Portland to appeal Hall School rank on state building list

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PORTLAND — School officials plan to appeal the rank of the Fred P. Hall Elementary School on the state school construction list.

The state released a preliminary list of school construction priorities on March 9 and gave school districts 60 days to review the list and make formal appeals.

The Hall school at 23 Orono Road was ranked 12th out of about 70 schools.

In a press release Tuesday announcing the appeal, Superintendent James C. Morse Sr. said one Hall classroom cannot be used because of air quality.

“I fear that more rooms will become uninhabitable, until we lose use of the building completely,” Morse said.

This is the first time since 2004-2005 the state has prioritized schools for state-funded construction and renovation projects.

Department of Education spokesman David Connerty-Marin said it’s unclear how much funding, if any, will be available.

But some superintendents said they have been told that funding could be between $100 million and $120 million.

Morse has said he doesn’t expect many projects to be funded, since there are three high schools in the Top 10, some of which could cost more than $50 million.

“Given the large number of projects ahead of Hall on the list and limited state funding, it is likely to be several years before the project gets underway,” Morse said. “The school’s deteriorating condition cannot continue indefinitely.”

Connerty-Marin said 22 projects were funded in the last cycle, for which about $500 million in funding was available. One of those projects was the new Ocean Avenue Elementary School, which cost $14.2 million.

In addition to Hall, four other Portland Public Schools are on the latest list: Longfellow Elementary (18th), Howard C. Reiche Community School (21st), Presumpscot Elementary (33rd) and Lyseth Elementary (43rd).

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

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