Portland students walk out, say school upgrades can't wait

Students protest board's vote to delay bond

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Hundreds of Lincoln High School students walked out of the building at 9 a.m. Wednesday to protest the school board's decision to delay an upcoming bond measure.

The Portland Public School board decided Tuesday night to ask voters in May 2017 to consider a $750 million bond issue that would lead to significant structural improvements at numerous schools, including Lincoln High School.

Students gathered on a sidewalk near the school's athletic field Wednesday morning in a light rain to protest. They then headed to Pioneer Courthouse Square and on to City Hall.

The bond would fund building improvements at the old and overcrowded Lincoln, Madison and Benson high schools and Kellogg Middle School, as well as environmental health and safety upgrades district-wide.

School board members have said that delaying the bond measure from the November ballot is necessary because of the recent issues with school leadership and lead problems in most buildings.

Board vice chair Amy Kohnstamm says the delay will allow the district to better target the money if the $750 million bond passes.

"So we've spent the entire summer doing assessments of all of our buildings so that we can prioritize and we can tell the voters exactly what needs to be done, exactly how much it will cost," she said.

Kohnstamm said the decision to delay the vote will have no impact on the construction schedule if the bond passes. The bond targets Lincoln, Benson, and Madison high schools, and Kellogg Middle School.

Critics of the decision to delay the vote say a May election will have lower voter turnout than November, and that could jeopardize the bond's passage. But Kohnstamm said she's confident that with a strong public outreach campaign, the measure will pass.




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