PORTLAND – School officials are preparing applications for state funding to renovate or replace five of Portland’s 10 elementary schools in the next several years.

The applications, due in June, will be based on a new task force report that highlights significant deficiencies at the Hall, Longfellow, Lyseth, Reiche and Presumpscot elementary schools. Problems range from leaking roofs and limited classroom space to insufficient parking and lack of handicapped accessibility.

Built in the period from 1952 to 1972, the buildings don’t meet 21st-century educational standards, especially when compared with the district’s newer schools, said Superintendent Jim Morse.

“We must address these problems in order to provide equitable facilities for all of Portland’s elementary students,” Morse said. “By submitting five applications, we are maximizing our opportunity to get state funding for at least one of them.”

The district established a task force to prioritize Portland’s elementary school building needs after a recent assessment by the New England School Development Council.

The task force has issued a report, to be presented to the School Committee on May 5, that focuses on physical and program inequities among the district’s elementary schools, including those on Peaks and Cliff islands.

Three of the elementary schools are new or recently renovated: East End, Riverton and Ocean Avenue, which is set to open in the fall and replace the aging Clifford Elementary School.

The task force report focuses on the five other mainland schools, which already need about $11 million worth of maintenance and repairs, school officials said.

“The School Committee is working hard to address the facilities needs of the district through sound planning and multi-year budgeting,” said Jaimey Caron, a School Committee member and the task force chairman. “This report provides a plan to finally deliver on the commitment we made nearly 20 years ago to modernize our elementary schools.”

It will cost about $21.5 million for the new construction, renovations and other building improvements that would bring equity to Portland’s elementary schools, according to the task force.

The report identifies various funding options, including a recommendation to create a revolving capital fund for large projects throughout the district.

Applications for state funding are due June 15. The Maine Department of Education is expected to release a list of projects chosen for funding by the summer of 2011.

 

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]