To: Chair Eglinton and Members of the School Committee
Cc: Jeanne Whynot-Vickers
From: Jaimey Caron, Chair, Facilities Task Force
RE: Submission of the report of the Facilities task force to the school committee
The Comprehensive Facilities Use and Maintenance Task Force (FTF) is pleased to submit the attached report of our findings regarding the educational facilities needs of the Portland Public School (PPS). The report is a result if a nearly year long process.
The FTF was established by the Portland School Committee in June, 2008. In developing the report, the FTF held 18 meetings and visited all of the buildings under the control of the district with the exception of the island schools. The FTF was assisted in this effort by the New England School Development Council (NESDEC) and members of the PPS Central Office Team.
At our final public hearing on May 11, 2009 the FTF voted [LATER] to recommend adoption of the report. The purpose of this memo is to request the School Committee to adopt the report as part of its overall educational plan and to communicate with the School Committee our opinion of the necessary next steps in implementing elements of the plan.
Recommendations for Next Steps in Facilities Planning
During our deliberations, the FTF determined that the necessary next steps in pursuing opportunities identified in the report falls into two categories. The first category involves certain planning activities required to guide decision making in the area of facilities such that they support the educational goals of the district and to provide the resources necessary to implement the decisions. They include:
Comprehensive Educational Planning – The FTF recognized early that comprehensive educational planning is an essential component of long range facilities planning. Educational needs determine the kind of physical environment best suited to support learning. As part of our enrollment evaluation, we recognized the shifting demographic profile of our students and the corresponding shift in educational programming needs. Coupled with the evolution of state and federal mandates over the last three decades, the schools of today look markedly different than the schools many of us remember from our own experience. The pace of change (demographic, legislative, technological, etc.) presents a significant challenge to the district in adapting structures built decades ago to current, let alone future, needs. Educational planning must inform the required shift in facilities needs. To that end, we are aware of the School Committee’s commitment to developing a Comprehensive Educational Plan for the district and recommend that this effort be commenced within the next academic year to fully realize the opportunities identified in the report.
Budgeting – The FTF reviewed the annual budget associated with
building maintenance and capital improvements as well as funds available to
support professional architectural and engineering consulting services. We also reviewed the current list of projects
waiting to be included in the City’s annual Capital Improvement Program (CIP)
funding which currently total in excess of $45 million. Industry best practices in building
maintenance suggest that capital and long-term maintenance funding should be
approximately 2% of the replacement costs of the buildings annually. This equates to approximately $5 million in
Coordination with the City of
The second area involves specific facilities planning activities required to capitalize on opportunities identified within the report. They include:
Stand Alone Programs and Services: The FTF identified several stand alone program or
services that are located in buildings that do not efficiently meet the district’s
needs from both an operational and economical viewpoint. They include the central kitchen operation,
Adult Education, the
Central Kitchen – Located in the former
Adult Education – The district’s Adult Education
programming is located in several buildings including West and Baxter. In anticipation of construction of the new
Day Treatment – Located at West, the day treatment program is highly regarded for the work it does but is limited in its ability to attract out of district students because of the condition of the building. Located on a former landfill, the building has undergone a number of projects to mitigate the negative effects of the site upon which it is located. Because of the district’s size and demographics, PPS is able to provide these services within the district thereby saving out of district placement costs in private institutions. If needed improvements are made, this facility could well attract out of district clients. The added revenue generated by the increased enrollment are a source of funding for the needed improvements as well as benefiting the program and its participants. As with the Adult Education program, a long-term solution for housing this program is a priority given the needs of the community and the opportunity to generate offsetting revenues to address the program’s space needs.
The FTF recommends that the district move immediately into the next phase of evaluating the options identified in the report to address the needs of these stand alone programs. Specifically, the FTF recommends the district retain the services of a professional consultant to determine the costs of the various options outlined in the report. The consultants would determine the construction costs for various options and the impact on operating costs. The consultant would also address the potential for funding streams to offset debt service associated with relocating the programs including the resale value of the existing buildings and real estate in the event the current facility is vacated. The results of this analysis would prepare the district to include funding in the FY11 budget to implement any required changes.
Equity in Elementary Programming – PPS anticipates breaking ground later this year on
the construction of a new elementary school on
Phase 1 - The FTF recommends the district move forward
to address inequities for students at two additional elementary schools –
Lyseth and Presumpscot - in the next 6 to 12 months. Both of these facilities use modular
classrooms to meet programming needs and lack critical support space found in
the other schools. The timing of
improvements or changes to these facilities would coincide with the opening of
Phase 2 – Upon completion of Phase 1, the FTF recommends the district move immediately into addressing the inequities found in the remaining elementary schools. The FTF recognize two specific issues will determine how the district moves to complete the modernization of its elementary facilities:
source of available funding, particularly at the state level, will determine
the extent to which improvements can be made.
When the state makes funds available for capital projects, the district
routinely submits its facilities for consideration. During
the last two rounds of state funding,
and demographic information contained in the report coupled with the opening of
Oversight of facilities issues
Having completed the most recent of many facilities plans over the years, the Task Force recognizes that missing from the process of long range facilities planning is an ongoing oversight structure within city government to manage the district’s physical assets.
The FTF recommends that the School Committee and the City Council explore ways to more collaboratively oversee the maintenance and capital improvements of the City’s built environment. The development and funding of capital projects, the maintenance of our buildings (including maintenance and custodial support staff) and the implementation and periodic update of the City’s facilities plans are a shared responsibility. The FTF is aware of the commitments made by each body in the Sustainable Education Plan and encourage the bodies to fast-track resolution to the many areas related to facilities management contained in the plan.
To address specific near term opportunities identified in the report, the FTF recommends the creation of steering committees comprised of School Committee and interested members of the community, with the support of staff and professional consultants, as needed in order to fully explore and adequately address the unique requirements of the programs or services under evaluation.
The FTF would like to thank Interim Superintendent Jeanne Whynot Vickers, Facilities Director Doug Sherwood, Business Manager Herb Hopkins and Assistant City Manager Anita LaChance for the many hours of hard work in support of our effort. We also recognize the work of Don Kennedy and his staff at NESDEC for the thorough and professional manner in which the report was compiled. Lastly, we would like to thank the School Committee for the foresight and guidance provided throughout this process. With our work complete, we look forward to assisting the School Committee as it works to adopt the report.