South Portland buys $65K portable classroom for Small School

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Less than two months after the School Board first took up the matter of overcrowding at Small Elementary School, the city has OK’d the purchase a two-classroom portable building for next school year.

Just an hour after the board accepted the bid, city councilors approved purchasing a reconditioned portable, which will hold two kindergarten classrooms, from Schiavi Leasing Corp. of Oxford for about $65,000.

The bid was one of only three submitted, and the only one that met the School Board’s criteria.

Projections indicate Small School will have about 60 incoming kindergarten students next year, pushing the school’s capacity to the limit. Principal Bonnie Hicks said in May that every classroom is full, including a science lab that had been converted to make more space.

“We anticipate an enrollment that will need that classroom for at least three of the next five years,” Superintendent of Schools Suzanne Godin said. “We are cautiously hopeful that the enrollment will turn and that four years from now we could use the portable as one of the potential classrooms for the high school.”

The superintendent and School Board had considered redistricting or asking parents to voluntarily send their children to other schools, but those options were rejected as unrealistic, Godin said.

They also considered increasing class size, but accomodating the number of children anticipated for Small School would have meant having as many as 30 students in one class, Godin said. That would violate a board guideline that sets a 20-student maximum for each class. 

“The Small neighborhood is, for whatever reason, our booming neighborhood right now,” Godin told city councilors.

She also said she doesn’t anticipate the enrollment uptick to be a permanent obstacle. She said there is no need to start exploring options to add to the school’s permanent structure.

Schiavi said in its bid that the portable could be ready for use as soon as two weeks after the site is prepared for its installation.

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3361 ext. 106 or mmoretto@theforecaster.net. Follow Mario on Twitter: @riocarmine.

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