Construction of Brunswick's new elementary school ahead of schedule

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BRUNSWICK — With the construction of a new elementary school well ahead of schedule, the School Department is facing a host of new changes.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School on McKeen Street is slated to open in time for the 2011 school year.

Construction on the school has been moving briskly since starting last fall. Most of the main structure is framed, while nearby, a new, lighted athletic field is already sodded.

Jean Skorapa will be the principal at Harriet Beecher Stowe.

The new school has already led to the closing of Hawthorne Elementary School, which now serves as the School Department’s headquarters. Longfellow School is also slated to close at the end of the school year.

The fate of Longfellow is yet to be determined. However, Bowdoin College has expressed interest in the building. Several years ago the town briefly considered the building for a police station and municipal headquarters, but determined it was too far from downtown.

Once opened, the new elementary school is expected to serve 600 students in 30 classrooms in grades 3 through 5.

The School Board has considered new grade configurations at the other two elementary schools, Jordan Acres and Coffin. However, the configurations are largely dependent on renovations to the older schools, a distant likelihood given the state’s recent cutbacks in education aid. The cuts are expected to come this year, too.

According to Superintendent Paul Perzanoski, the funding crisis has resulted in minimal hiring and program additions.

Eleven teachers were recently selected by the School Board. Five of them are rehired retirees, a result of the new collective bargaining agreement between the district and the local teachers union, the Brunswick Education Association.

The rehires include Merrill Bean, a physical education teacher at Brunswick Junior High School; Craig Beaulieu and Charles Gordon, social studies teachers at Brunswick High School, and James O’Donnell and Elizabeth Van Orden, English teachers at BHS.

New teachers include Gwendolyn Christman, a technology teacher at the elementary schools; Sol Kennally, foreign language teacher at BHS; Erin J. Lowell, choral music teacher at BHS; Susan Perkins, physical science teacher at BHS; Millie Rhodes, mathematics at BHS, and Michael Scarpone, instrumental music at BHS.

Christy Bomba, formerly a full-time foreign language teacher at BHS, will become a part-time Spanish teacher at the high school.

On the programming side, BHS has added a Sophomore Academy to complement the Freshman Academy.

Monday, Aug. 30, is the first day of classes.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or