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EFS Commission Makes Recommendation

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EFS Commission Makes Recommendation
Posted on 02/15/2019
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The Enrollment and Facility Study Commission – formed this past fall to identify and recommend possible cost-saving efficiencies to the Portland Board of Public Education – voted Feb. 14 to recommend one option, but “only if necessary” in the event of a  large budget shortfall. The option the Commission recommended would save $2.8 million by repurposing one middle school building, reconfiguring high schools and middle schools and creating room for pre-K in the elementary schools by taking 5th grade out of the elementary schools. The Commission rejected four other possible options, saying the savings could not justify the changes and disruption.

The recommendation for “Option 2” will be reviewed at a public hearing before the Commission, set for Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 6 p.m. at Casco Bay High School, located at 196 Allen Avenue. After the hearing, the Commission will finalize its recommendation prior to submitting it to the Board.

Option 2 would result in a one-time cost savings of $2.8 million. It is summarized in more detail below:

 ·      Portland High School or Deering would continue but with only grades 10 to 12

 ·      Portland or Deering high school building would be converted to a grade 7 to 9 junior high school

 ·      Casco Bay High School would remain as a stand-alone 9-12 high school in its current location.

 ·      Elementary schools would become pre-K to grade 4. Grade 5 would be removed (except on the islands)

 ·      Two of the middle schools would become upper elementary 5-6th grade schools

 ·      One of the current middle school buildings would close and be re-purposed in some form for Portland Adult Ed, K-12 Bayside Learning Community students, and Central Office administration

The Enrollment and Facility Study Commission – made up of board members, city councilors, district staff, and community members – has been working steadily since the fall to identify and recommend potential cost-saving efficiencies to the Board by the start of this year’s FY 2020 budget process.

The Board called for a study of the district’s enrollment and facilities after the challenging FY 2019 budget last spring. However, under the budget proposed by new Gov. Janet Mills, the FY20 budget picture does not look as bleak as feared. Preliminary figures released today show the district will receive a small increase in state funding rather than the large decreases that were initially projected. If the Legislature passes a budget with education funding levels on par with what the governor has proposed, Portland would not be facing a large shortfall and Option 2 may not be needed, the Commission said.