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Portland (Ore.) district puts $1.2 billion bond request on November ballot

July 29, 2020
The bond proposal is the district's largest ever

The Portland (Ore.) school board has voted to put a $1.2 billion proposal—the district’s largest ever construction bond measure—before voters in November.

The Portland Oregonian reports that money generated by the bonds would extensively renovate Jefferson High School, cover hundreds of millions in cost overruns from projects voters approved in 2017 and invest millions more in technology for students who will be taught remotely until at least November.

The ballot question comes in at about $200 million less than the $1.4 billion bond that district officials initially had discussed.

The proposal to remake Jefferson, which district officials estimate will cost $311 million, remains nearly identical to the previous plan.

Another $60 million would pay for updates to schools surrounding Jefferson to develop a Center For Black Student Excellence in conjunction with the Albina Vision Trust, a nonprofit devoted to uplifting up the Portland area’s Black population.

If passed, the bond also would provide $64 million to merge the two campuses of alternative high school Alliance High and move them to Benson High School in inner Northeast Portland.

The second largest chunk of the bond would allocate $152 million for construction at Benson.

The bond also would provide $128 million for technology and another $53 million for curriculum.

The money would go toward the purchase of Chromebooks to ensure every student has access to a computer for distance learning.

Most district students may be allowed to return to classrooms by the first full week of November, but high school juniors and seniors will be required to attend classes online until February, district officials say.

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