Portland Schools Tax is Dead

It appears that the plug has been pulled on Mayor Tom Potter's tax plan for Portland Schools. From KGW:

The Portland School Board abruptly cancelled a public hearing on school funding scheduled for Thursday evening as district leaders backed away from Mayor Tom Potter's proposed city-wide income tax to pay for schools.

"Our citizens' tolerance has reached its limits," said Superintendent Vicki Phillips, citing polling data that shows a lack of support for another temporary local tax measure. ...

Even Potter himself appeared to concede defeat on Thursday. The mayor, in Taiwan on a trade mission, issued a statement acknowleging that "the timing may not be right for a May vote."

Superintendent Phillips, along with School Board Co-Chairs David Wynde and Bobbie Regan, said public support for the tax appeared doomed due to current feelings about the local economy. "What we've heard is that the economy is tough," Regan told reporters at a briefing Thursday afternoon at Grant High School. "People are also tired of temporary funding solutions. We have to be respectful of the community."


  • Svejk (unverified)

    Probably true... probably would get voted down. I'm glad the people of Portland have decided to stop being so arrogant. We need embrace our no-benefits service job economy. Le those durned smart and well-edjikated Indians and Finns and Chinese have science and engineering. Who needs them?

  • Tony Larson (unverified)

    Subject: [Key-communicators-list] Portland School leaders comment on funding options Date: 2/9/2006 6:49:41 P.M. Pacific Standard Time

    February 9, 2006

    A Statement on School Funding from the Portland School Board Co-Chairs and Superintendent

    As leaders of the Portland Public Schools, we have looked for the broadest possible funding solution to help students: fighting for funding in Salem at the Legislature, joining with other city and suburban school districts to look at a possible regional solution, and recently working with parent advocates, school, business and community leaders and elected officials at the city and county.

    In every conversation, we have heard strong support for our schools, and for education as a priority in this community. But we have also heard a strong undercurrent that this may not be the time to put a funding solution, a tax, forward to voters.

    There is uncertainty about this economic recovery, and when it will actually make a real difference for Portlanders. Families and individuals are making tough choices in their own personal finances, as they cope with greater monthly costs for health care, housing, utilities and gas.

    It is also abundantly clear that we have not shared often enough the changes that are underway in Portland Public Schools to deliver both more effective education and a more accountable and efficient administration. We've been so busy rolling up our sleeves and getting the work done that we haven't had a chance to share it with our community. We need more time to do that.

    Against that backdrop, this may not be the time to ask voters to approve a tax measure, even one that simply replaces money that local taxpayers are already paying.

    In the last month, our conversations have focused on two possible options for our schools: either a city-wide local income tax or a local option property tax for the May ballot. At this point, we feel we must recognize and discuss a third option: Not asking voters to approve any tax this May.

    We do not contemplate this option lightly. As you all know, all of the school districts in Multnomah County face significant reductions in their budgets next year, as the three-year local income tax expires. Portland Public Schools faces a $57 million shortfall, and no matter how much support our community partners share with us, and how we exhaust our limited budget reserves, we will be making some significant budget cuts.

    But we take heart from the broad coalition that has been meeting with us over the last months, and from their dedication to our students. First and foremost, the incredible parents and students, and our dedicated teachers and school staff, businesses and community leaders, our incredible advocacy organizations supporting our schools. And thanks also to our elected officials, especially the City Council and Mayor Tom Potter for his strong leadership and focus on our kids.

    Each of the parties comes to the table from different perspectives, but what unites us is our commitment to children and to our city's future. We will call on all of our community partners, and all of you, to work together with us as we explore all our options and do the best we can for our kids.

    David Wynde, Board Co-Chair and PPS parent

    Bobbie Regan, Board Co-Chair and PPS parent

    Vicki Phillips, PPS Superintendent


    Key-communicators-list mailing list

  • Ron Ledbury (unverified)

    It is a tactical choice in advance of a law suit to force a judge to rule in favor of a judicial imposition of a tax at the state and/or local level. It is designed to transfer the political choice to the judiciary, where they would have to give up on the rule of law or face the music of the coalition of the OEA and the recipients of the investments made by the Oregon Investment Council. It should be a great show. Get your ringside seats.

    The Oregon State Bar will be on trial, so to speak. The ducks must all be lined up and the draft of the trial court opinion too, all predetermined for the Oregon Supreme Court to hear it on a fast track.

    You see, if there was a pending vote to raise taxes then the judiciary would likely have to wait until after such vote was taken before ruling.

  • Norm! (unverified)

    Although I support the county ITAX, I had not made up my mind about supporting the Portland income or levy tax proposals. So, if I had been polled, I probably would have responded negatively.

    I want to be supportive of schools, but I was not enthusiastic another local income tax. Afterall, why should Portlanders and businesses have to pay higher taxes than everyone else in the state? As a Democrat, I'm really disappointed that my state representatives failed to resolve the school funding issue.

    Of course, a income tax isn't really necessary. There is nothing stopping those who believe in the Portland income tax from sending in their own contributions to PPS.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    Hi Governor Ted ("Kids First") Kulongoski.

    See you in court and you better pray Oregon judges are nicer to you than in New York State where a judge has ordered that state to pay... $23,000,000,000... to New York City Schools... or Governor Pataki will be held in contempt of court.

    And contempt of children.

  • Ruth Adkins (unverified)

    The Oregonian claimed today that "a coalition of parents, elected officials, and business leaders that created the I-tax failed to materialize." Correction: parents were at the table and ready to fight for this. Mayor Potter was at the table. Who was missing?

    Of course it polled poorly, when the Oregonian editorial page has been relentlessly attacking the idea of local funding, when the fat cats at the Business Alliance and the Portland Schools Foundation have refused to get on board. There will be no chance for schools supporters to get the word and expalin to voters the need for this money, because the powers that be refuse to even try.

    I know and understand all the objections to band aids, extending "temporary" taxes, letting Salem off the hook, etc. However, I have yet to hear a solution that will keep our schools whole next year with a $50+ million shortfall looming. If you refuse to support any local tax, where do you suggest cutting? (I agree that the teachers union should make some concessions, esp on their health care coverage, but I don't agree that they are "overpaid"--fact is, education is a labor intensive industry and that is just the way it is. And, contrary to public opinion, PPS has cut administration way down.)

    Given that our property taxes went DOWN last fall due to the expiration of school levies, the fact is we can afford to replace those taxes with some kind of local funding. What is the alternative, that will not harm our Portland children? And don't accuse me of "scare tactics." These cuts are real and they would be devastating. Everyone needs, and everyone benefits from, a functioning public school system.

  • Bailie (unverified)

    The problem for PPS is an extension of the problem in all of Oregon. Oregon has among the highest individual compensation for K-12 employees in the U.S. At the same time, Oregon is one of the poorest states (ranked 36th in per capita income). These economic realities are evident in all Oregon public sectors, but K-12 is the significant part of the Oregon budget.

    Oregon (and PPS) will be struggling with this problem for decades if we fail to recognize this situation. It has been building for 20 years and will continue to deteriorate if trends are not changed. Temporary taxes of all kinds, do not solve the underlying dilemma.

  • Oscar (unverified)

    and the PBA is holding the smoking gun.

    How does a secret push poll commissioned by business elites get so much say in public policy?

    And, Norm!, lay off the sauce before noon, no one is sending $57 million to the schools because it would make them feel swell.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    One trick pony Bailie is back... the dearth of all blogs.

    Oregon's problem is that we have the 44th lowest taxes in America and look out Alabamee!

    I used to say look out Louisiana, but Katrina washed that state away while W begged The Twins for the dregs of their near-beer.

    www.taxfoundation.org for facts, not opinions, Baleful.

  • Bailie (unverified)

    Sid, From the website you mentioned, www.taxfoundation.org:

    "Tax Freedom Day is the day when Americans finally have earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill for the year. In 2005, Oregon taxpayers had to work until April 12th to pay their total tax bill, ranking it 32nd in the nation. This is five days before National Tax Freedom Day (April 17th). The tax freedom days of neighboring states were: Washington, April 20th (ranked 8th nationally); Idaho, April 9th (ranked 42nd); Nevada, April 18th (ranked 13th) and California, April 20th (ranked 9th)."

    Also, "Oregon’s gasoline tax stands at $0.24 per gallon (10th highest), while its cigarette tax stands at $1.28 per pack of twenty (5th highest)."

    Also, "Oregon's local property taxes are 23rd highest in the nation by the per capita measure and 21st highest as a percentage of income."

    While most of the above data is consistent with the affluence level for Oregon, Oregon fees, charges and interest are ignored. From the National Conference of State Legislatures, Oregon collected "the 4th highest revenue from fees, charges and interest per capita in the U.S."

    The data also illustrates the problem for Oregon. We are a poor state trying to individually compensate as an affluent state. The problems Oregon is experiencing should not come as a surprise considering our economic situation.

  • dmrusso (unverified)

    Thanks for the link Sid. It proved very useful and interesting. I forwarded it to some people that are constantly complaining about taxes.

    It should be noted that Karen Minnis was one of those that did not want to properly fund K-12. (We have a chance to defeat her this year once and for all.) I think that school funding should be taken up at the state level and federal level, not the local level. Portland Public Schools get less funding per student than other areas of Oregon. If someone can find that link, that would be helpful. This is an incredibly complex issue that will require more than one answer, but taxes will be a part of the solution somewhere along with line.

  • (Show?)

    For all of those who claim to have supported the I-tax, but not a new tax let's keep some simple numbers in mind. Two years ago PPS got $32 million from the local option property tax plus $47 million from the I-tax for a total of $79 million. Both are now expired. The goal of the new tax is to raise about $50 million for PPS, a cut of roughly $30 million from the combined taxes two years ago. In other words, your tax burden is going down, even if we pass a new tax. It also means that PPS is spending less than it did two years ago even though costs continue to rise. Anyone in Portland who claims that they are paying more in taxes is not talking about schools and those who claim that PPS can deal with these cuts and keep the system whole is not dealing with reality.

  • Robert Ted Hinds (unverified)

    As a candidate for City Commissioner #2, I have vehemently opposed the City Income Tax. Amending the City Charter to allow the City of Portland to tax its citizens would have set a dangerous precedent.

    Going back to early coverage of Potter's school plan, here's what the Oregonian had to say on January 27.

    OREGONIAN (start exerpt):

    He's betting that voters feel the same trust in him that they did in 2004, when he won in a landslide.

    "If he can pull this off and buy the school district a few more years, I think he'll be a hero," said former city Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury.

    Sho Dozono, a schools supporter and president of Azumano Travel, echoed that: "He's putting his political capital on the line.

    OREGONIAN (end exerpt).

    That pretty much says it all. "...Buy the school district a few more years..." "He's putting his political capital on the line."

    Unfortunately, the plan was just chips on a roulette table. There are three ways for a government to get money, period: (1) Raise revenue (taxes, donations, grants, licenses, penalties, etc.), (2) borrow the money (bonds), or (3) cut costs. The problem is that entrenched interests refuse to recognize their share of the problems. Portland Public Schools has been left as an island unto itself, fishing for funds in shark infested waters and seeking shelter in caves from hurricanes and other fiscal storms. A look at the entire island system, however, reveals a different picture.

    In the Portland Polynesians of the Pacific, that are the special interests feeding in the public currents, the amount PPS needs is roughly 5% across the board of operating costs to the city. It's also a rather paltry amount where bond issues are concerned, should the city decide to resolve this quick fix by borrowing. What these alternatives, though they may be bad medicine to swallow, have that Potter's plan did not have is a heavy political liability attached to them.

    My plan, which received virtually no attention in the press, was to borrow two years of school budget through a bond issue. Most bond issues by the AAA rated Portland City Government are much greater than the $150 million it would take to maintain PPS for two years. Two years would put Potter and City Council on the hook for coming up with some kind of permanent solution, since asking to borrow more on the publics behalf would be political suicide. Included in such a bond issue should be the funds to hire world-class consultants to work with all stakeholders in Portland's educational system--parents, teachers, business, students, etc.--to come to a long term solution during that time. That task force should meet every week in public to progress toward the goal. An absolute deadline in which failure is not an option is what is needed. Another short-term solution "for a few years" is a concept that the Portland voters no longer have faith in their state and local governments to deliver. It is too easy for politicians to implement funding band-aides and resign before they have to suffer the consequences during their term.

    Robert Ted Hinds


  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    Bailie was being so Republican (untruthful) by leaving out the 44/50 fact also on that website.

    Let's review our great state for Baleful:

    No sales tax (one of two or three states that stupid) 2nd lowest wine/beer tax (unchanged since 1975) $10 minimum corporate tax (lowest in world, including sub-Sahara Africa) Lowest business tax west of Rockies The kook, kook kooky kicker forcing the state to predict revenues TWO YEARS IN ADVANCE. Businesses paying about a quarter of all taxes, regular folks paying 75%. 100% writeoffs for $75,000 Humvees getting just 8 soldiers-per-gallon.

    Poor Bailie calls for cutting teacher salaries... which is like asking W to put down the near-beer.


  • Don Smith (unverified)

    Well, as another candidate for council, here's my .02....

    I believe that it is time to start looking at our model, not our funding sources. Portland is a progressive town. We should lead the nation in finding new and better ways of doing everything. We do that in planning and development, in our business sector (a huge number of things are invented right here), and in our treatment of the environment.

    It's time we look at a European model of public schooling, as well. We have a very expensive capital structure in our schools, with all of the buildings the district owns. We have a labor pool that costs PPS an arm and a leg for benefits (PERS and health care). We have islands of affluence and islands of poverty floating in our middle-class sea. The affluent islands (and even the middle class schools, to a lesser extent) fundraise to pay for music teachers, art instruction, and the "luxury" items that poor schools don't get.

    There are enforcement officials out there sending poor kids back to their failing schools for daring to enroll at a good school in a neighborhood they can't afford. That is the greatest social injustice I can imagine. They say if they let the child leave that school, the school will not have enough children.

    If that family wants to put that child in a school farther away from his or her home to give them a better shot at the future, how can a progressive defend the practice of forcing him or her back to the school they were fleeing?

    It's like seeing a salmon leaping out of the water to escape a too-warm stream, trying to get to a cooler tributary, and someone netting him and dumping him back into the polluted stream he was fleeing because there aren't enough fish going up that stream to spawn. You'll kill the salmon just to make sure that stream gets the right amount of fish running it. No conservationist would do that. Why do it to our kids? Fix the stream.

  • Don Smith (unverified)


    Businesses do not pay taxes. Never have, never will. They merely collect them. If I own a corporation that earns a profit, that profit goes to (a) my shareholders (including myself) as a dividend (taxed as a capital gain), (b) retained earnings for future growth, (c) lower prices for my customers if I am interested in gaining market share, (d) raises for my employees, or bonuses (taxed as income), or (e) acquiring new equipment, inventory, or even another branch, office, or other presence (leading to new jobs that will be taxed).

    If the taxman takes some of my (evil) profit, I have to forgo some of that activity, most of which would be taxable anyway. Our $10 corporate tax at the state level is a great thing for jobs. What comes with new jobs? More taxes. The state is recovering fine. It's Portland that's lagging. What's the difference? The BIT comes to mind.

    Read this for a different perspective on business. You may not agree with it all, but you'll find it pretty compelling. It will make you ask better questions, anyway.

    I'm interested in hearing what you think....

  • Sarah Carlin Ames (unverified)

    I have to say, I love blogs, but they do prove to be the home of some wild conspiracy theories!

    Here's one mentioned above: The School Board is considering not asking voters for a tax in May because that will set up the statewide lawsuit for adequate funding. Wow. Not only have I not heard a whisper of that idea (and I'm in on many of the discussions), but that's pretty darn preposterous. I lived in Brooklyn for a while (my daughter attended PS261) and the NY lawsuit took YEARS to get through the courts. To think that our School Board would deliberately starve our schools of funds for years just to try to make a point in court -- well, I really don't think so.

    Another post called the poll a "push poll commissioned by business elites." Well, I'm glad some civic-minded businesses do support the Portland Schools Foundation, who paid for the poll. But having seen the actual poll instrument, and knowing that Grove Insight has a well-deserved national reputation, the idea that this was a push poll is just a fallacy. I can't say I like all the poll numbers, but I trust them.

    Anyway, blog on. And in my day job at the school district, I'll try to keep posting more and better information about the state of affairs at Portland Public Schools: real budget data, actions to improve accountability, reforms to improve our kids' education. Look for some solid numbers on class sizes late in the coming week (I remember this was a topic the last time we all discussed PPS's budget). That website: www.pps.k12.or.us

    Have a great weekend.

    Sarah Carlin Ames PPS Communications [email protected]

  • (Show?)

    Did anyone see the numbers in the Oregonian a few days ago? of the 11 large school districts in the metro area, Portland had smaller class sizes than all but three. That puts the lie to the idea that it's all going to "waste, fraud and abuse," or to adminsitrative overhead (Portland's is almost the lowest in the nation for large urban districts). Yes, folks are tired of paying taxes -- so am I. But this tax, at .95%, would have essentially replaced the Multnomah 1.25% tax. All it really meant was we'd get less of a tax cut.

    We pay more, and put the "burden" on local businesses (and let's get real about how that burden compares nationally) because we believe in educating children, having a skilled work force, adn maintaining a vibrant center city. You can't have low crime, stable housing or a strong economy without strong schools, so good public education is a social program for everyone, not just the one home in six with a PPS kid.

    If (when) this tax dies, the naysayers, the Republicans, and those who simply were willing to short change their own children in Applegate, Estacada and elsewhere have won -- we got tired adn we finally gave up. Well, I at least want to thank every parent, every citizen, every volunteer who fought like a cornered wolverine for more than half a generation to keep what we had as long as we had.

    Adjusted for inflation, PPS has 1/3 LESS than it did in 1990. Adjusted for inflation, teachers have made no headway. The percentage of children with expensive educaitonal needs -- ESL and those with disabilites has climbed. The oldest physical plant in the state is 16 years older. And yet there are those who think that if you say "fraud, waste and abuse enough, it will make it so, just as President keeps telling us Iraq is a "stable Democracy." Of course, he also told us in his SOTU address that we needed to invest in education, then the next day cut $12 billion in student loan funding . . . but I digress.

    My son only has a year left in the PPS system. Then I'm an empty nester. But so ling as I live in this City, I will support taxes for schools. And so long as the Republcians in Washington build "bridges to nowhere," fund $28 billion a year in farm subsidies, and run up massive deficits that our children will have to pay -- children we won't be educating well enough to compete globally so that they can make those payments -- hearing from the GOP folks about how bad local government is -- on THIS web site -- rings more than a bit hollow. And I haven't heard one of them tell us where THEIR children (if they have them) go to school. I guess it's only a good government program if it helps them personally.

  • Bailie (unverified)

    Marc, I am very interested in the data supporting your statement:

    "Adjusted for inflation, teachers have made no headway."

    The data that I have from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT, AFL-CIO) for the state of Oregon shows that Oregon teachers are well ahead of "Inflation adjusted salaries" since 1971. When figuring benefits in pushes these numbers higher yet. I have been looking for data to the contrary and you must have it. Could you supply a link, please. I realize you were referring to PPS, that information would be appreciated also. Thank you.

  • Steve Schopp (unverified)

    Steady Marc, """"And so long as the Republicans in Washington build "bridges to nowhere," fund $28 billion a year in farm subsidies, and run up massive deficits that our children will have to pay"""""

    Right here in stumptown your Democrats are about to build the $600 million Transit Mall/light rail to nowhere, currently fund $60 million a year in development subsidies and run up massive Urban Renewal debt to be paid back with property taxes from us and our children. (PSU urban studies professor Gerald Mildner call the Mall "insanity")

    Those are UR property taxes which would otherwise fund schools but instead will diminish the State common school fund and every school district budget in the State. $100 million worth of property taxes will be diverted from basic services, this year alone, in the Metro region. That's right off the top of the State fund every year and it's increasing faster than the cost of basic services rise.
    Nice priorities. Democrats at Metro are about to push to the front of the line, (ahead of schools and other basic needs), another $220 million bond measure to buy more wetlands and open space, just spent $2 million to help Beaverton buy the Westgate theater for developers, while they have no money for planning. Nice priorities. The Democrats at the 220 employee PDC are about to build a convention center hotel funded in part with Urban Renewal. Again more borrowing and payback with basic services property taxes for decades. Democrats at the Port of Portland, among other things, are about to build another new headquarters at the Airport and move from their fairly new building downtown.
    Sewers are crumbling, water distribution is facing an impending fiscal crisis, deferred road maintenance stacks up with a five year budget $8 million short, a Burnside-Couch makeover is somehow important, large swaths of SoWa will be property tax exempt as OHSU pays none, Democrats at TriMet are on a feeding frenzy of rate increases, boondoggle planning and long term commitments impossible to keep,

    AND affordable housing is an endangered species. For starters but not all.

    All of which has plenty of local democratic critics along with Republicans and Independents.

    So enough of the party talk and the chaos.

    Someone better step up to the plate to lead with real changes instead of rhetoric and revenue debates.

  • Bailie (unverified)

    Sid, From the website you mentioned, www.taxfoundation.org The "total tax burden per state" , Oregon is ranked 32nd for 2005. http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/335.html

    This (Oregon's 32nd ranking) does not consider Oregon's 4th highest ranking in "Fees, Charges and Interest", however.

    Where did you get the 44th ranking? Are you suggesting that your approach justifies higher taxation for Oregon/Portland? Why do you suggest that Oregon K-12 funding is a Democrat/Republican issue? Or do you? Shouldn't the issue be, "what is best for Oregon and K-12 students"?

  • Ron Ledbury (unverified)

    Ms. Ames,

    Group’s strategy: Sue for schools http://www.portlandtribune.com/archview.cgi?id=33826

    The article mentions a new group called "Oregon School Funding Defense Foundation" and refers to a research role for Bob Van Brocklin who is intimately involved with Portland Schools Foundation.

    The nexus is quite clear. Feel free to ask Mr. Van Brocklin if the odds of getting a fast track are higher without a pending tax measure on the ballot. It is more than plausible that it was tactical, but it would surely not be something one would reveal publicly, for obvious reasons. Even you need only know the poll results, for your own good.

    What is less clear is the apparent need to create an alternative entity. It does add one more layer of Teflon to avoid conflicts and complications that might arise. I don't recall running across any instance or case where an incorporation's sole purpose for existence is to bring one law suit. But nothing surprises me any more.

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    After reading the posts by the two city council candidates, I'm left scratching my head.

    Mr. Hinds: you proposed a two-year, $150 million bond and then said after that, Mayor Tom and everyone else will have to think of something. Reminds me of an old Ranier beer commercial. But guess what, after those two years, the something we think of will have to involve raising taxes.

    Mr. Smith: Interesting talk on equity among various neighborhood schools, but you never actually say how you would resolve the shortfall in the school district budget. In your second post, you say "businesses don't pay taxes..Never have, never will." Uh, just a couple of decades ago, businesses in Oregon paid about half of all taxes the state collected. Yes, businesses make profits over and above what they budgeted for labor, capital, rent, etc. Sometimes they make huge profits. And those huge profits often go to the founders and managers of the companies, who then buy up farm land in the Willamette Valley for McMansion hobby farms or other properties on the coast and in central Oregon--and get to write off all that mortgage interest on their second, third and ad nauseum homes. They're going into Ann Sachs or Pratt & Larson to buy quantities of $100 per sq. ft. tile to put into their horse stables.

    So as for city council, I'm gonna stick with the guys we got, or maybe Amanda.

  • SW PDX Parent (unverified)

    As a supporter and defender of the ITax, I have to admit that I was unconvinced of the wisdom of this tax proposal. Don´t get me wrong, I´m happy to pay more taxes and I think our state has been abysmal at creating a stable and sufficiently robust school funding system. But as a PPS parent, I´m unconvinced the current leadership is able to make decisions the public will support. From busting the custodian´s union and illegally firing Goldschmidt, to the school closure debacle last winter and Jefferson uniform proposals, PPS has shown a remarkable skill at self-immolation.

    I believe those decisions, and the resulting expenditures have done more to diminish public support for Portland schools than PBA´s push poll. Mayor Potter acted courageously in proposing the city-wide tax, but it´s probably smart to withdraw and regroup.

    The real solution to the funding problem lies in Salem, but the Dems are not the problem. Reps Minnis, Morgan and Richardson bear much of the blame for the crisis--it´s just too bad we have district leaders replenishing their ammunition.

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)

    The Saturday Feb 11th Oregonian mentioned significant opposition to the 600 million dollar transit mall project. Since there is clearly no consensus on the wisdom of going forward AND 40% of that 600 million was going to be paid by state and local government....why not STOP the transit mall project in it's tracks, and take a portion of the 40% ($240 million dollars) Portland and the state seem to have tucked away and available to spend.....and invest that in our schools???????

    Considering everything, the spending priorities should be aimed in the direction of education.....not 75 million dollar trams (my prediction) and 600 million dollar transit mall redesigns.

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)

    The Saturday Feb 11th Oregonian mentioned significant opposition to the 600 million dollar transit mall project. Since there is clearly no consensus on the wisdom of going forward AND 40% of that 600 million was going to be paid by state and local government....why not STOP the transit mall project in it's tracks, and take a portion of the 40% ($240 million dollars) Portland and the state seem to have tucked away and available to spend.....and invest that in our schools???????

    Considering everything, the spending priorities should be aimed in the direction of education.....and 600 million dollar transit mall redesigns, nor huge PDC projects that defer massive amounts of property taxes to keep Homer Williams happy.


  • Bailie (unverified)

    Charlie, I think that most voters have become sensitive to the allocation of revenue which is not in the best interest of the students. Measures 28 and 30 were indicative of this feeling. Until it is perceived that tax dollars will be better used, I don't think additional taxes will be accepted.

  • Steve Schopp (unverified)

    """""""Since there is clearly no consensus on the wisdom of going forward AND 40% of that 600 million was going to be paid by state and local government....why not STOP the transit mall project in it's tracks"""""

    Absolutely. And when TriMet's Fred Hansen is shown the door for promoting insanity in the face of fiscal calamity I'll turn Blue and vote for a sales tax.

    Well, as long as it reduces some other tax like capital gains or property taxes.

  • Robert Huffman (unverified)

    "Since there is clearly no consensus on the wisdom of going forward AND 40% of that 600 million was going to be paid by state and local government....why not STOP the transit mall project in it's tracks."

    Absolutely. When public officials stop wasting money on public transit boondoggles like light rail on the transit mall and OHSU's Disney-ride, THEN come talk to me about raising taxes.

  • Chris (unverified)

    Perhaps the polls mean that the PPS and Portland Schools Foundation PR machine is not working. Trying to blame everything on the past is a tired message that the public isn't buying. The citizens of Portland supported both a local option and the Itax during and after the "failures of Ben Canada."

    Oregon Dept of Education did not audit PPS--a first in state history--while Ben Canada was superintendent and despite the "messaging" to the contrary, much of the audit is focused on actions taken under Phillips. While the Oregonian doesn't make the connection, it's not too hard for attentive citizens to remember the coverage of the findings of Phillip's mismanagement in the Lancaster audit.

    Canada was not responsible for the costly settlements due to Phillips' mismanagement. The focus is on Goldschmidt but what about the several hundred thousand dollar settlement to avoid a discrimination suit by Milken award winning african-american principal Judy Bryant and the more quiet but costly exit of several other administrators.

    While PPS makes much of the teacher cuts it is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on new administrative positions and support to the Superintendent. Take the Department of Teaching and Learning--5 new $100,000+ administrators. At the end of the Scherzinger administration not one of those positions existed. Scherzinger had 1.5 support staff--I've lost count of how many Phillip's has. If you've visited the central office lately you've seem the evidence of thousands of dollars spent on creating new office space for these new administrators.

    Finally, while the PPS PR machine and PSF crank out media releases on the educational leadership of Phillips it appears to be smoke and mirrors. PPS schools have and will continue to improve student achievement. This started in the Canada administration, continued through the Scherzinger administration, and will continue in the Phillip's administration. There is no evidence that it has anything to do with the Superintendent but rather the dedicated principals and teachers at individual schools who know how to teach our children. They continue despite, not because of the Superintendent, Guyer, Mayor, County Commissioner, School Board.

    For the first time in my voting history (in any state or community) I will vote against a school funding measure. I will instead calculate what I would have paid and donate the money instead to my local schools where it will stay out of the hands of the Phillips machine.

  • Oscar (unverified)

    Hey schools flack...not a push poll, huh?

    Then release it. What's the big secret?

    The poll apparently has had a dramatic effect on public policy; it will affect the lives of tens of thousands of kids, but none of us hoi polloi is worthy of reviewing the results for ourselves?

    And let's not get all dry drunk Bushy and start redacting the results. Us cake eaters want to see the whole thing or be left alone with our crumbs.

  • Marvinlee (unverified)

    For the record, I agree with Bailie's posts. I invite those who disagree to respond with contravening data, not invective. In reference to the Portland School Board post stating "There is uncertainty about this economic recovery, and when it will actually make a real difference for Portlanders," does anyone here have data on the degree to which Portland family incomes have changed since Oregon's ongoing economic recovery?

  • Ben (unverified)

    I've got friends who are principals and teachers. I hear a lot of the same things from them that Chris talks about. They also say that they have so many consultants running around the district its like the keystone cops. They have to sit through meeting after meeting with these so called experts rather than spend time in classrooms or getting more important work done. Nobody peeps anymore because if it gets back to Phillps or her sentries the pay back is pretty ugly. Staff keep their heads down and a lot of talent has left the district or is trying to leave.

    We've been happy with our elementary school but plan to move kids to private school for middle school starting next year. I don't want to have to send my girl to a gender segregated school but don't have the time to transport her across town to a decent middle school (if she could even get in).

    PPS won't be getting my vote. I need the money for tuition but will continue to give to our neighborhood elementary school.

  • Marvinlee (unverified)

    Sid Leader asserts "Poor Bailie calls for cutting teacher salaries... which is like asking W to put down the near-beer." I value that statement because it is direct, unmistakably clear, and therefore highly checkable. In fact, I have never read a statement by Bailie that calls for cutting teachers' salaries.

  • se pdx parent (unverified)

    We are looking at real estate out of the district. Four children out of the schools.

    My brother (two more kids) already sends his kids to private schools.

    This is really sad. But I am close to giving up.

    Welcome to yuppie disneyland. Enjoy it while you can.

  • Buckman Res (unverified)

    It is time to think in unique, creative ways about solving the school funding problem. I suggest Oregon’s political leaders work to change the Oregon constitution so as to allow a state-operated casino within the city limits of Portland, possibly in the Rose Quarter area, with all the proceeds directed towards school funding in Oregon.

    Instead of another Band-Aid, stop-gap solution which the proposed tax was, this idea would require real political courage and leadership. I hope that leadership exists in Portland.

  • Bailie (unverified)

    Buckman Res, Should we also, look at how Oregon K-12 allocates revenue? In comparison to Washington, we allocate $500 million more per year in individual compensation, to fewer employees. No one feels comfortable addressing that difference, but it is the primary reason why Oregon has a funding problem. Our K-12 revenue in Oregon is almost exactly the same as Washington (per student). This is the first year in the last 15 years that Washington has spent as much as Oregon per student. We have spent more (per student) than California and Idaho in every year for the last 15 years. We have spent more (per student) than the U.S. average state, every year except three in the last 15 years. So clearly, total revenue is not nearly the problem as how that income is distributed.

  • Ben (unverified)

    California and Washington have controls on teacher salaries and benefits--this is a major reason for the cost difference. PPS teachers still have a rich insurance benefit package and they only have to pay about $70 per month for full family coverage. Lots of moaning about salary but lots of PPS teachers get paid $55,000 plus for 190 day work year--full time for the rest of the world is 260 days. They also get money for tuition and professional development. And, they expect to be paid for any extra time they spend beyond a 7.5 hour day. I tried to meet with my kid's teacher but she refused to meet after 4:00 unless the got paid extra money. Her principal said that it was true based on the contract and she didn't have the money to pay for extra hours. My choice was to take time off from my work or not meet with the teacher.

    Since PPS can't seem to control its spending habits like everything else the solution lies with the legislature. It needs to set teacher salary schedules and maximum benefits. In the meantime, I'm not interested in giving more money so that PPS can negotiate it away to the PAT.

  • yun chong (unverified)

    I now live in Vancouver. Now so many people are moving from Oregon to Vancouver making mostly positive changes here.

    I used to live in Portland and attended high school when I immigrated back in 76. My brothers all are product of Portland school system - both moved on to ivy league schools + post graduate school. There were no fancy facilities. My cross country team and tennis team had to walk 1 1/2 miles to use city facilities. We never complained since it's like that for years and still does. Our gyms/auditorium were very old (50+ yrs) with no upgrades done for yrs. Same with many labs etc. Yet our school consistently produced one of the best scores in the nation for decades even with recent wave of immigrants from Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. My school was inner city school. Which Portland High school am I talking about?? Portland Maine.

    I agree many comments from many people above - too many consultants, teachers benefits too generous, spending per student above national average, recent yrs Oregon cut too much on school budget. But my humble opinion is Portland is a rich city but focus on people of Portland is not education. "We get all these highly educated young people all over the country - so why put money on local school system?" "We rather be known as Pearl district condo-micro brewing-earth loving-alternative living haven for adults with no children". These folks attitudes are "love-peace-hug" and "I rather save earth by spend money on Whole-food, RIE or big cars (I have never seen so many big SUVs here than any other part of the country). Big companies like Nike, Intel and Columbian sports could also chip in.

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