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School Notes: School fixes sought; PCC gets $577M for manufacturing; PSU named top LGBTQ school; PCC's new chair, vice chair

School Notes is a collection of education news around Portland. E-mail tips to [email protected]com.

Education organizers want maintenance money

Oregon PTA, Children First for Oregon, and the Oregon Education Association released a report last week calling on the state to address $7.6 billion in deferred maintenance costs in schools.

The study’s authors say there are numerous examples where continued disinvestment exposed children in Oregon’s public schools to serious health risks.

“We’ve heard a lot about lead in our water, but unfortunately that’s just the beginning of the story,” said Hanna Vaandering, elementary physical education teacher and OEA president, in a statement. “Investment in infrastructure has not been a priority, and that has placed far too many of our students at unacceptable risk.”

In addition to lead-tainted water, the organizations listed earthquake risks, radon, mold and other asthma triggers as concerns.

Also, the groups said in a news release that Oregon’s per-student spending on facility maintenance is only 37 percent of what the National Council on School Facilities recommends — a shortfall of $1,133 per student. And maintenance spending is down 36 percent in Oregon compared to the early 2000s, they added.

PCC wins money for work force training

Portland Community College won the largest grant award this year from the Oregon Talent Council, a new group created by the 2015 Legislature to fund talent development programs for high-wage, high-demand occupations.

PCC will get a $577,500 one-year grant for the Realizing Advanced Manufacturing Potential in Portland (RAMP PDX) Project. The project aims to improve the skilled-worker pipeline for advanced manufacturing companies in the region, paving the way for workers to attain certifications and degrees. The college also will contribute $1.5 million to the project.

PCC will partner with four companies, including Festo Didactic Inc., Leupold + Stevens, Inc., RapidMade and Rose Technical Graphics, to serve about 300 participants in the RAMP PDX Project. Coordinators will organize outreach events at PCC’s MakerSpace Lab to introduce advanced manufacturing training, career and educational options in the industry to new audiences.

PSU named among top LGBTQ schools

Campus Pride recently named Portland State University among the Top 30 LGBTQ-friendly college campuses in the country on its 2016 Best of the Best list.

LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer or questioning.

PSU earned a rating of 4.5, appearing with only one other Oregon university, Ashland’s Southern Oregon University, which received a perfect score of 5.

For eight years, the list has sought to highlight the most LGBTQ-inclusive colleges and universities when it comes to policy, programs and practice in higher education. Campus Pride uses its Campus Pride Index with specific LGBTQ-inclusive measures, such as inclusive policies, student organizations, counseling and recruitment. An urban and largely commuter school, PSU scored lowest for its housing and residence life.

“This recognition is not an endpoint, but encouragement to continue doing more and better to make LGBTQ students a priority on our campus,” said Craig Leets, director of PSU’s Queer Resource Center, in a news release.

PCC names new board chair, vice chair

Portland Community College’s Board of Directors named Gene Pitts as chair and Kali Thorne-Ladd vice chair for the 2016-17 academic year on Aug. 18.

Pitts, who works as a technical marketing director for Intel, has represented western Zone 6 since 2009. Thorne-Ladd, representing northern Zone 2 since 2012, is connected to many regional nonprofits focused on education and became interested in the college through the Future Connect Scholarship Program.