Sunday, September 25, 2005

Closed PPS schools still vacant.

Remember the five elementary schools that PPS closed despite great controversy and opposition last spring? The plan was to lease out the facilities and make some money. Turns out, according to this story in the Tribune, that months later, four of the five buildings are still vacant, because the market wouldn't pay what the district was asking.

Well, Duh. A few years ago I looked into leasing one of the district's vacant facilities. They wanted $12 a square foot. That's about twice what school facilities are worth.

According to the story, the district thinks the newly closed facilities are worth $9-12/SF, but only one of the five buildings has found a tenant, and that is the Multnomah ESD. Great - one tax funded entity leases from another. Big net gain for taxpayers.

The district facilities guy is even quoted as saying that if a tenant needs access to the facility to make leasehold improvements, that they have to pay the rent during the time it takes to make the improvements! That's not how it usually works. Little wonder they can't find tenants.

I would happily lease the Applegate site from them for $6/sf for one of my Arthur Academy Charter Schools But the district wants more.

Actually, I think that PPS should let us use the facility for nothing. Arthur Academy is a public school educating PPS students. School buildings were paid for by taxpayers for the purpose of educating public school students. By what moral standard does the district charge money for public school students to use a facility for the purpose taxpayers intended?

I've asked this very question to Vicki Phillips, Julia Brim Edwards, David Wynde, Bobbie Regan and Dilafruz Williams. Not one of them would answer it.

So they not only want us to pay money to lease the public school facility that we want to use to educate Portland Public School kids, but they are also way off the market in their asking price!

Could it be they don't want to do anything that might help a charter school succeed?

Call me a cynic.


gus miller said...

The district was past due in closing underpopulated buildings.

They should get their act together in leasing out or selling surplus properties.

That includes getting fair market value for space leased to charter schools that contract to provide facilities and education services for a fee.

Rob Kremer said...

Charter schools don't charge a fee - they are free public schools

gus miller said...


Public charter schools contract with the sponsoring district or other qualified entity to educate students for a percentage of the state's per student allocation.

In my book that is a fee per group of students.

Public education ain't free as the state and district budgets prove.

Rob Kremer said...

yes you are right. Charters get a percentage (less than 100%) to educate the kids under a contract with a district.

Districts get 100% to educate the kids. So I guess they too get a fee to educate students. But they get their buildings paid for.

Anonymous said...

You're not nearly cynical enough.

gus miller said...


In the long run you are better off not having PPS as a landlord.

Your quest for a sweeter real estate deal strengthens my belief that Common neighborhood public schools is the only way to deliver subsidized education.

Those who receive subsidies, whether public school administrators, charter school administratore or parents (vouchers) will eventually start crying that they need more money to do the task they took upon themselves.

The taxpayer should be providing "good enough" neighborhood common schools for all who wish to attend and let those who want Cadillac, religious or special focus schools pay for their other choices in the private sector.

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Derek's Mommy said...

Mr. Kremer,

I would like to know how an Arthur Academy could be started in the Hillsboro School District. My husband spoke with you about a year ago at Dorchester and you had told him you need parent support. Is an Arthur Academy in Hillsboro possible? What can I do to help?

I can be reached at

Thank You,