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Joint Finance Committee CIP Workshop is May 28

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Joint Finance Committee CIP Workshop is May 28
Posted on 05/18/2015

The finance committees of the Portland Board of Public Education and the City Council will hold a joint workshop meeting on Thursday, May 28, to discuss the city’s capital improvements budget (CIP). Part of the discussion will focus on how to address the significant facility needs of Portland’s public schools, including its elementary schools, in the CIP budget.

The workshop will be held at City Hall and will begin at 6 p.m.

A CIP budget is a way for the city to plan for financing capital projects and major equipment purchases over a period of years. The City Council will take a vote to approve a CIP budget at a later date, with an opportunity for public comment included in that process.

The Portland Public Schools submitted a five-year CIP request to the city in January. Projects listed as needs in the first year of that proposal include the replacement of the fire alarm system at Portland High School, the replacement of a boiler at Riverton Elementary School and the purchase of a new school bus.

Other district capital improvement needs include an upgrade to Casco Bay High School and renovation, upkeep and improvement needs at the city’s other high schools and middle schools.

The city’s elementary schools also have a number of outstanding needs.

The Portland Public Schools has conducted several studies during a period of more than 15 years to identify deficiencies in the district’s elementary schools that detract from student learning. Improvements have been made in phases in order to lessen the impact on taxpayers and disruptions to teaching and learning.

During the past 10 years, the district built two new schools with the help of the state – East End Community School (2006) and Ocean Avenue Elementary School (2011) – and had strong local support to renovate and expand Riverton Elementary School (2007).

In 2012, the district launched Buildings for Our Future to address significant needs at the five remaining mainland elementary schools (Hall, Longfellow, Reiche, Presumpscot and Lyseth).  The goal is to ensure that all elementary school students attend schools with safe environments designed for academic excellence and 21st century learning.

The district hired Oak Point Associates to develop preliminary concept plans, construction schedules and estimated costs for the five schools.

In 2014, Portland received notification that Hall Elementary School is eligible to receive state funding for replacement. The City Council has appointed a building committee to oversee design and construction, and the committee is working through the 21-step process that the Maine Department of Education requires for review and approval of such state-funded school construction projects. The process requires the district do a regional analysis and plan comprehensively for the best long-term solution to its school needs.

Local budget support will be needed to address the needs of the other elementary schools.

“Our Building for Our Future plan affirms our community’s commitment to equity across our schools,” said Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. “We look forward to working with the City Council’s finance committee to develop a fair and reasonable funding recommendation to address the significant safety and learning needs at our elementary schools and also our capital improvement needs districtwide.”