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School Board to Vote on Hall School Plan June 16

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School Board to Vote on Hall School Plan June 16
Posted on 06/09/2015
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The Portland Board of Public Education plans to take a vote at its next business meeting Tuesday, June 16, on the next steps in the planning process for replacing Hall Elementary School. There will be an opportunity for public comment prior to the vote. The board’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Lyseth Elementary School.

The board held a workshop on June 2 at which it received updated information on Hall from the project’s architect, Oak Point Associates.

No official vote was taken, as it was a workshop. However, school board Chair Sarah Thompson said, “Based on the conversation at the workshop, it appears most of the board is leaning toward proceeding with Hall as planned and restarting the Hall School Building Committee in July.”

Aging Fred P. Hall Elementary School, located at 23 Orono Road, is eligible to receive state funding. The City Council has appointed a building committee to oversee the design and construction of a replacement school, estimated to cost about $20 million. The committee has been working through the 21-step process that the Maine Department of Education requires for review and approval of state-funded school construction projects. As is required by the state, the school district had to do a regional analysis that plans comprehensively for the best long-term solution.

Because Longfellow Elementary School also has significant facilities needs and is in proximity to Hall, the state recommended that Portland consider building a consolidated school to meet the needs of both Hall and Longfellow. Longfellow is currently on a waiting list for state funding.

However, the report from the architect indicated that building a larger, consolidated school on either the Longfellow site or the Hall School site would cause major disruptions in those neighborhoods. Also, at the small Longfellow site, the parking lot there would have to be used to build a larger, new school. That would necessitate the taking of nearby Deering High School’s sports fields to make up for those lost parking spaces.

Thompson said most board members considered those options unfeasible, which is why the board appears to be leaning toward the original plan of replacing Hall. If that plan continues to move forward, it would go out to Portland residents for a vote in 2016.

To read the architect’s presentation, click here. For more information on the building committee, click on the Hall School Building Committee “Quick Link” on the district’s website, www.portlandschools.org.