My View: Jerry Vincent gave schools better future
Editor's note: Jerry Vincent, who most recently served as the chief operating officer for Portland Public Schools, resigned last week. He had been leading the planning for the $790 million bond that was passed by voters in 2017.
I was one of the three finalists for the PPS Office of School Modernization (OSM) chief and was on bond committees that gave me a good insight into the scale and complexity of the projects that would be led by the OSM chief.
We had enormous school rebuild projects and systemwide lead in water and other serious environmental issues. We had roofs leaking everywhere, we had failing electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems due to age and lack of maintenance. And 85 huge school structures were in need of major work.
I, and another person, talked to Jerry Vincent for 45 minutes outside the New Franklin theater. Jerry pointed to the wood panels and described how he had advocated for getting the same look for less cost, how the stairs in the lobby were reworked to function better, how the canopy going to the gym was reinserted into the project. My jaw dropped.
As an architect, I know buildings well and have worked with many facility leaders. Hands down, Jerry Vincent was one of the most conscientious, informed, caring people I had ever seen in a role like that. I worried about the stresses of his job on him, and hoped PPS realized how lucky they were to have someone of this caliber in the position.
I also know many of the OSM staff, and Jerry cared about them tremendously, and tried to create a good workplace for them, despite the pressures on everyone due to the enormity of the projects they were working on.
Go to Franklin. Go to Roosevelt. Go to Faubion. These world-class schools that our kids can now learn in and our teachers can now teach in are the new PPS, and Jerry was behind a lot of it. And look at how much already has improved with making our schools safer. Jerry was behind a lot of it.
Thank you, Jerry Vincent, for what you gave our kids, our teachers, and all of us. And what you gave to Portland's future.