The yearslong effort to rebuild Portland’s Hall Elementary School took a critical step forward Tuesday as local voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum to pay for the project.

A bond issue to fund construction project passed by 86 percent of the vote, with 1,812 votes in favor and 293 votes against.

“I am very pleased that Portland voters have once again shown that educating our children is a top priority for our city. This vote bodes well for the renovations that need to be completed at our four other elementary schools: Reiche, Presumpscot, Longfellow and Lyseth,” Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling said in a statement.

The 2,105 residents who cast ballots represented less than 4 percent of the 55,000 registered voters in Portland, but it was a higher turnout than last May’s school budget vote.

The state has agreed to pay for almost all of the $29.7 million project. Only $1.4 million would be local funding, for specific upgrades such as a larger gym that can serve as a community center.

“I’m very excited by the news,” School Board Chairwoman Marnie Morrione said after the vote.

“This is a long time coming and many years of work (have) gone into this,” Morrione added. “I can’t think of anything better for our Hall students.”

A group of Portland parents known as Protect Our Neighborhood Schools said they hoped Portland residents will also support their efforts to make improvements at the city’s other elementary schools.

“After decades of delay, the School Board and City Council must pass a bond this year to renovate the four remaining schools, so we can provide an equitable and safe learning environment for all of Portland’s youngest students and prove that we value our children and their education, ” Jeanne Swanton of Protect Our Neighborhood Schools said in a statement.

Morrione said the School Board is working on getting updated figures for the cost of renovating the other schools. She said Tuesday that she is hopeful that there is support for another bond for those projects.

The Portland Republican City Committee had urged a no vote on the Hall School referendum.

Hall Elementary School was built at 23 Orono Road in 1956, and the one-story building has problems with drainage and rotting siding. In 2012, an electrical fire at the school displaced the 400-plus students for two weeks.

The new school will have room for 558 students. In addition to the larger gym, local funding will be used for features approved by a special committee and the school board, including a bigger cafeteria, additional play structures and outdoor learning spaces, and certification as a “green” building.

The proposed opening of the new school is September 2018.

Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:

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Twitter: noelinmaine