Portland High School would be one of six schools in the city to get ADA upgrades under a plan by the School Department to borrow $2 million from the state. File / Shawn Patrick Ouellette

PORTLAND — The School Board has authorized borrowing just over $2 million from the state to cover the cost of capital projects that have been on the district’s to-do list for nearly three years.

The money, if it’s ultimately approved by the state, would come from the School Revolving Renovation Fund that’s administered by the Maine Department of Education.

Superintendent of Schools Xavier Botana told the School Board on Sept. 24 that the revolving loan fund has been on hiatus for the past several years, but the state is now calling for applications to cover a specific set of capital projects at schools across Maine.

The total amount available for this round, he said, is $25 million.

Botana said there are several advantages to borrowing from the revolving loan fund. Thirty percent of the total borrowed would be forgiven and the state would not charge the school district any interest during the life of the loan, which runs between five and 10 years.

While the initial application was due by Monday, Sept. 30, Botana told the School Board any money awarded to Portland likely wouldn’t be available until late summer 2020.

However, he said, “with the number of health and safety-related projects in our five-year plan” the Portland schools “are
well-positioned to secure” some of the available funding.

The revolving loan fund can be used for projects that would allow schools to make ADA compliant upgrades, roof repairs, air quality improvements and abate hazardous materials such as asbestos, Botana said.

He said all of the capital projects included in the revolving loan fund request come from the district’s 2017 facilities assessment and represent much-needed work.

Specifically the $2 million would be used to install ADA compliant bathroom sinks and counters at Riverton Elementary School; ADA compliant ramps and handrails, along with 50 new doors and frames at King Middle; an ADA compliant nurse’s area and locker room renovations at Lyman Moore Middle; ADA compliant door, hardware and restrooms at Casco Bay High;
ADA compliant doors, hardware, sinks, counters, handrails, curb cuts, chair lifts and restrooms at Deering High; and ADA compliant walkways, curb cuts, detectable warning strips, handrails on stairs and locker room renovations at Portland High.

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