"It is a misnamed proposal. It is not urban renewal. It would fund neither high priority education projects nor high priority economic development projects. It would take taxes from relatively poor geographic districts and invest them in a relatively wealthy district."
I am campaigning with one placard against the proposal and previously blogged my opposition (here):
It is a misnamed proposal. It is not urban renewal. It would fund neither high priority education projects nor high priority economic development projects. It would take taxes from relatively poor geographic districts and invest them in a relatively wealthy district.
I’ve previously noted Edward Fruits questioning “Why Rebuild Lincoln High School?” (here).
And, in another prior blog post I asked “Why is PPS going along with a shift of $74 million from PPS to PSU?” (here):
Powerpoint displays and written documents distributed showed Portland Public Schools shifting $74,517,313 in “Revenues Foregone 2014-2045” to the urban renewal district. On the other hand, $10 million would be allocated “to partner with PPS for investments that improve the educational environment and the intensity of development at the Lincoln (High School) campus.” Given the way tax increment urban renewal works, most of the funding shift would take place well into the 2012-2045 urban renewal period.
The question is “Why would PPS Superintendent Carole Smith, members of the PPS Board, and significant PPS stakeholders, like the Portland Association of Teachers, go along with this loss of future funding?” Am I missing some balancing benefit to PPS?
David Wynde, PPS’ Deputy Chief Financial officer, answered my question at the Commission hearing. As I now understand, I was missing some information. Wynde explained that the property tax abatement funds would, if they were not abated, be paid into the State School Fund, not directly to Portland Public Schools. PPS then gets only 8% of the funds back when State School Funds are distributed. So, PPS effectively loses only 8%, or about $5.9 million, of the estimated $74 million in foregone revenues. The remaining $68.1 million is a loss to the State School Fund and, thus, to poorer school districts all across Oregon.
The Education Urban Renewal Area would, thus, keep Portland property taxes in Portland. Rather than going to K-12 schools all across Oregon, the $74 million (including PPS’ share) will be spent to benefit PSU.
The Planning and Sustainability Commission did discuss the “equity” issues in the proposal. “Equity” is a priority concern in the new Portland Plan. They take it seriously. They looked for ways to make the proposal more equitable in Portland, but found nothing they could do. They ended, in my opinion, saying screw all the high school in PPS but Lincoln, screw the other school districts in Portland, and screw all those poor school districts across Oregon. The Planning and Sustainability Commission may talk the talk on equity, but, faced with their first substantive “equity” issues, they failed to walk the walk. ___________________________________________________________________
Further note: I’ve been unable to get state government, PPS, or any school district in Oregon to allocate even $30,000 (or more) for a pilot program to pay for five high school students to study abroad (China should be a priority). $74 million, at $10,000 each, could pay for 7,400 high school students studying abroad. Over thirty years that would be 246 high school students per year. Clearly, in my opinion, a higher priority than anything PSU can do.