On Tuesday, April 5, there is scheduled a special election on a bond referendum that supports the construction of a long-overdue replacement for Hall Elementary School in Portland.

This bond proposal looks much larger than it actually is; all but about $1.3 million is being financed by the state.

This is the result of a long negotiation with the Maine Department of Education by a committed Board of Education, city councilors, citizens and parents who worked diligently on the Hall School Building Committee. Their commitment to this facility being more than just another school building is admirable.

Their desire is to create a community school that serves as a center for community activities, a need that is otherwise unfulfilled in that neighborhood. That is what Portland’s share of the cost – $1.3 million – will achieve.

In the discussions about this project by the school board, many parents came to share their concerns about the conditions at some of our other elementary schools.

And while their concerns were and are legitimate, they did not oppose the Hall School project but pointed out the need to broaden the initiative to include the rest of the needs in Portland, which years of tight budgets have allowed to become increasingly serious.

Given all of the input, it appears clear that the school board and members of the City Council recognize that Hall School is just the first step in improving the facilities where our children are educated.

They also recognize that a first-rate education system requires a balance of great educators as well as clean, healthy and safe environments in which they can perform the “magic” we’ve come to expect from our schools.

Because this is such a critical first step for education in Portland, I strongly urge you, as citizens of Portland, to get out to vote and to vote for this bond April 5.

Dick Farnsworth

Democratic state representative

and member, Education and

Cultural Affairs Committee

Portland


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