SAN FRANCISCO — Portland school district voters last week narrowly rejected a $548 million school construction bond measure — the biggest-ever attempted by a local government in Oregon.

The heavily promoted measure lost by a margin of 50% to 49% on Tuesday during a special election, according to unofficial results from the Multnomah County Elections Department.

“Election results regionwide demonstrate that it is difficult to seek increased community investment,” district superintendent Carole Smith said in a statement Wednesday.

The Portland Public Schools’ measure would have funded a six-year program to rebuild and fix schools that were mostly built in the first half of the last century.

To pay for the bonds, the measure would have raised property taxes by $2 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value.

Proponents, including construction firms and labor unions, spent $1.1 million to promote the measure, according to the Oregonian newspaper.

The referendum was the largest ever attempted by an Oregon municipality, the newspaper said.

District voters did pass a separate property tax measure to fund school operations, saving 200 teaching positions, according to PPS.

Last November, residents in Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties rejected the largest of the bond measures on the ballot, a $125 million proposal from TriMet, the public transit agency in the Portland metropolitan area.

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