Brunswick celebrates start of construction of Kate Furbish Elementary School

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BRUNSWICK — School and town officials, legislators, and members of the community said goodbye to Jordan Acres Elementary School on Wednesday.

They also ushered in the era of Kate Furbish Elementary School. 

Superintendent of Schools Paul Perzanoski gave the opening remarks at a groundbreaking for the new school Oct. 10. The 70,900-square-foot building on Jordan Avenue is scheduled to open in fall 2020, and will house 660 students in pre-K through second grade.

In addition to replacing Jordan Acres, which was closed in 2011, Furbish will also replace the aging, at-capacity Coffin Elementary School. 

Town Manager John Eldridge, Town Council Chairman John Perrault, School Board Chairwoman Joy Prescott, and Building Committee Chairwoman and School Board member Sarah Singer addressed the crowd Wednesday.

Democratic state Reps. Joyce McCreight, D-Harpswell, and Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, also spoke during the ceremony.

Dozens of kindergartners, who will be the first group of students to benefit from the new school when they enter as second-graders, were also in attendance wearing white hard hats.

Perzanoski said the speakers were all people who were “instrumental in traveling the journey” to build the new school, for which voters approved $28 million in borrowing in June 2017. 

In August, the School Board awarded South Portland-based Ledgewood Construction a contract to build the new school for just less than $20.3 million.

Following the speeches, attendees also held a celebration of Jordan Acres. It featured a poem written by a staff member for the school’s 10th anniversary in 1982, a rendition of the school song, and an apple cider toast.

Singer noted the seven-year process it took to get to the groundbreaking and thanked the building committee, school administrators and Lyndon Keck and Matt Pitzer of PDT Architects for their help along the way.

Singer also outlined the amenities the new building will have, which include two small wings that will share a central floor and include a library, special education services, cafeteria, gymnasium, and space for music and art classes.

“We believe this will allow students to have the experience of a smaller school with the efficiencies of a larger school,” Singer said.

The new school is named for Catherine “Kate” Furbish, a 19th-century botanist known for her accurate sketches of flora and fauna. 

During his remarks, Eldridge said two important goals of the school department for years have been to establish a pre-kindergarten program and “finally eliminate portable classrooms.” Both will be accomplished with the new school.

Daughtry, an alumna of Jordan Acres, was one of the speakers who talked about her love for the former school. She said her time there shaped the person and state representative she is today.

“I’m a testament to how important our elementary schools are,” she said. “I’m also so excited to be here to see Kate Furbish Elementary School take its next steps, and see how much our community is committed to education.”

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or eclemente@theforecaster.net. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente

White-helmeted Brunswick kindergarten students, who will be part of the first class to attend Kate Furbish Elementary School, listen as Superintendent of Schools Paul Perzanoski makes remarks at the school groundbreaking Oct. 10.

A groundbreaking for Kate Furbish Elementary School, which will open in 2020 and replace Coffin Elementary School, was held Oct. 10 at the former Jordan Acres Elementary School. 

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