Voters show strong support for Portland teachers levy
Measure 26-207, the Portland teachers levy, passed by more than 77% in Tuesday's special election.
The election was marked by low voter turnout. By the time the polls closed, 32% of voters had turned in ballots, the Multnomah County Elections Office reported.
The levy, a local option tax that pays for more than 800 Portland Public Schools teachers, was embraced by those who did cast ballots in Tuesday's election.
Measure 26-207 called for a renewal of the levy at the same rate of $1.99 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Portland Public Schools expects the tax levy will funnel nearly $100 million into the district next year, and by 2025, nearly $117 million could be generated from the levy if economic assumptions hold true.
Unlike tax bases, the money generated by levies increases as more people move into a district
The district swayed voters by boasting of steadily increasing graduation rates, but some were quick to point out the district's failures. Projects promised from previous bond measures were delayed or put on hold as construction costs skyrocketed. Safety upgrades like internal door locks at several sites also have yet to be implemented. But advocates, including many from the Portland Association of Teachers — the teachers union representing district educators — reminded voters that Measure 26-207 was a single stream of funding specifically for teaching positions; nearly one third of the district's current teaching staff.
Hours before the first results rolled in Tuesday evening, Julia Brim-Edwards, PPS school board director, said she was confident in the money raised and campaigning done to drive voter support for the measure.
When the measure officially passed, she called it a "huge win" for the district.
"That's a big vote of confidence in the measure," Brim-Edwards said Tuesday evening. "People know the imapct (this) will have on students. This was critical to lay the foundation for the work ahead."
The school board member said voter turnout was actually slightly higher than she and others who helped campaign for the measure expected.
Brim-Edwards called teachers "one of the most important components" of children's lives.
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