Fairness Controversy with Portland Funding Schools

City Commissioner Erik Sten, sealed the deal just before leaving office earlier this month.

$19 million in taxpayer money would be diverted from the River District urban renewal area and sent to David Douglas School District on the outskirts of town. The school district has faced constant change over the past decade as developers and working-class families fled inner Portland’s expensive housing prices.

Government watchdogs wondered whether the deal was legal. Critics questioned whether David Douglas really needed the money, especially when its voters turned down a bond to build the school two years ago. Laws governing urban renewal don’t explicitly permit or prohibit satellite districts. Sten said the only legal issue he saw was that the rural area planned for the new school may not meet the definition of “blighted.”

Portland school board members said the city made the deal without notifying them in advance. Confidence in the city was rocked by giving such a large gift to one district in Portland when the needs are so strong in every district. Reynolds Superintendent said there should be “a clear lens through which we look at this that has transparency and some sort of value-based decision-making as far as schools, needs and responsiveness. At Gilbert Park Elementary a parent worries about overcrowding in all high-density areas…”How dare they get off making decisions about community without considering our children?”

“See Oregonian article here”

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 15 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    This sounds good. We must do it for the children. More money always helps.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Ahhhh money. Sweet pure emerald green money.

    And if I should cast a gaze on thee
    Oh sweet money.
    Is there nothing more pure,
    More radiant of light
    Than the shine of peoples money other than mine?
    Would that I could only wrap the worlds problems
    as I define
    In that perfect iridescent crinoline that is
    Other Peoples money, spent as I should wish.

    Ahhh Other Peoples Money. My salivary glands do swell and issue forth the river Nile
    In increased secretions at the prospect of thee.
    For is there not a single problem.
    A single itch I cannot scratch
    On the body public
    No wound that cannot be healed
    With out extensive
    and luxurious application
    Of the salve from God that is thee
    Other Peoples Money.

  • Bob Clark

    Did you have to put Sten’s picture up? I’m trying to forget him, like a bad nightmare.

  • jim karlocik

    Don’t suppose that he has a job lined up with that school district?


  • Anon

    Dang. Someone cares about poor people. What a jerk.

  • dean

    I’m confused. Isn’t it a regular gripe from conservatives that urban renewal takes tax money from schools and builds parks for yuppies? And that inner city urban renewal areas build housing that does not work for families with kids? Didn’t Sten just change the game by taking money that would have gone to more parks for yuppies with no kids and divert it to build a school in a neighborhood with poor kids? I can understand the deprived yuppies complaining, but why you all?


      Smoke and mirrors Dean, this school will never be built. Sten knew that when he proposed it. The liberals will try to claim credit for the attempt ” but legally it wasn’t possible” is why they couldn’t get it done. It makes it look like they want to spend money elsewhere besides down town, we all know Randy Leonard could never stomach that.

      Urban Renewal does take tax money away from schools and services, it only a cash cow for developers. As the current collapse of the condo. market downtown can attest to.

    • cc

      “I’m confused. Isn’t it a regular gripe from conservatives that urban renewal takes tax money from schools and builds parks for yuppies?”

      You’re not confused, you’re misinformed. Actually you’re just doing your usual obtuse bit.

      Cite one “conservative” that has stated that “gripe”.

      Oh, and please define “conservative” in THIS context so that we may distinguish it from the multiplicity of other definitions you employ when expedient.

    • John in Oregon

      Yes. The complaints that urban renewal and tax increment financing subsides for high density housing are a detriment to the education and public safety property tax base are accurate and valid. Lars among others have talked about the problem.

      The question here is why the City of Portland (Sten and others) feel they have any business running the schools and pickling the winner and looser schools and districts? One might think that deteriorating streets and failing water lines might need some attention.

      An even better question is why anyone believes spending is a valid measure of K-12 school effectiveness. American students enter grade 1 on par with Europe. By grade 6 those American students rank among the lowest and Europe spends far less per student. But then, for most of Europe the finding follows the student, public or private schools not withstanding.

  • Jerry

    Dean, perhaps you did not notice I was applauding this above.


    Hey Erik, about 6 months in invisi-line and that gap could be fixed, just a thought.

    • dean

      Jerry…I detected a facetious tone, based on your past posts. I apologize if I misunderstood.

      CD….maybe you are right and they won’t be able to do it. But assuming it turns out to be legal, would you be opposed to it?

      • CRAWDUDE

        Because the very people who control the cash flow , write the laws. They know this won’t fly, its a sound bite, a feeble attempt for publicity. Sten came up with it because he is leaving so there is no liability for him later. Thats what bothers me!

        It would’ve been better had they not even brought it up 🙂

      • CRAWDUDE

        Sorry, mis-read your post. If its legal, no I would not oppose it. It would be 19 million spent on the southeast of the hundreds of millions in taxes they send to fund the cushy downtown life-style.

        Free Max rides, tax abated condo’s , Free Wi-Fi, etc……

  • Terry Parker

    The next time Portland Public Schools asks voters for more money to fix and repair school buildings, just say NO, and direct them to the Portland City Council to dig up the money from urban renewal. Maybe then instead of streetcars and couplets, Portland can have more refurbished schools without increasing property taxes.

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