school board and super's office). If I was still in Portland, I would definitely vote no. Not because the money isn't needed -- it is -- but because I am confident the school leadership will screw it up.

    Moving to a small town (7,000 people), I am amazed at the quality of the schools here. So much more academically challenging. Far, far superior facilities. We have our own fiscal challenges, but it is nothing at all like Portland.

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  • Steph May 10, 2011 at 11:40 am

    A point I feel needs clarifying: Portland does have a facilities (and general "other stuff that needs doing") bond right now - I'm pretty sure it expires in 2012 and the proposed bond is to replace that one. To say Portland doesn't have a facilities bond is misleading, at best, and just dishonest, at worst.

    And what happened to the bond money for prior seismic updates (1990s) and asbestos abatement (1970s or 1980s) that was passed in Portland? Did they do incomplete upgrades, or just mismanage those projects?

    For the folks above who suggested that "no" voters are childless and anti-government...not true, sometimes we're just advocates for responsible fiscal policy. I'm 26 and have a kid on the way. I work in government and have since I finished college, much to the detriment of my wallet. I've made a concious decision to work in public service because I know my work can support the public good. I bought a house last year, because I want to live in Portland and I think home ownership is a worthwhile community investment. I plan to send my kid to PPS, ideally to my neighborhood schools (whatever those are in five years). I went to public school (not in Oregon) and received a terrific education for about what PPS dumps in for each student (about $11,000, my school was $12,000).

    More cash for rebuilding schools does not equal a better education - better teachers and appropriate district boundaries (read: maybe encourage some of the Alameda parents to accept the fact that their kids should go to Sabin based on geography) that enable small class sizes do. Why isn't redistricting being discussed prior to a bond proposal? What are they doing with the facilties at Madison, being closed and its students transferred elsewhere, and why can't we use that space - the newest building at PPS, if I remember correctly - to temporarily serve the schools that need real safety upgrades? If a building is genuinely unsafe, why does PPS allow it to be used at all?

    We do need some money - that's obvious - for ADA upgrades, but I wonder how PPS could be violating federal law for decades without consequence. I have to pay because your system didn't make the legally-madated changes when it had decades to do so, and a small fund for capital investments (culled from other education taxes, local options or past bonds) maintained over the years could have easily covered the $5-10 million projected costs for compliance? Not cool.

    As for the $5 million for Safe Routes to Schools (which is a federal program) - is this a funding match to tap the federal dollars? Why isn't PPS working with PBOT to address the transportation issues? It seems inappropriate for an educational organization to do transportation work...especially when we have a city agency (that we pay for with other tax assessments) responsible for transportation.

    That was way long-winded, sorry folks. I think the attempts to push the bond as a common good is disingenuous, and I hope this bond fails. Spectacularly. Hopefully people seperate it from the levy and pass that - we really do need the money for teachers!

    p.s.: For the inevitable "what about when your kid gets to PPS - you'll be mad you didn't pass this bond!" argument. Nope, I won't, I will have accepted my decisions as researched and balanced, and will be working to improve the entire PPS system in a way that is socially, culturally, economically and academically fair.

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    • patrice May 13, 2011 at 6:08 pm

      Steph, you raise a lot of important points. I am a PPS parent, with a kid going to school in a horrible, leaky building, and my work involves visiting classrooms in PPS. So I've seen first hand the miserable condition of our schools. Nonetheless, I honestly believe that saying yes to this bond will result in business as usual for PPS administration. I spent a very long time on the phone with PPS' communication director a few weeks ago getting clarification on some of the statements that appeared in the flyer the pro-bond people sent out.

      First: earthquake improvements. The flyer states how desperately PPS needs them. Absolutely true... except the schools that need them won't be getting them. 15 schools are rated most likely to collapse if a quake hits. 2 of these are getting upgrades. Some other schools are also getting upgrades-- the ones getting new roofs, because the roof gets tied into a stabilization system of some kind. The only school getting upgrades that is NOT getting a roof is Fernwood middle school, and this is only because they didn't get any upgrades in the 1995 bond. So they will be brought up to the 1995 level, no more than that. So as far as quake safety goes, the schools that need it most won't be getting improvements.

      Second: ADA improvements. The flyer mentions all schools will be getting an upgrade. It does not, however, say that schools will be made compliant. And that is because many of them will not be brought up to current code. The district's plan is to make the first floor of buildings compliant. But most schools in Portland have two floors-- and no elevator or lift system to access the second floor. So if your kid is in a wheelchair, tough luck getting to those second floor classes.

      Third: Middle school science labs. Much has been made about MS science labs needing sinks. But the reason for this is because the ridiculously thought out K-8 redesign put middle schoolers in elementary buildings, which don't have the number of sinks and outlets needed. I've read commentary about the need for fume hoods and emergency showers-- like at the lovely new schools in the 'burbs. But according to the communication director, schools won't be getting these. What schools will get will vary from building to building, depending on what they've got, and the curriculum they're teaching. There is no minimum standard, in other words, and the rooms won't be the world class labs we've been led to expect.

      So, three misleading statements. I'm sure there are more.

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  • Rain Panther May 10, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I'd like to apologize to Mr. Maus for a somewhat untoward comment I left a while ago (which apparently didn't make the cut). I shouldn't have referred to that other commenter as a jerk, but instead merely as someone who said a jerky thing. Perhaps there are a disproportionate number of Pabst-drinking "hipsters" among Bike Portland readers. I honestly don't know. I simply think it's dismissive to make such pigeon-holing assumptions about people who happen to have viewpoints that differ from one's own. Again, I offer my sincere apologies.

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  • Linda May 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    steph, PPS does not have a facilities bond in place. It is the operating levy that will expire in 2012.

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    • Steph May 10, 2011 at 12:38 pm

      My mistake - thank you for the correction! I went through the posted tax assessments and was under the (apparently mistaken) assumption that the current bond in place - and there is a bond and a levy/local option - was the one retiring. I'm curious what the other bond is for, then. Anyone know?

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  • John Mulvey May 10, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Steph
    For the folks above who suggested that "no" voters are childless and anti-government...not true

    The reason you're hearing this is because the "Yes" campaign knows that repeating this claim is the only path they have to a win on election day.

    And for some voters it will probably work. Not enough though.

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    • Mike May 10, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      Much like "Obama-care" was all about death panels, anyone against the war in Iraq is/was a terrorist sympathizer, etc, etc.

      So many people listen to sound bites to base their decisions on, so you might as well have a good (if not totally honest) sound bite.

      Kind of funny to think of PPS as "the government", and that wanting them to be responsible and accountable is being "anti-government".

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  • Collin Roughton May 10, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    As someone who worked in the schools on issues of bike safety education, through the Community Cycling Center's after school Bike Club program, I can say first hand that improvements made through this Bond measure are critical. We store the bicycles for our program in boiler rooms and other storage areas that are clearly not safe. Plus this bond will give schools covered play areas and build safer infrastructure that supports kids and their families walking and bicycling safely to school. So that's how schools and bicycle have to do with each other. If we want our kids to grow up and become safe bicyclists, than we need to start in the schools and give them a safe place to learn.

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  • Dale May 10, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    First, why did they NOT rebuild Marysville school. Two plus years after it burnt, they are still busing children to other schools. What does astroturf have to do with school buildings? Why tear down three schools and rebuild two. Still a NO in my book.

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  • Indy May 11, 2011 at 7:59 am

    $5 million for Safe Routes is about two schools' worth, if that?

    This is not a reason at all to justify paying such a huge amount for PPS.

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  • DK May 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    PPS parent.

    Voting "no" based on past management performance and seriously considering a home sale and move to David Douglas district.

    Fool me once...

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  • PorterStout May 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I'm torn. Like some others above, normally I'm all about education, because that really is the future of, well, everything. But as a household who already pays several thousand every year in property taxes, and just got through handing out several thousand more for fixing the city's sidewalk at their "request," and now the city wants thousands more to fix their schools, I'm left wondering what exactly do they actually do with the money we give them now? It's tragic if kids get caught in the middle but it's feeling like at least some conditions need to be imposed on where this money goes and what it's to be spent on before it's approved. "Goodies?" Hm. I like the suggestion above of using local contractors, we might at least make sure the money serves to stimulate the local economy.

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  • JT May 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I've read through everyone's comments here and I'd also like to throw in my 2 cents. I consider myself to be a raging liberal and I am all for education...but I just can't support either of the bonds. It just feels like new bonds keep piling up every six months and sooner or later we need to start saying no. It's just too much to ask in these times. We can all expect that higher rents are coming for all renters with the passage of the school bonds and especially with the low rental vacancies that Portland has.

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  • James Crawford May 14, 2011 at 6:36 am

    I must confess that I'm surprised but pleased to see that so many people in a bike group that stereotypically is extremely liberal and supportive of big government are skeptical of the PPS bond.

    I'd suggest that people consider the deceptive tactics employed by the Beaverton School District. In the mid 1990s, they got a bond measure that included $50 million that was allegedly needed to purchase 87 aces that was needed for various schools. At that time, the going rate for residential, inside the UGB land in the district was about $100k per acre but escalating rapidly. By offering prompt closing and prolonged occupancy, the District could have gotten a severe discount. If the District had moved adroitly it could have purchased 500 acres, then sold the surplus land at an extreme profit that would have paid for building the schools! The reality is that the District knew it needed only $10 million but requested far more so it could be embezzled to fund PERS.

    Rather than engage in good faith negotiations to buy land from willing sellers at fair market value, the District attempted to exploit govt authority to steal land. During Metro's 2002, UGB expansion process, "concerned citizens" showed up at hearings demanding that various parcels of land be excluded from the UGB so that the School District and/or the Parks District could purchase it for dimes on the dollar. At the time, the Metro councilors had the integrity to explain that this was illegal.

    When this tactic failed, the District began abusing it's eminent domain authority. The land for the new Bonny Slope Grade school was taken through condemnation and the land owner had to take the District to court to get fair market value. The fact that they had actually enterred into a contract to sell their land established the value, so they were eventually able to get reasonably fair value. The District also abused it's authority to take the land for a site for a new Intermediate School from Tuefel Nursery. The Tueffels were fortunate enough to ve able to afford to do the concept planning on their land to establish it's value.

    The Beaverton School District's latest scam is the pending purchase of land for a new High School just outside of Sherwood! While the District's 2010 Facilities Plan documents the need for two sites for new HSs, one North of Hwy 26 and one South of the Hwy, the North site is most urgently needed because Sunset and West View are severely overcrowded and will only get worse asNorthBethany is developed and. Infill/refill development of existing urban areas continues. The Southern site should be a low priority because Beaverton HS, Aloha Hs, and South Ridge HS are operating within capacity and there is declining enrollment in these areas! Meanwhile, there is an extreme paucity of potential sites North of Hwy 26 and Washington County is refusing to include a site in the North Bethany Concept Plan and is attempting to have the only viable site ejected from the UGB.

    May be they don't care about the Bethany and Cedar Mill communities because they are becoming
    overwhelmingly Asian?

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  • rc May 14, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    So let me get this straight.

    All of you voting no aren't denying that the schools need these repairs and updates. But you don't want to pay for it.

    But you're going to pay for it sooner or later in one way or another. Though I'm inclined to say sooner is the better option, because the longer you wait the more expensive it gets.

    As time goes on materials, transportation, labor costs will all rise. Not to mention the things that need repairs will worsen over time causing even more expense to repair them. And to wait too much longer, will mean that the existing schools will go beyond repair and need replacement (a much more expensive option).

    And consolidation of schools isn't much of an option, most the classrooms I've seen are full. They've been (or soon will be) consolidated about as much can be expected.

    Also the bond will increase employment of local trades. Last time I checked nearly every school in the district gets something out this. It's not just fixing things that are broken, but adding things like covered play areas, science labs, computer network upgrades etc.

    Now you can blame the current PPSB all you want, but responsibly of this problem is all the PPSB board members of the last 40-50 years for underfunding and ignoring these problems for all these years. It's not as if all these problems just sprang up over night.

    It's not prudent to wait and fix a leaky pipe until it's ruined your foundation or walls.

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  • L May 15, 2011 at 12:44 am

    Is the $5 mil for biking the same $5 mil to settle a past-due debt for "transportation issues"? They really did include the goodies here, without spelling out the details. They do the same for Marysville School - they got $6 mil from insurance from fire, then say the school will only be rebuilt if the bond passes - what?! So for those of us in Marysville neighborhood, where most all walked, we don't have a school - kids are bussed to Rose City Park, 25 minutes away by car - to a giant school that was closed during PPS' closings and integrations of K-8s. And because of the K-8 integrations, there aren't enough rooms in current schools (or teacher funding) for electives, never mind a whole separate room for science labs - yet they want to funnel money there...where? They should have kept the schools open to begin with. They close new schools and then ask for money to fix older schools they didn't maintain to begin with.
    There's 100's of non-maintained issues per school. yet now PPS has decided to maintain a few certain odd things per school? turf and covered play areas and stage curtains? really? I'd think earthquake-proofing would be a raging #1 priority. not just for 2 schools out of 13 that need it most.
    I'm rambling and scattered, apologies, and hope this is readable enough. That I have an issue with voting for this bond has boggled me - I'm a parent of school age child with another there in 2 years, I'm a renter in Portland, I always vote for schools, parks, libraries, social services, and yet I cannot vote for this bond. I think the bond, and what it would pay for, and what it wouldn't pay for, is ridiculous. A lot more needed work could get done for a lot less money.
    No on the bond and yes on the levy.

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