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Prosperity begins with education investment

Readers' Letters
by: Jennifer Hardin Voters have just another week left to show their support — or not — for two school funding measures on the ballot.

Thank you for your editorial in support of the Portland schools capital bond (Money for schools cannot be delayed, April 21). It is heartening that at least one local newspaper understands that getting started on repairing and rebuilding our public schools is absolutely vital for our local economy as well as the education and safety of our children.

PPS is the only school district in the metro area without a dedicated capital bond. With declining state funding, scarce operating dollars cannot stretch far enough to take care of the failing roofs, ancient boilers and pressing seismic needs in our schools, let alone to upgrade our aging schools to be 21st century spaces for teaching and learning.

If we want to keep families in Portland, attract businesses and increase property values, we must invest in our public schools.

Ruth Adkins

Southwest Portland

Schools must make better case

I have a very difficult time believing that Portland Public Schools needs hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for new schools and repairs of existing buildings, when their own demographic data shows enrollment is shrinking with a flight of families with children to the suburbs (Money for schools cannot be delayed, April 21).

Instead, there seems a systemic problem with PPS' priorities if it cannot keep up with maintenance of occupied buildings, yet continues to hold onto existing empty buildings. Further, having grown up in a city that had school buildings predating WWII but still in good use with regular upkeep, I am deeply suspicious of the way PPS is using its money. If you're keeping score, these buildings in my hometown are over 75 years old, but remain in use to this day, and have been periodically updated and regularly kept up.

And there is no guarantee that new buildings and/or repairs will lead to satisfactory outcomes. One only needs to look at Lake Oswego and Lakeridge to see that new things don't necessarily work better.

I've seen Housing Authority of Portland use architects to make a case for replacing building complexes; I suspect PPS is doing the same thing here. These new ads implying that the schools are dangerous seems to me hyperbole. Let's have the building inspectors and fire marshals look over the building and come up with problems that make these existing buildings unsafe, and have them priced - first.

PPS has to make a better case than they have in order for me to want to vote to increase my taxes by hundreds of dollars.

Gregg Mizuno

Northwest Portland

Children deserve safe schools

Keeping our students safe, warm and dry is high on my civic priority list, and that's why I support Measures 26-121 and 26-122. I love Portland, and I hope my daughters decide to spend their adult lives here. By all means we should support both measures, because what makes our schools stronger makes our city stronger.

We can't wait any longer to fix our schools. If we wait, the antiquated oil boilers at our schools will get even older and be more expensive to operate, maintain and repair. The leaks in the roofs will get worse. Student enthusiasm will continue to flag and teachers will have a more difficult time. Measure 26-121 would rectify many of these inadequacies.

Portland Public Schools are the only schools in the metro area that have no dedicated funding for capital repairs. There have not been any significant repairs over the years, because of the need to shift budget monies or ask voters for operating funds instead of capital funds.

This month, we are being asked to contribute toward both, and my ballot has been cast with 'yes' votes. I urge others to do the same. The children of this city deserve it and this city's future depends upon the support of all its citizens.

Craig Williams

Northeast Portland

No children? You should opt out

How does it make any kind of sense for me to vote yes to a service I have never, nor will I ever use (Money for schools cannot be delayed, April 21)?

I am a non-breeding homeowner who can find no redeeming qualities in the PPS system worth increasing my house payment $50 to $120 (no one can say for sure) a month. This glorified child care service should stand on its own. Tuition (day care) fees should be changed.

At the very least, taxpaying homeowners like myself - who get zero service for this proposed increase - should be able to opt out.

Mike Smith

North Portland

Students have waited too long

Looking at the list of needs for our schools - and the bond provides something for every school in Portland - it is amazing how The Oregonian could simply ask Portland's students to 'wait.'

Wait to rebuild and seismically upgrade buildings constructed when Franklin Roosevelt was president? Wait to replace smoking, costly and inefficient boilers installed before we put a man on the moon? Wait to upgrade science labs installed before most Americans had touched a computer?

Our kids, teachers, parents and the larger community have waited long enough. It's time to renovate, restore and reinvigorate our schools to finally show Portland's students they won't be asked to wait forever.

Nathan Means

Northeast Portland

Business support has another motive

Finally, some folks are brave enough to question the two tax proposals put on the May ballot by Portland Public Schools ('Build later' campaign walks bond tightrope, March 24).

The large amount of money coming in to support the 'yes' vote by 'Portlanders for Schools' seems weighted by contributions from businesses that stand to gain from the jobs created by school construction projects. Are we really worried about safety for our kids or just a jump-start to the local economy?

As one of the 80 percent of people without children in PPS and a retired homeowner already paying $916 yearly in just PPS education taxes alone, I will vote to continue the local operating levy, but I will not support the $548 million facilities bond measure.

There has to be much more detailed work done on this proposal to 'sell' it to the voters. We need to know exactly what is being done in each PPS building first.

Carolyn Rundorff

Southwest Portland

Parents thank PPS for planning

I was pleased to see the Portland Tribune recommend a 'yes' vote on both the PPS operating levy and capital bond. Thank you for being in tune with the very real needs and convictions of our proudly pro-public schools community (Money for schools cannot be delayed, April 21).

I moved here 10 years ago, in large part because I would be able to live in a terrific city and send my children to public school, which I believe in deeply.

To date, I have been very proud to say, 'I am a Portland Public School parent.' But if the asbestos doesn't go and the boilers keep breaking and the electrical systems can't handle modern equipment, and, God forbid, there's an earthquake, I'll be less proud and very concerned about the education of the city's children.

Simply put, we'll never be able to afford the needed (and now planned, thankfully) safety upgrades without a bond that invests in our school buildings.

So thank you, PPS, for taking on this much-needed long-range planning and investment in our kids - and our city.

Lisa Frack

Southeast Portland