A ramp leading to the second floor of an elementary school in Portland’s West End has been shut down because it was deemed unsafe.

The Parent Teacher Organization at Reiche Elementary School sent an alert Monday afternoon, telling parents that the Clark Street ramp, which leads to the community room, health clinic and music room, had been closed down after an inspection. The alert included a photo showing the ramp fenced off with a “do not enter” sign.

Those spaces, which are used by members of the public and schoolchildren, can continue to be accessed from the Brackett Street ramp, or through the school building.

Parents had been monitoring the condition of the concrete Clark Street ramp, which had deteriorated to the point where the structural rebar was exposed. The condition had worsened in recent days and the ramp was closed after they alerted the school district’s maintenance staff.

“After looking at the hole, it was determined that the cement had crumbled so much that not only was rebar visible through it, but the asphalt surfacing that had been put down several years ago was also starting to fall through,” the PTO said. “That meant that the ramp was definitely no longer safe for anyone to stand on. It will be closed until structural engineers have a chance to look at it and determine what need(s) to be done to make it safe and usable for Reiche students and for our friends at (the West End Neighborhood Association).”

The PTO said that parents who usually pick up their kids at the foot of the ramp could continue to do so.

Craig Worth, the school’s deputy chief operations officer, said a structural engineer would look at the ramp on Tuesday. At that point, the district will know how long the ramp will be closed and how much it will cost to fix, he said.

The closure comes as parents across the district are stepping up efforts to persuade the City Council to ask voters to approve a bond to renovate four elementary schools that have not been updated since they were built decades ago.

“This highlights the exact reason I am pushing for a bond to invest in our school infrastructure,” District 2 City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau, who represents the West End, said of the Clark Street ramp.

Voters in April will be asked to approve a $29.7 million bond to replace Hall Elementary School, which was severely damaged by fire in 2012. All but $1.4 million of that bond will be funded by the state.

A 2012 report commissioned by the school district estimated it would cost $50 million to bring the four elementary schools – Reiche, Lyseth, Longfellow and Presumpscot – up to modern education standards and create equality among the district’s eight elementary schools.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: randybillings

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