The District Advisory Building Committee this week begin reviewing feedback from community forums held this fall about school construction plans for Longfellow, Presumpscot and Reiche elementary schools. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

PORTLAND — Feedback gathered at three recent public forums will be reviewed this week to see how the ideas might be rolled into renovation and design plans for Longfellow, Presumpscot and Reiche elementary schools.

The school department’s district advisory building committee will discuss the public input as it begins cost estimate and design discussions at a meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, in the Amanda Rowe conference room on the second floor of Central Office at 353 Cumberland Ave.

The public forums were held “to get a fresh look at what really are the must haves as we get deeper into the designs,” said Stephen Stilphen, the school department’s director of facilities planning, management and maintenance.

Sarah Thompson, co-chairman of the district advisory building committee, cautioned that the projects are contingent on the available money and the cost of the work.

“What we envisioned for some of the projects is actually coming in higher,” she said, because of the cost of hiring construction workers, which are in short supply.

The forums were the latest step in a years-long effort, Buildings for Our Future, to improve and update classroom and other program spaces, enhance physical safety and security measures and create dedicated cafeteria and gym spaces at the three schools as well as at Lyseth.  Voters approved a $64.4 million bond in November 2017 for the project.

Construction workers lay the groundwork for a new front lobby and entrance at Lyseth Elementary School in North Deering earlier this fall. Lyseth is one of the schools voters approved to be renovated through a $64 million bond. File photo

Work on Lyseth is already underway. The $16.5 million project there includes a new gym and library, upgrades to the school’s entrance and administrative space and a renovation of the cafeteria. Space will be added for English Language Learner, speech, art, music and Pre-K classes and for social workers and gifted and talented programs. The work, which will be done in phases, is expected to be complete by the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

Thompson said Portland school staff are working with the state to get permission to have the other three school projects go out to bid together to be a more attractive opportunity for contractors.

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