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Green New Deal Won’t Impact School Projects

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Green New Deal Won’t Impact School Projects
Posted on 12/08/2020
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The Longfellow, Reiche and Presumpscot elementary school renovation projects are exempt from the requirements of the Green New Deal approved by Portland voters in November, according to a review by Drummond Woodsum, the law firm that advises the Portland Public Schools.

One key reason is that renovations to Longfellow, Reiche and Presumpscot already had been submitted for substantive review prior to changes in the city’s Green Building Code taking effect on Dec. 6, according to the opinion from attorney Agnieszka A. Dixon. Also, the changes in the code don’t apply to projects where the fair market value of the property exceeds the cost of the proposed renovations, which is the case for the Reiche project, according to Dixon’s memorandum.

Tonight, on Tuesday, Dec. 8, the Portland Board of Public Education is scheduled to hold a first reading to authorize Superintendent Xavier Botana to proceed with developing design specifications and seek bids for the renovations of the Longfellow, Reiche and Presumpscot projects under the $64 million Building for our Future (BFOF) bond that city voters approved in 2017. The Lyseth project is about 75 percent complete and is on target for completion prior to the fall of 2021.

A Board workshop on the BFOF projects will follow the 6 p.m. business meeting. View the Board meeting agenda and packet and links to join on the district’s BoardDocs page.

“The Portland Public Schools is eager to move forward with these long-awaited projects, which prioritize building improvements that enhance education, while also being mindful of environmental concerns and fair labor practices,” Superintendent Xavier Botana said. “We will continue to implement Fair Contracting provisions, as we did with the Lyseth project. We also will continue to meet the LEED silver standards we had already planned to meet with these projects.”

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards are set by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The district has worked over the past year with representatives of the three school communities to complete the design specifications so that the three projects could go out to bid in December of 2020.  However, because it was unclear if the Green New Deal might alter the scope of the renovations, the design process was paused. As a result, the new proposed schedule staggers the bids in February, March and April, with construction beginning in June of 2021.

If the Board authorizes the projects to go to bid, they will be staggered over the spring, with the goal of contracting in time to break ground on all three projects this coming summer.

Instructions for Accessing the Board Meeting & Workshop Using Zoom:

Allow your computer to install the free Zoom app to get the best meeting experience. Participants can join by phone only, if they prefer. If you are not able to attend live, Portland Public Schools will be posting a recording of the meeting on its website and YouTube channel once it has concluded.

The meeting can be accessed via this link: https://zoom.us/j/95716748991?pwd=TzB2TGQwaVRDdFJaSWxlVnIrR2lZdz09
Passcode: 497744

Public comment will be taken. If you wish to offer public comment, you will need to use the "raise your hand" feature. To raise your hand via the telephone, please hit *9. You will be un-muted by the host when it is time for public comment.

Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 669 900 9128
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/u/adYyW6XhbS
Webinar ID: 957 1674 8991

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 60 languages. 52 percent of the district’s students are white and 48 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced school meals.