The Maine Board of Education rejected a last-ditch effort by Portland officials to get a special dispensation for state school construction funds for renovations at Reiche or Longfellow elementary schools, even though the two schools just missed the cutoff for the current state funding cycle.

Portland Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana, Mayor Ethan Strimling and Councilor Justin Costa appealed to the board at their meeting Wednesday in Portland. The move would have significantly reduced a proposed $70 million bond to renovate Reiche, Longfellow, Lyseth and Presumpscot elementary schools.

But state officials said they have to follow their procedure, which is to fund schools according to priority in a given cycle, which usually lasts several years. The state, which provides construction funds for the neediest schools, closed the most recent funding cycle in September, just as Reiche and Longfellow had moved up to numbers two and three on the list of projects to be funded. Typically, no more than about a dozen schools receive money in any one funding cycle.

“I’m sensitive to your plight and I understand the reasoning,” board member Peter Geiger said. “We’ve worked long and hard developing a list, and I know it doesn’t solve your problem, but if we don’t draw the line (at the end of the funding cycle,) there’s always someone who is next on the list.”

Portland can apply again for state funds, but the next priority list won’t be released for about two years, and the schools could drop so far down the list to the point where they won’t get state funding at all. Even if they are high on the list, it takes years more to go through the process before construction begins.

Strimling said he wasn’t willing to wait: “We can’t continue with these four elementary schools not getting rebuilt,” he said. “That is too long. We will lose two more generations of kids.”

“What this (vote) says is, we have to do it locally. We’ve got to figure out how to do it,” Strimling said after the unanimous vote.

Costa said he expected there to be some discussion on the council about reapplying for state funding, and possibly not including Reiche or Longfellow on the bond list.

“I think people will continue to ask about reapplying,” he said.

That’s the fear of a parents’ organization, Protect our Neighborhood Schools. The group posted a message on Facebook Wednesday, saying some councilors are considering dropping Longfellow and Reiche from the bond. “Call your City Councilors today and urge them to pass the $70 million bond,” the group wrote. “Four schools in one bond. No more excuses. No more delays.”

The four schools have not had significant investments since they were built 40 to 60 years ago.

The Portland Ad Hoc Committee, which is determining whether to recommend to the City Council that it send voters the $70 million bond referendum, will meet next Thursday at 5 p.m. in City Hall.

Portland used state funding to build the East End Community School in 2006, Ocean Avenue Elementary School in 2011, and is currently using state funds to build a new Hall Elementary School.

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