Buildings for Our Future
Referendum on Elementary School Building Project Delayed Until 2014
On July 25, the Portland City Council’s Finance Committee deferred action on a request by the Portland Board of Public Education to hold a November 2013 referendum on $39.9 million in improvements to three Portland elementary schools - Lyseth, Reiche and Presumpscot.
Instead, the city’s Finance Committee voted 3-0 to recommend a June 2014 referendum on those projects. The state is expected to provide funding for rebuilding Hall Elementary School and probably for renovations at Longfellow Elementary School, too. A June 2014 referendum may also be able to include one or both of these important projects, should the state announce their funding decision by that time.
Councilors on the Finance Committee said they wanted to be certain the state would fund Hall and Longfellow before a referendum on the three other elementary schools is sent out to Portland voters. Of the five schools, Hall is the only one slated for demolition and rebuilding. Councilors also expressed support for considering the elementary school improvements as a package.
Board Adopts Plan to Manage OAES Enrollment
The Portland Board of Public Education voted on June 25 to approve a plan for managing enrollment at Ocean Avenue Elementary School (OAES) during the 2013-2014 school year. The plan moves some kindergartners from OAES to East End Community School and Hall Elementary School while ensuring that siblings can attend the same school. Read more.
School Board Requests Referendum for Elementary Building Improvements
The Portland Board of Public Education voted unanimously on June 11 to request that the Portland City Council hold a November referendum to seek voter approval for elementary school improvements.
The referendum would ask voters to pay $39.9 million in local funds to renovate and expand Lyseth Elementary School, Presumpscot Elementary School and Reiche Elementary School.
The school district also plans to replace Hall Elementary School, at a cost of $20.6 million, and to renovate Longfellow Elementary School, at a cost of $11.2 million. Both of those schools are on a list of potential state-funded projects. State officials have indicated that Hall is likely to be funded, though the timing is uncertain. The state historically has funded an average of 20 projects per funding cycle; Hall is 12th on the list and Longfellow is 18th. Read more.
Public Invited to Review Preliminary Concept Plans for Portland’s Elementary School Improvements
Oak Point Associates will present its preliminary concept plans for five Portland elementary school buildings at a public forum with the Portland Board of Public Education on May 14 at 7 p.m. in Room 250 of Casco Bay High School.
The consulting firm was hired by the district to develop preliminary concept building and site plans, proposed construction schedules and estimated costs for replacing Hall School and improving Longfellow, Lyseth, Presumpscot and Reiche schools as part of the Buildings for Our Future project.
At the May 14th forum, the public will have an opportunity to ask questions and respond to the proposals. Board members also will ask questions but they will hold off on deliberations until a future meeting. Read more.
Forums Present Concept Designs for Elementary School Improvements
The Portland Public Schools held neighborhood forums in March and early April to share concept designs for improving five elementary school buildings: Hall, Longfellow, Lyseth, Presumpscot and Reiche.
At each forum, the public had an opportunity to review two or three concept designs, ask questions and give input to Oak Point Associates, the consulting firm hired by the district to develop plans for the building projects.
All of the meetings were taped by TV3. They are available on demand under the title "Buildings for Our Future."
Task Force Will Review Elementary Schools’ Enrollment, Boundaries
The Portland Board of Public Education voted at its January 15th business meeting to create a task force to provide a consistent source of feedback on options for adjusting elementary school boundaries to address enrollment trends and proposed improvements to several of the elementary school buildings.
Those interested in serving on the task force are invited to apply by noon on January 25th. They should submit a letter with their name, address, phone number, a brief description of why they want to participate, the name of the elementary school(s) attended by their children (if relevant) and whether or not their children are eligible for busing (if relevant). Letters should be sent to Janet Dibiase, executive secretary in the Portland Public Schools’ operations office, at dibiajportlandschools [dot] org or 196 Allen Avenue, Portland, Maine 04103.
The task force will work with Oak Point Associates, the consulting firm hired by the district to develop plans for building improvements at Hall, Presumpscot, Lyseth, Reiche and Longfellow elementary schools. Oak Point Associates will be evaluating capacity issues at these and other elementary schools. Approximately five task force meetings, lasting up to two hours each, are anticipated during the winter and spring.
Task force members will review data such as enrollment trends, student demographics, current district boundaries, out-of-neighborhood school attendance, walking distances and bus travel times. They also will review the completed and planned improvements to the district’s elementary schools.
The task force will give feedback on proposed options for any short-term elementary school enrollment trends that need to be addressed by the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year. Members also will share their ideas about how to address long-term enrollment trends and the phasing of construction for elementary school improvements.
Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk will appoint up to 20 people to the task force. The membership will include:
- People living in each of the district’s mainland elementary school neighborhoods.
- Families with students who receive school bus transportation and those who are not eligible for bus transportation to their assigned schools.
- Families with children who have not yet attended Portland Public Schools.Residents who do not have students in the district.
All members of the public will have several opportunities to review and comment on school capacity issues and options. Find out more about the Buildings for Our Future project and upcoming meetings.
Public Invited to Share Ideas for Elementary School Building Improvements
The Portland Public Schools invites the public to participate in five neighborhood design charrettes during January to share ideas for improving the city’s elementary school buildings. The schedule is:
- January 3, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Longfellow Elementary School gym, 432 Stevens Avenue.
- January 10, 6 - 8 p.m., Reiche Community School community space, 166 Brackett Street.
- January 15, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Lyseth Elementary School gym, 175 Auburn Street.
- January 17, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Hall Elementary School gym, 23 Orono Road.
- January 31, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Presumpscot Elementary School gym, 69 Presumpscot Street.
The meetings will be hosted by Oak Point Associates, the consulting firm hired by the district to develop plans for building improvements at the five schools. At each charrette, the firm’s staff will give an overview of the Buildings for Our Future project.
Then, participants will have an opportunity to ask questions, share their ideas and join small group discussions focusing on issues of interest. Topics will include:
- What are your hopes and dreams for our city and its school system?
- What types of facilities are needed to educate Portland’s future leaders?
- How can the buildings better serve both the school district and the city’s neighborhoods?
- What works well in the current buildings and what improvements would you suggest?
Residents, business owners and other members of the community are invited to participate in this historic opportunity to help plan the next generation of Portland elementary schools.
Oak Point Associates will draw on the public input when creating preliminary building and site plans, construction schedules and estimated costs for replacing Hall and improving Presumpscot, Lyseth, Reiche and Longfellow. As part of the Buildings for Our Future project, the firm also will evaluate opportunities to balance student numbers across the district in order to address chronic overcrowding at several schools based on their current designs.
The Portland City Council provided $700,000 for initial planning of the elementary building improvements as part of this year’s Capital Improvement Plan. A tentative schedule calls for the initial design work to be completed by June 2013. The Portland Board of Public Education and the Portland City Council will decide on a final list of elementary construction projects that could total about $46 million. Funding for the projects is planned to go before voters in a November 2013 city referendum.
District Hires Firm for Elementary School Building Projects
The Portland Public Schools has hired Oak Point Associates, an architectural and engineering firm based in Biddeford, to help plan for replacing Hall Elementary School and renovating or expanding four other elementary schools.
The firm will create preliminary site plans, construction schedules and estimated costs for projects at Hall, Presumpscot, Lyseth, Reiche and Longfellow elementary schools. Oak Point Associates will also evaluate opportunities to balance student numbers across the district, to address chronic overcrowding at several schools based on their current designs. The public will be invited to participate in every stage of the project, from initial design sessions to a review of options for each school.
“While Portland’s newest elementary schools are state-of-the-art facilities, we also have older buildings where students and teachers must contend with noisy mechanical equipment, modular classrooms, leaking roofs and inadequate space for many educational activities,” said Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. “Our goal is to ensure equity across the district, providing all students, families, staff and communities with access to great schools where 21st century learning can thrive.”
Portland Mayor Michael Brennan said, “The Portland City Council recognizes the importance of addressing longstanding needs in our elementary buildings and completing the work as quickly as possible. Improving our elementary schools will help attract young families and businesses to our city. That is critical to Portland’s economic future.”
The Portland City Council unanimously approved $3 million for school projects in this year’s Capital Improvement Plan, including money for elementary school technology and $700,000 for initial planning of the elementary building improvements. Oak Point Associates was chosen from among four firms applying for the contract.
A tentative schedule calls for the initial design work to be completed by June 2013. The Portland Board of Public Education and the Portland City Council will decide on a final list of elementary construction projects that could total about $46 million. Funding for the projects is planned to go before voters in a November 2013 city referendum.
During the past 15 years, the school district has conducted several studies that have identified deficiencies in its school buildings. The board commissioned a report in 2008 to specifically look at physical space from an educational programming (or functional quality) point of view rather than an architectural-engineering view. The report set the stage to determine what improvements were needed programmatically in order to achieve equity across the district. It served as the foundation for the 2010 Elementary School Capital Needs Task Force study, which identified elements needed in all elementary schools in order to provide equity.
Elementary building improvements have taken place in phases in order to lessen the impact on taxpayers and disruptions to teaching and learning. East End Community School was completed in 2006, making it the district’s first new school in more than 30 years. The district renovated and added to Riverton Elementary School in 2007, and the new Ocean Avenue Elementary School opened in 2011.
State funding covered most of the cost of the East End Community School and Ocean Avenue Elementary School projects. State aid is unlikely for the latest round of improvements, even though Hall School ranked 12th in a list of Maine school buildings that need to be replaced.
“We now have an opportunity to complete the work remaining to rebuild our mainland elementary schools,” said Kate Snyder, chair of the Portland Board of Public Education. “The recent fire at Hall School and lack of expansion space at other elementary schools underscore the importance of addressing our building needs. We encourage all Portland residents to get involved in planning much needed improvements at our elementary schools.”