Portland seeks input on school renovation plans

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PORTLAND — Beginning this week and continuing through January, the School Department and its architecture and engineering consultants will hold a series of public charrettes to discuss ideas for improving the city’s elementary school buildings.

At each of the charrettes, Oak Point Associates will share an overview of project goals. After participants have the opportunity to ask questions, the consultants will share their ideas and join in discussions on their ideas for school renovations.

Discussion topics will include hopes and dreams for the district; what facilities are needed to educate Portland’s future leaders; how the buildings can serve both the school community and the city’s neighborhoods, and what works well in the current buildings and suggested improvements.

From these discussions, Oak Point will create site plans, construction schedules and estimated costs for replacing Hall Elementary School and renovating Presumscot, Lyseth, Reiche and Longfellow schools.

In addition to making plans for improving schools, the firm will evaluate opportunities to balance student numbers across the district to remedy overcrowding at city schools.

The project will be funded by $700,000 provided by the City Council in the Capital Improvement Plan. Initial design work is scheduled to be completed by June 2013.

After plans are completed, the School Board and City Council will determine the final list of elementary school projects. Costs are expected to be as much as $46 million, and will go before voters in a November 2013 city referendum.

Here is the schedule of charrettes:

• Friday, Jan. 4, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Longfellow Elementary School gym, 432 Stevens Ave.

• Thursday, Jan. 10, 6-8 p.m., Reiche Community School community space, 166 Brackett St.

• Tuesday, Jan. 15, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Lyseth Elementary School gym, 175 Auburn St.

• Thursday, Jan. 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Hall Elementary School gym, 23 Orono Road.

• Thursday, Jan. 31, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Presumpscot Elementary School gym, 60 Presumpscot St.

Amber Cronin can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.