The State Board of Education on Wednesday unanimously approved the concept for a new $67.7 million middle school in South Portland.

A total of $59.2 million of the project, which now heads to voters in a Nov. 5 referendum, would be funded by the state with a remaining $8.4 million to be raised locally.

The proposal would replace the city’s two aging middle schools, both of which house grades 6 through 8, with one 5-8 school to be built on the site of Memorial Middle School on Wescott Road. The new school would house about 900 students.

“This is the first state-funded project in South Portland history and we’re just tremendously excited to have received approval at the concept level from the state board to receive over $59 million in state funding that will serve all of the students in South Portland,” Superintendent Ken Kunin said.

He said the project also will allow the district to expand pre-K programs by moving fifth-graders to the middle school, freeing up classroom space in elementary schools.

According to a timeline approved by the state Wednesday, the project would go to referendum in November, design would be complete by April 2020 and the project would go out to bid in December 2020.

Final funding would be approved by the commissioner of the Department of Education in the fall of 2021 with substantial completion of the project by September 2023.

Rachel Ohm — 791-6388

[email protected] 

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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