For the past few days I have been sifting through hundreds of visionPDX comments on school funding. You may recall that I am one of 30 or so volunteers reviewing written responses to 13,000 questionnaires completed in the summer.
My assigned areas are higher education, educational opportunity and school funding.
Virtually all of the respondents want stable, reliable, adequate funding for Portland's schools. They are weary of putting Band-aids on the problem. A few call for a more accountable school board.
Well and good.
But virtually none of the comments call for consolidating city and school governance. Without such consolidation, comments about the schools that are addressed to the city fall on deaf ears. The City is quite separate from, and often at odds with, the Portland school district.
The same disconnect is true of comments about social services and the library. Those are responsibilities of Multnomah County, yet another autonomous government. More consolidation is needed for "county issues" to be brought into the City's purview.
And yet all these issues should be of huge concern to the city as a whole, as many respondents point out. Many note that the very future of the city is dependent on an educated citizenry. Without first-rate schools, families will flee to the suburbs. Many already are.
In effect, Portland must get its governments under one roof, one large enough to combine the City, the schools, the County, and, yes TriMet and, to some extent, Metro.
Logically consolidation of governments should be a recommendation of the Mayor's charter review commission. Unfortunately the commission is blindly proceeding with its work without paying attention to the needs, stated or implied, by visionPDX respondents.
Clearly, the mayor, who inspired these laudable initiatives, desperately needs to get everyone on the same page.