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School Board Votes to Proceed on Hall School Replacement

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School Board Votes to Proceed on Hall School Replacement
Posted on 06/17/2015
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The Portland Board of Public Education voted on June 16 to proceed with the steps necessary to construct a new building to replace Hall Elementary School as a state-funded school construction project based on an estimated enrollment of 525 students.

The vote, which was preceded by an opportunity for public comment, took place at the board's regular business meeting, held at Lyseth Elementary School. The vote was 8 to 1, with District 3 school board member Laurie Davis opposed. Three student representatives were present and they cast their non-binding votes with the majority of the board.

The next meeting of the Hall School Building Committee will take place on Wednesday, July 1, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the school, which is located at 23 Orono Road.

Aging Fred P. Hall Elementary School 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 Hall project’s architect, Oak Point Associates, 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.

“The board did not see these as viable options,” said school board Chair Sarah Thompson. “The board is committed to reviewing our remaining facilities and their needs, prioritizing those needs and working with the city to obtain CIP funding while taking into consideration the financial constraints we are currently under in Portland.”

The Hall School replacement project is expected to go out to Portland residents for a vote in 2016.

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