About 20 city and school officials – and some parents – got the opportunity Monday evening to see why renovations are being sought at Longfellow Elementary School in Portland.

Principal Terry Young spent more than an hour giving the group a tour of the Stevens Avenue school, which was built in the mid-1950s.

The officials also toured Reiche Elementary School on Monday night as part of a fact-finding effort to determine whether the City Council will support sending voters a $70 million bond referendum to cover renovations at four Portland elementary schools.

The officials requested the tours to get a firsthand look at conditions that led the school board to recommend the bond to renovate Presumpscot, Longfellow, Lyseth and Reiche elementary schools. The schools were all built 40 to 60 years ago.

Young said the biggest issue facing his staff is adequate classroom, storage and working space. With the exception of an outdoor garden and pool area, which is used for science and writing classes as well as staff meetings, the grades K-5 school, with an enrollment last year that reached 350 students, looks old.

Observers, including Mayor Ethan Strimling, city councilors and school board members, were shown a music room so small that students find it difficult to dance or play instruments there. The school’s tiny gym doubles as a cafeteria, and a first-floor hallway has dining tables and chairs stacked against a wall because there is no permanent storage space for the cafeteria furniture.

About half the hallway is passable, but “this space can be challenging,” Young said.

Some classroom windows at Longfellow are nearly impossible to open and when the heating system is working, the steam vents rattle, making what Young describes as an “incredibly loud” noise. There are books stored on wall cabinets in Longfellow’s two-room library, but not much else to indicate it’s a place where students could congregate to read.

“This feels like a room with books in it,” Young said. “But it doesn’t really have the warmth you’d expect to see in a library. The kids don’t spend a lot of time here. They come to get their books and then they leave.”

The tours were organized by the School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee, which is made up of city councilors and school board members.

The committee was created July 6 by the City Council after the school board voted to recommend that the council schedule a referendum on a $70 million bond issue to renovate the four schools.

Supporters wanted it on the November ballot, but councilors said they needed more information before putting the issue to voters.

The next meeting of the committee will be at 5 p.m. Aug. 30 in City Hall. Oak Point Associates, the project’s architect, is expected to give an in-depth, school-by-school presentation of the proposed renovations.

Planned fixes range from installing functional heating and windows that open to building new space so the schools can get rid of portable trailers that are used for classrooms.