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First Meeting of School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee on July 25

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First Meeting of School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee July 25
Posted on 07/19/2016
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The new School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee will hold its first meeting on Monday, July 25. The meeting will run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The meeting will begin with an opportunity for public comment.

The City Council recently created the committee to study the proposed Buildings for Our Future Initiative, a $70.6 million bond proposal to pay for renovations at Presumpscot, Longfellow, Lyseth, and Reiche elementary schools. The committee’s members are: Portland Board of Public Education Chair Marnie Morrione; board members Stephanie Hatzenbuehler, Sarah Thompson and Anna Trevorrow; Mayor Ethan Strimling; and city councilors Nick Mavodones, David Brenerman and Justin Costa. Morrione and Strimling are co-chairs of the committee.

The council held a workshop with the committee on Monday, July 18. The workshop featured a presentation, which included a history of the more than 20 years of efforts to address deficiencies at the schools; a summary of the educational need for the school renovations; and an in-depth review of the initiative by architecture and engineering firm Oak Point Associates. City councilors then posed a series of questions and made requests for further information.

After the public comment period at its July 25 meeting, the School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee will discuss councilors’ questions and requests for information and start to address any questions posed by the public. The committee will then turn to such organizational tasks as scheduling upcoming committee meetings.

In June, the school board authorized Morrione to request that the council act on the proposed $70,593,229 million educational facilities rehabilitation bond and send it to Portland voters in November. Board members and parents say the renovations are necessary because the aged facilities are in urgent need of improvements to ensure that all district students have equal access to facilities that meet safety and compliance standards and their learning needs. After receiving Morrione’s request, the council on July 6 voted to create the School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee to review the proposal.

It is not clear whether the new committee’s work can be completed in time for the bond to go on the ballot in November. However, Morrione has stressed the intention to work “expeditiously to ensure we maintain momentum with this proposal and get it to the voters.”

The district has been studying for years how to transform five aged and deteriorating elementary schools in the district into 21st century centers for learning. One of those schools, Hall Elementary School, is eligible for state funding. Portland voters in April approved spending $29.7 million to build a new Hall school on the existing site. All but $1.4 million of the bonded amount will be reimbursed by the state.

For more information, visit the School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee page on the city’s website, www.portlandmaine.gov, or click here.