Here's the gist of why we say you should vote yes on the Portland Public Schools bond and levy, even though it's the most expensive set of tax hikes in Oregon history and will cause our rent to go up: Our schools are important and they're falling apart. The state isn't going to leap in to fix them up and we shouldn't make kids wait in dilapidated classrooms for the years it would take to write up a smaller bond. It does seem like Portland Public Schools pinned down a dollar amount that would stretch pro-school Portlanders as far as possible without causing them to revolt and vote "no", but we need to invest in our schools to keep Portland attractive to employers and families... as well as, you know, create smart and well-educated young people.
For people asking exactly where all these piles of money are going to go, here's a chart (pdf) of which schools are going to get which improvements.
We didn't endorse in the school board race, but we recommend you check out the League of Women Voters election guide while filling out your ballot—their quick interviews with candidates should help you decide.