This year, Westbrook will undertake a $27 million renovation of two local schools, a project approved by voters in November.

The proposal passed with nearly 60 percent of the vote – 5,291 to 3,804. The bond will pay for a renovation and 12 new classrooms at Saccarappa Elementary School, as well as 12 new classrooms at Westbrook Middle School.

Both the Westbrook City Council and the Westbrook School Committee supported the project and voted unanimously to put it on the November ballot.

“It is amazing to really see the final plans come to fruition,” Superintendent Peter Lancia said. “Our kids are just so lucky to be in this community where people support them and believe in their future.”

Lancia said the district has been working with architecture firm Harriman Associates to finalize the designs for the two schools. He hopes to put the project out to bid in the spring.

“If all goes well, we’re hoping to be able to break ground as soon as school ends,” Lancia said.

Construction at the middle school will likely take one year to complete, while work at Saccarappa will take between 18 and 20 months. While Lancia hopes the loudest and most disruptive work can be completed over the summer, he said the students will experience construction during the next school year.

“School will be going on during construction,” Lancia said. “We want to make sure it’s safe and not too disruptive to their learning process.”

Parents should watch for more details about the construction during the upcoming term, he said. The district will also post updates on a website created before the referendum –

City Administrator Jerre Bryant said the total impact on the tax rate will likely be 80 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, but taxpayers won’t see that increase all at once.

“The impact would be spread over a minimum of three years,” Bryant said.

In 2012, the school department closed the aging Prides Corner School. Elementary students were reshuffled throughout the district, and fifth-graders moved to Westbrook Middle School. Prides Corner was in desperate need of repair, and the student population had been declining for more than five years. From 2003 to 2009, the elementary schools alone shrank by 130 students.

In more recent years, however, that trend has reversed. Lancia has estimated 331 students could join the district by 2025, which factors in an ongoing housing boom in the city.

While many residents supported the project, some said they are worried the expansion wouldn’t be enough to accommodate a major subdivision and other new homes.

“We’re still very comfortable,” Lancia said of the population estimates.

When the project is completed, officials have promised the schools will be dramatically improved.

“It’ll be second to none,” Lancia said.


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