Others Talk, Julia Delivers!
In the past year, Julia has focused on helping the school district and its students and staff navigate safely through the COVID-19 pandemic, leading passage of the successful 2020 bond to make historic investments in our schools, and advocating for a school district focus on more equitable outcomes and additional supports for Black, Native, and students of color.
Julia is a strong advocate for all students to have access to equitable and enriching school days, including art, music, PE/adaptive PE, school counselors, career and technical education and Outdoor School, and additional investments to support historically underserved students.
During her tenure as Board Chair, Julia led the Board’s efforts to:
- Get Portland Public Schools (PPS) back on track, including the successful recruitment and hiring of Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero
- Open two middle schools (Harriet Tubman and Roseway Heights) so more than 1,000 students would have a more equitable middle-grades experience and successfully pushed for more funding for students in K-8s who had been experiencing fewer academic and enrichment options;
- Open on time and on budget three rebuilt schools: Roosevelt HS, Franklin HS, and Faubion K-8;
- Increase transparency and accountability by reinstating the internal performance audit function with the hiring of auditors, commissioning a bond performance auditor to examine the cost estimation errors in the 2017 bond, and supporting bond planning improvements;
- Oversee the planning for health/safety improvements in every school to address lead, asbestos, and radon;
- Review and approve the 2017 bond projects, including Kellogg MS, Leodis V. McDaniel HS, (formerly Madison HS), Lincoln HS, and Benson HS Masterplans and the Multiple Pathways to Graduation building; and
- Commission the investigation of the Whitehurst misconduct allegations, leading to a new conduct policy, focused on conduct expectations, student safety, and the retention of serious misconduct records.
As a School Board leader and community member, Julia led efforts resulting in significant investments in our schools, including:
- Chairing the voter-approved PPS 2020 School Bond to modernize and rebuild our schools, including rebuilding Jefferson high school, creating a center for Black Student Excellence, updating textbooks in all subjects, completing the Benson rebuild, building a Multiple Pathways to Graduation alternative school, and making the main floors in all schools ADA accessible;
- helping lead the successful effort to pass the 2019 Local Option, funding 900 teachers and classroom supports annually.
- Helping drive and pass the successful statewide initiative to fund Outdoor School for All
Other highlights of Julia’s work for schools and students:
- While serving on the PPS Board, Brim-Edwards started the “10 Great Fields” project, a community-funded effort to install a new synthetic turf field and premium track at every PPS high school so that student-athletes at all Portland high schools would have high-quality outdoor facilities. Over the past decade, ten tracks and fields were completed.
- Served as the interim Chair of the Coalition for School Funding Now!
- As a volunteer community leader, Brim-Edwards co-founded and built a citywide coalition of high school parents (The Parents Coalition) in 2013 to restore a full day of high school instruction for students by adding back teachers to all PPS high schools.
- Co-founded the Portland Interscholastic League (PIL) Foundation which supports equitable access to athletics for students across the district and supports student athletes.
- Working with the PIL Athletic Director, Brim-Edwards and other parents established and helped resource a new and equitable middle school sports program in PPS, which has resulted in thousands of middle school students having an opportunity to participate in sports at their middle schools or K-8s.
- As a youth sports advocate and volunteer, Brim-Edwards also co-founded the PIL Fan Base, a citywide parent coalition that restored funding for trainers, transportation, and coaches in Portland’s high schools. The lack of trainers and transportation created serious health and safety issues for student-athletes and led to inequities across the school district, as not all school communities could fundraise to pay for these basic elements.
Brim-Edwards served on the Portland School Board previously, from 2001–2005, where she helped lead the school district at a challenging time, including:
- Stabilizing district funding following the devastating effects of the recession in the early 2000s.
- Setting higher accountability standards by eliminating “golden parachutes” for senior central office administrators by creating a standard contracts policy for senior administrators that limited excessive payouts when senior administrators left PPS.
- Establishing the financial reserve policy, which built the district’s reserves and bolstered PPS’s ability to successfully manage through unstable economic periods.
- Focusing the district’s limited resources on the classroom by prioritizing classroom expenditures and establishing the district’s internal performance audit function.
- Rebuilding community support for PPS.
- Leading the successful community effort in the early 2000s to restore five weeks of school in danger of being lost due to state budget cuts. Portland would have had the shortest school year in the nation; Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” cartoon highlighted PPS’s shortened school year.