As a former mayor of Portland and co-chair of the City Council’s Middle School Building Committee – and a longtime advocate for Portland’s schools – I strongly encourage the current City Council to support a $64 million education bond to locally fund the rebuilding of our four oldest elementary schools: Lyseth, Longfellow, Presumpscot and Reiche.

When I co-chaired the Middle School Building Committee in the 1990s, I had a firsthand look at the importance of ensuring that our children have access to the best facilities possible – even at great sacrifice to our taxpayers.

At that time, our three middle schools were in a similar state of deferred maintenance and outdated facilities. We had encountered unexpected quantities of asbestos, had to shore up infrastructure and create more flexible learning environments in order for the schools to respond better to the changing demands of public education.

I have no doubt that because we made the substantial investment of over $16 million, the students who have attended these schools over the past 25 years have enjoyed better outcomes. But perhaps more importantly, by investing when we did, we preserved these schools in the neighborhoods they serve.

Much like the four schools under consideration today, investing in them now ensures we won’t be closing neighborhood schools that do so much to keep families connected to their schools.

Paying for them locally, as painful as that feels, means that we don’t have to wait for the state to decide which kids get the education they deserve.

Jack Dawson