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Summer bond possible for S.P. school repairs

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Summer bond possible for S.P. school repairs

SOUTH PORTLAND — The School Board will meet Monday with the City Council to try to generate support for a June bond referendum to fund limited renovations to the high school and middle schools.
The effort comes two weeks after the district received a report from a visiting accreditation committee that cited the "ruinous effects" of the high school building, which opened in 1952.
The board is not expected, however, to pitch a bond to cover a complete renovation of the high school, an effort resoundingly defeated by voters in 2007. Even the revised full renovation could still cost more than $50 million.
Instead, the board will ask the council to support the first year of a five-year maintenance plan for the two schools. The borrowing could total $8.1 million, according to a school district memo to the City Council.
The district must address issues of health, safety and accessibility within five years to maintain a favorable accreditation, which is important for post-secondary school and job opportunities for high school graduates.
About $1.5 million in proposed upgrades to the high school include more than $871,000 for the electrical system, $400,000 in emergency lights and fire alarms, $190,000 for stairwells and $4,000 for dehumidification in the South Portland Auditorium.
With the exception of the auditorium work, similar upgrades at the two middle schools are expected to cost approximately $3.5 million, a figure that includes work on sprinklers and classroom walls at Memorial Middle School.
Also, more than $316,000 is being sought to build a bus loop and student drop-off area at Memorial, the site long considered for a consolidated middle school.
Another $2.3 million in security upgrades may be proposed at all three schools.
The district hopes to complete the renovations before the 2009-2010 school year starts in the fall.
Meanwhile, the board is leaving open the possibility of reconvening the Secondary Schools Facility Committee to develop a plan for a consolidated middle school and roll out of a revised full renovation plan for the high school. Both would depend on guidance form the School Board and City Council.
In drafting the proposed maintenance schedule, School Board members have aimed to make upgrades that they believe could be carried over to a total high school renovation or a consolidated middle school at Memorial's Wescott Road site.
"We're not giving up on the (full) renovation plan," Superintendent Suzanne Godin said.
School Board Chairwoman Stacy Gato and member Ralph Baxter, who led the SSFC, did not respond Wednesday to calls or e-mails seeking comment.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net
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