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PCC Board Approves Bond Resolution for Filing in the May Primary Election
Photos and Story by James Hill
The Portland Community College board of directors recently approved a resolution to file its $144 million bond measure with the county elections office. The proposal, approved by the board at its Jan. 27 meeting, is designated 26-01 and will be on district vote-by-mail ballots, which are issued by county elections offices April 28, for the May 16 primary election.
To succeed, the measure will need to achieve the necessary "super" majority, more than 50 percent of the vote and more than a 50 percent voter turnout. The 20-year bond issue will be used to finance the costs of capital construction and improvements across PCC’s 1,500-square-mile district.
"We have conducted extensive studies of our facilities needs to meet the needs of our district through the year 2010," said Dan Moriarty, PCC president. "Based on very conservative estimates, we will have 120,000 students by then. Currently, the college is enrolling 90,000 students each year. We have experienced enrollment growth each of our last 12 terms."
The $144 million price tag would cost an estimated average of 13.5 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value $20.25 for a home valued at $150,000.
"The founders of PCC were very wise when they set up the taxing district," added Moriarty. "When the bond is spread across so many metro-area homes, it is possible to achieve much with actually very little cost per district resident."
Moriarty also pointed out that the cost to property owners in the last decade has actually dropped by a substantial amount. In the late ’80s, before Measure 5 changed the way schools were funded, property owners were paying close to $1 per thousand for PCC services; currently it now averages 35 cents per thousand.
The bond measure would provide more classrooms and laboratories to accommodate the enrollment growth. It would also update aging facilities, including science and computer classrooms to meet the technology requirements needed for today’s workforce. In addition, improvements would be made to make buildings safe, including roof repairs, and replacing aging electrical wiring and heating systems.
PCC’s newest board member, David Kish, who represents parts of Southeast Portland, said, "PCC has provided high-quality, low-cost education to hundreds of thousands of people since it opened in the early ’60s. This bond measure will address changing technology and make room for the increasing numbers of students who want preparation for good jobs and who want to go on to four-year schools."
The bond measure would be allocated as follows:
Sylvania Campus would receive $42 million to renovate and upgrade the technology in science, dental, graphic design, radiology and computer labs. For example, enrollment in the college’s computer information system programs have increased 70 percent in five years. It would also build a general purpose and distance learning facility. In addition, a boiler needs replacement, fire suppression equipment needs updating, as well as roof repairs, emergency lighting and other electrical work
At Cascade Campus in North Portland, $57 million would be devoted to expanding the campus through the purchase of land and constructing a new science building, and advanced technology buildings, a humanities building with a community auditorium, and a physical education center. Plus, renovations and repairs will be made to existing buildings to meets disability requirements and safety standards.
The Rock Creek Campus would get $35 million to build a library which is currently one-third the size it needs to be to meet accreditation standards, more science and computer laboratories to meet increased student demand. Plus, the bond would overhaul technical training labs in many of the two-year career programs such as welding, diesel and landscaping which have not been renovated for 25 years.
PCC training centers would get a total of $9 million to enlarge classroom and lab space at Southeast Center, and to repair and improve classrooms and labs at the Northeast Washington County and Central Portland locations.