Portland's major school repairs won't be done before classes start

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PORTLAND — Construction projects at some city schools are wrapping up, although others are likely to continue into the school year.

Craig Worth, executive director of operations for the Portland Public Schools, said projects at the Howard C. Reiche Community School, Lincoln Middle School and the Peaks Island Elementary School may still be in progress in September.

Worth said an elevator at Reiche probably won’t be installed until October. He said crews installing the elevator will work around the hours school is open to prevent classroom disruptions.

City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau said the entrance to Reiche on Clark Street has been brought up to grade, and a new secured entryway separating the school from the community center will go up. He said most of the work would be done by the time students return Aug. 31.

“There might be some additional work that may have to carry over. I know the city has been really working hard to try to get this thing done. Our investment in the schools show what our priorities are in a community,” Thibodeau said.

Worth said roof repairs and constructing entrance ramps are continuing after a concrete ramp on the Clark Street side of the school was removed for safety reasons in February. 

“They will have the structural work done before the start of school,” he said.

The total cost of repairs at Reiche was around $800,000.

Thibodeau said some improvements to pedestrian crossings have also been made, following concerns voiced by parents of Reiche students.

“Those improvements to me are just as important (as the facilities improvements),” Thibodeau said.

Those improvements include two crossings on Brackett Street, with lights to alert drivers that it is a school zone. The crossings will be marked with a more durable paint and won’t have to be repainted annually. Thibodeau also said the city will repaint the Clark Street crossing.

Significant work is also continuing at Lincoln Middle School, most of it related to masonry. The School Department allotted $250,000 for the work in the 2017, although a bid for $186,000 from Tito Masonry of Portland was approved March 10. Work began in June, and the company has until Sept. 2 to finish.

Worth said a large number of bricks were “failing” and would be replaced as needed.

Peaks Island Elementary School is also undergoing major masonry work, which Worth said would be completed by Labor Day. This work includes waterproofing all the brickwork, as well as repairing a cracked chimney.

The school’s boiler also needs to be replaced. Worth said the project has not yet been awarded to a contractor. All told, the work at Peaks is estimated to cost $500,000.

Worth also said the fire alarm system in Portland High School will be replaced before school starts at a cost of just under $127,000. The project was was approved for $150,000 last year, but was delayed.

The first day of school is Aug. 31 for students in grades 1-12; pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children start the day after Labor Day, Sept. 6.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

A reconstructed entrance on Clark Street is one part of a series of facilities improvements being made at Portland’s Howard C. Reiche Community School.

A large masonry project continues at Lincoln Middle School on Stevens Avenue in Portland.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.