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Summary Meeting Notes: August 20, 2012 Education and Youth Success PEG

Summary Meeting Notes

Education and Youth Success Policy Expert Group Meeting #3

Meeting Date: August 20, 2012

Time: 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Attendees: Paul Cathcart, Lois Cohen, Ernesto Contreras, Karen Fischer Gray, Will Fuller, Gabriel Graff, Diana Hall, Douglas Hardy, Michelle Lagos, Mary Richardson, Stacey Triplett, Seth Warren, Lilly Windle, Helen Ying

Staff / Facilitator: Deborah Stein, Bob Glascock, Christina Scarzello, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability; Clark Worth, Barney & Worth

Public / Guests: Don McGillivray, community member; Brett Horner, Portland Parks and Recreation; other public members not identified

View the revised agenda, including materials, for this meeting. 

Welcome and Introductions

Presenter:Clark Worth

Summary: Self-introductions 

Parkrose School District’s Facilities Planning

Presenter: Karen Fischer Gray, Parkrose School District Superintendent

Summary: Karen Fischer Gray presented an overview of the Parkrose District’s $64 million capital facilities bond program, passed by voters in November 2011. The District will build a $42 million state-of-the-art middle school on the site of their existing middle school and renovate other facilities. The cost to property taxpayers is $1.09 per $1,000 of assessed value. Upgrades include installing new technical infrastructure / security / telecommunications, replacing floors and windows, creating multi-use spaces that promote active community use, and re-outfitting school libraries as media centers. The District fully embraces community use and partnerships. The soccer field was rebuilt recently through a partnership of the District, City of Portland and Portland Timbers.

Issues for the District regarding the City of Portland include: requirements for on-site stormwater facilities (in competition with more active uses of limited site area), cost and delays for permitting, restrictions of the sign code and the lack of joint use agreements for parks.

Portland Public Schools’ Facilities Planning

Presenter: Paul Cathcart, Portland Public Schools Office of School Modernization

Summary: Paul Cathcart described the state of PPS facilities planning, and the proposed bond measure on the November 2012 ballot to support school construction and seismic, ADA and other upgrades. The $482 million bond measure would cost taxpayers $1.10 per $1,000 assessed value. There was significant community involvement in developing the “Preferred School Construction Bond” proposal.

Only two new PPS schools (out of 85) have been built in 30+ years.  For most schools, there’s not much flexibility without capital construction.  One of the new schools (Rosa Parks Elementary) is a model for embracing community use.

Community use of PPS schools is already high: 1.3 million users and 685,000 event hours per year. Community use of schools is embedded in the Guiding Principles for PPS’ Long-Range Facilities Plan. PPS suggestions related to Portland’s planning and zoning requirements:

  • Delete the conditional use requirement. Replace this with specific development standards that school construction must follow.
  • Focus development requirements for schools on the most needed improvements and schools, rather than a laundry list (PPS has proposed an MOU with the City).
  • Look at areas around schools to promote complementary zoning that supports schools, and helps stabilize enrollment and funding.
  • Review City requirements that add significant costs to school improvements (e.g. sidewalks, stormwater management, sewers) often costing nearly as much as the facility improvement project itself.

Joint Facilities Agreements

Presenter: Brett Horner, Portland Parks and Recreation

Summary:  Brett Horner gave an overview of coordination on facility use between PP&R and school districts. PP&R and PPS have a long history of joint use agreements dating back to 1957. Portland consolidated several agreements with PPS under one umbrella agreement two years ago to cover 40 sites where parks and schools adjoin. Sports fields are in heavy demand, and their use is scheduled centrally through PP&R permits, following priority setting protocols. Schools get first priority, and community groups and others can use recreational fields when not in use by schools. There is also some ad hoc use of parks and there’s sometimes a “pinch” as the amount of use increases. Another issue is multiple users for fields with artificial turf, which must be replaced on a 10–12 year cycle. PP&R is currently concentrating on developing parks in underserved neighborhoods in East Portland. PP&R doesn’t currently have joint use agreements with Centennial, David Douglas, Parkrose or Reynolds School Districts.

PEG Discussion

Questions and comments offered by PEG members:

  • Land use permitting requirements clearly pose a challenge for schools.  conditional use review costs are prohibitive.  Could these requirements be replaced by a new zone that allows school development by right?
  • Conditional use review addresses institutional nuisance issues raised by neighbors: primarily traffic congestion, circulation (drop-offs and pick-ups) and parking.
  • Are school / community partnership uses treated differently under Portland’s code than community uses of schools? 
  • Schools help create “a better place for all of us to live”—how can we make them come alive?
  • What should be the primary function of schools: education alone?  Community services for kids?  Community services for others?
  • How do schools communicate with the community on their use policies, and the availability of facilities?
  • East Portlandhas a shortage of parks suitable for school use, lacking covered spaces, running water, bathrooms.
  • Who / how / how much to charge for community use of schools is an issue.  Extra maintenance costs need to be recouped. Are life cycle costs considered or only the initial costs? Some materials or equipment may be more durable over time but cost a lot up front.
  • Benefits of community use of schools include natural surveillance—“more eyes on the building”.
  • Bike path / sidewalk / crossing connections to schools are important to promote shared use.
  • Are there any equity considerations build into the prioritization of permits for community use of recreational fields?
  • What is the right spread of costs for community-serving uses – individual users? Taxpayers at large?

Public Comment

Questions and comments raised by members of the public:

  • Are school district costs too high to keep school buildings open after 5:00 p.m. for community use?
  • How and when will the PEG’s work be integrated with other PEGs?  They are having related conversations.
  • The PEG discussion seems too focused on buildings.
  • Schools are vital to school-centered neighborhoods.  But most Portland schools are designed to accommodate a 19th Century educational model.  How can the buildings  be updated with current technology?
  • Is there a PEG that deals with human health issues?

Next Steps

Deborah Stein announced the next PEG meeting on September 17 will follow up on issues identified by Parkrose and PPS and further explore how to provide flexibility for school construction and upgrades while maintaining safeguards to address off-site impacts.

Meeting Handouts and Presentations:


For more information, please contact either Deborah Stein, Bureau of Planning & Sustainability at 503-823-6991 or, or Clark Worth, Facilitator at 503-222-0146 or