This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 17, 2010 7:15 AM. The previous post in this blog was Adams invents the internet. The next post in this blog is It doesn't take much. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Monday, May 17, 2010

When the music stops, find a seat

When Super Carole announced which Portland public high schools she wants to close -- Marshall and Benson, essentially -- the reaction was typical. All the neighborhoods whose schools were spared the ax suddenly stopped shouting out their protests and went back to living their lives as normal. Over here in Grant territory, for example, the "Close the Gap, Not the Schools" signs pretty much disappeared the next day. Once the victim is chosen, those who avoided death fall silent.

But the show ain't over until the fat condo developer sings, and now there's a new plan afoot. The school board, on its own initiative, is now talking about moving Benson to where Jefferson is now, and closing Jefferson. You can just see the real estate weasels drooling over that Benson building. Can you say "public-private partnership"?

For the backers of Jefferson, which until now had seemed untouchable, it's time to break out the Tums.

Comments (18)

I think the better solution is to break up the Portland Public School district into competing school districts with no limit on transfers. The best educators survive and the worst educators get the boot. Time to stop rearranging chairs on this mediocre, union work rule clogged system.

Once the Jeffer is replace by a Ben, Super Carole will unload the big pink thing and move galactic headquarters to the the Benless Son.

If the district cost for a super, in all its manifestations, were capped at twice the median private sector wage would this in and of itself change the character of our super?

If I get enough pay in three years time to live for a lifetime then I can do most anything that is asked of me.

No reason to close Jefferson. They can have the two schools under their one roof. It's been done before.

If the district cost for a super, in all its manifestations, were capped at twice the median private sector wage would this in and of itself change the character of our super?

Ok, good luck finding someone who's willing to be the super who is out-earned by every single principal in the district.

The grand re-design plan was so terrific it took all of a week to start changing it. So much for confidence in the bureaucratic cesspool that is PPS.


Are you suggesting Carol is overpaid, or that she's not worth what she is paid? The latter is definitely open for discussion. The former, well, it depends on what you mean by "private sector wage". Do you mean overall wages averaged among all workers, or the equivalent pay of a private-sector executive with the same amount of staff, assets, and budget Carol oversees?

I think you'll find superintendents are generally underpaid relative to executives running similar-sized organizations in the private sector. Especially given the added political headaches of the job and the immense responsibilities they take on for the welfare of children and the huge impact they have on the local economy and property values.

Assuming we retain public systems of education (which some will argue against), you're not going to get the best talent for such an important job by paying peanuts. Or you can, but you'll reap the mediocre results. There's this assumption out there -- wrong, in my opinion -- that talented educators and other do-gooders should work for next to nothing. And no, I'm neither a teacher or administrator nor married to one.

Maybe Carol's not worth the salary we pay her, and if you feel that way, you can tell your PPS Board member. Now, if you want to say PPS' administration overall is bloated and wasteful and stuffed with burned-out principals and teachers and young think-tankers with no teaching experience peddling the latest education flavor of the month, you'll get no argument from me.

If my name were Dr. Peter Kohler and I was offered 10 million dollars to assure that local folks were represented in a TPG takeover of PGE (at the behest of the teacher pension investment hounds) would I be full of something?

The transition from a focus on public service to that of self service occurs far below that threshold. Any pay for "public service" above twice the median private sector wage is suspect. Any pay that is thrice the median private sector wage should be conclusive.

Before you bash public service (or even volunteerism) too much you should apply your reasoning to the non-profit for-profit distinction. Are non-profits, inclusive of local government, inherently worthless in the absence of some sort of profit motive?

Some things are priceless, such as loyalty in a committed relationship. If you put a price on it then the nature of the arrangement becomes something entirely different. I do not believe that one can buy loyalty. But one can buy silence.

Sure, there's profiteering in the public sector as well as in the private, and I agree in the case of OHSU and Dr. Kohler the for-profit/nonprofit distinction is meaningless and his salary was over-the-top. But Dr. Kohler is an outlier compared to the vast majority of hard-working, fairly compensated nonprofit professionals. As for self-service versus public service, who among us isn't motivated by a complex mix of selfish and altruistic motives?

I wasn't bashing public service; just the opposite - I was saying that talented, passionate people working in services that we've defined by common history as part of the common good (and therefore not "worthless") deserve to be well-compensated.

And in any case, you still haven't defined what you mean by "private sector wage". I agree the average pay of a public sector peon shouldn't be too far out of line of her private-sector peers, but at the executive level it's a whole different ballgame.

Isn't the Benson High School property leased by PPS from the Benson Estate?

Ben and Jerry once applied a social engineering formula to executive wages. How'd that work out?

Jack has hit the nail on the head. Benson is prime condo weasel prey. Benson deeded to the schools a huge parcel including all the parking lots, track, tennis center and who knows what more. All of it is prime real estate for mega-development. I bet The Scone has been whispering sweet things in their ears.

We need an initiative petition in SD#! that no land can be transferred without a vote of the people.

Elected officials who line up to give away common public property like that donated by Benson need to be recalled. Kleptocracy rules in Portland 'til we get new leadership.

The Scone wants to replace Benson with a three-hundred-floor condo building. You heard it here first.

McMenanamins has been looking for a property in the neighborhood of Benson High...

a property in the neighborhood of Benson High

That would be the property across Irving Street from Benson, the quondam Ireland's at Lloyd's restaurant. It's a bank or a credit union these days, I think. The McMenamin boys would hardly know what to do with a whole high school that's downrange from the Lloyd Center shooting gallery.

One can look up this property on Portland Online - the school is valued (for the land) at 10 million plus, and is owned by the school district. The property to the south is owned by Portland Parks and Rec.

The old restaurant property is Point West Credit Union, the expanded Multnomah County employees' credit union. Really a nice old building. Probably not big enough to support 300 floors of condos ;)

Um....Drooling over Benson? Now why would that be?

There is another former high school of the same vintage as the Benson structure a mere eight blocks directly to the south. It has not been transformed into condos despite being basically empty and underutilized for more than a decade.

Wa-Mo High.

Benson is a slightly bigger site and has the associated track and field (is that PPS or PPR property?), but basically, it's the same deal.

I thought that the developer jackals wanted the Lincoln site?

And...hey...while we're at it, why haven't the condo predators snapped up the old Adams High/Whittaker Middle School site up?

The Terwilliger School property on SW Corbett in Johns Landing is another example of PPS willing to let developers apply condos.

John Gray (Salishan and Sunriver fame)several years ago proposed an extensive condo project on the site requiring the demolition of the school. The neighborhood fought it hard, providing studies to show that with present zoning of the neighborhood encouraging more housing=people=children and the coming SoWhat development, that PPS needed the asset for future student growth.

They almost ignored that input until the French School showed interest for leasing the property. That was the solution in this case and now the neighborhood enjoys the open space of the school, the beauty of the old 1920's school that educated so many Portlanders and the school is inventoried for PPS's future. But will PPS's future involve being a Development Company like PSU is headed?

Clicky Web Analytics