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Special Committee to Review Elementary School Bond Proposal

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Special Committee to Review Elementary School Bond Proposal
Posted on 07/07/2016
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At a special meeting on July 6, the Portland City Council voted to create a new committee to study a $70.6 million bond proposal to pay for renovations at Presumpscot, Longfellow, Lyseth, and Reiche elementary schools.

The Portland Board of Public Education on June 21 authorized board Chair Marnie 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 “Buildings for Our Future” bond is necessary because the aged facilities are in urgent need of improvements to ensure that all district students have access to facilities that meet safety and compliance standards and their learning needs.

“These improvements will have lasting effects on our children’s lives for decades to come. Academically great and safe neighborhood schools attract families and improve our local economy, making Portland an even more desirable city,” said Morrione, who is co-chair of the new School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee.

The committee is comprised of representatives from the council and school board. In addition to Morrione, the school board members are Stephanie Hatzenbuehler, Sarah Thompson and Anna Trevorrow. Mayor Ethan Strimling is the other co-chair and city councilors Nick Mavodones, David Brenerman and Justin Costa also are on the committee.

The committee will review the bond proposal after holding a workshop with the council on July 18. It will then refer the proposal, including any recommended changes, to the school board and then the council’s Finance Committee.

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 said, “The school board and district staff are committed to working 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.

The $70.6 million estimate to upgrade the four remaining schools, Presumpscot, Longfellow, Lyseth, and Reiche, comes from the latest Buildings for Our Future report from architecture and engineering firm Oak Point Associates. None of the schools has had significant improvements in the approximately half century since they were built.

For more information about the new School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee, click here.

You can also find more information about the elementary school bond proposal at the Buildings for Our Future quick link on the district website, www.portlandschools.org or by clicking here.