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Most PPS buildings have lead paint somewhere, facilities director says

As the fury over tainted water supplies dies down, Portland Public Schools board member Steve Buel says he doesnt want the district to forget about lead paint dangers.

Facilities and Asset Management Senior Director David Hobbs says it could cost about $870,000 to remediate the 20 worst sites for lead paint in PPS. Hobbs says most of the districts buildings are older than the 1978 ban on lead paint.

Yes, from the age of our buildings, we do have lead paint in our buildings, Hobbs told the school board, June 21.

So, how many buildings you think we got lead paint in? Buel asked Hobbs.

They are doing that assessment as we speak, board chair Tom Koehler responded.

The district spends $125,000 annually on lead paint abatement, according to Hobbs. They have also received a $50,000 grant for the last several years from the Portland Water Bureau for lead paint abatement.

The schools covered by this years grant will be: Applegate, Chief Joseph, Duniway, Irvington, Sacajawea, and Whitman.

Buel said he was disturbed that this wasnt a higher budget priority.

Maybe we need to go borrow a million dollars, he said. But we should be taking care of these particular sites. Theyre just too important to not do.

In order to borrow money, the school district would need voters to approve a construction bond. As reported by Willamette Week, Hobbs said the total cost to repair all the environmental dangers including asbestos, lead, seismic upgrades, radon, etc. at PPS tops $400 million.

No one knows if theres lead paint in MESD buildings

The agencies in charge of three older school sites for children with disabilities and other special needs say they do not have any lead paint test results on file.

Multnomah Education Service District says it does not have any lead paint test results for any of its six school sites, but three were built after the 1978 lead paint ban.

Parkrose School District, which leases two schools to MESD, has a 15-year-old program to paint over any peeling paint, but has not tested for lead paint in that time. Albertina Kerr, which leases the Wynne Watts school to MESD, did not have any paint test results. The lead tests on its water came back below federal action levels.


Shasta Kearns Moore
Reporter