South Portland seeks consultants for middle school planning

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Moving toward the possibility of combined middle schools, the School Department last week issued a request for bids from educational and architectural consultants to research the process. 

The request comes in conjunction with work completed by the Middle School Building Committee, which reconvened last summer after a five-year hiatus.

“We’ve been a little bit slow getting started, we’ve learned a lot about the buildings, but now we really need to get into the deeper examination stage,” Superintendent of Schools Ken Kunin told the School Board in November.

The committee was tasked with analyzing the consolidation of Memorial and Mahoney middle schools. According to the Nov. 27 request for bids, proposals will be sought for either the renovation of both buildings or an addition to one building to accommodate a combined school. Proposing a new location will be part of the research, too.

Memorial Middle School, at 120 Wescott Road, was built in 1967 and has about 400 students in approximately 94,000 square feet. Mahoney, built in 1922 at 240 Ocean St., has approximately 300 students and is 92,000 square feet. 

The two schools are the oldest in the city and are the only ones that have not had major renovations or reconstruction. 

Each of the city’s five elementary schools were renovated or entirely rebuilt between 2000 and 2005. Voters in 2009 approved a $5.8 million bond for improvements at South Portland High School and both middle schools, and in 2010 approved a $41.5 million bond to renovate the high school.

In 2010, the city applied for state funding to repair one or both middle schools and, while Mahoney needs more funding than Memorial, neither has received any aid.

Necessary health and safety upgrades have been made at both schools in recent years, but other issues, like Mahoney’s lack of handicapped accessibility, need to be addressed, Assistant Superintendent Kathy Germani said in August. 

The firm selected by the district will “assist” the building committee with “initial design work” for either a combined school or renovating both schools, according to the request. 

The committee is seeking guidance for educational and programming needs for the district’s middle school students, along with the type of space necessary to accommodate those needs. 

The panel will also research cost estimates, temporary instructional space, and alternate energy sources that might be viable for the district to pursue in a new building.

Applications are due to the School Department by 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11. Germani said the committee hopes to interview firms by the end of December.  

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA. 

South Portland’s Mahoney Middle School, built in 1922 at 240 Ocean St., has approximately 300 students in 92,000 square feet of space.

Memorial Middle School, built in 1967 at 120 Wescott Road, is approximately 94,000 square feet and has about 400 South Portland students.

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.