SCARBOROUGH — With a projected population growth, the Scarborough Steering Committee is trying to find the best way to accommodate K-2 students, who currently do not have enough space between the town’s three primary schools.

The committee voted 11-1 on Nov. 14 to focus time, money and resources on a plan to consolidate the three primary schools, rather than renovating the existing buildings.

The three schools that would be consolidated into one would be Eight Corners, Blue Point and Pleasant Hill, all of which are running out of space, said committee Chair Andrew Bradley.

Daniel Cecil, of Harriman, the architecture firm brought in to study the options, said that creating a new school for kindergarteners through second graders would save almost $2 million.

“What we’re seeing here in front of us is that renovating the old schools will cost more upfront and in the long term,” Bradley said. “They aren’t big enough.”

Besides saving money, the study from Harriman said that building a new school would save more than 30,000 square feet of space.

In Cecil’s and Lisa Sawin’s, the other Harriman representative, presentation, they said how more portable classrooms will be needed to accommodate the projected population of students.

“By 2025, 45 percent of the pre-K through second-grade classrooms will be portables,” said a slide from the presentation. “By 2025, 19 percent of the pre-K through twelfth-grade classrooms will be in portables. Sixty-nine percent of those portables are primary grade classrooms.”

Cecil showed the committee examples of schools both in and out of Maine that had more grades but still felt like smaller schools with the help of their designs.

Committee member Joshua Reny, who was the lone vote against the consolidation plan, said that he thought there might be a third option that no one had yet thought of.

“I’m very skeptical that putting all those students into one school is going to be cost-effective,” he said. “It’s (a) very premature (decision).”

Reny’s skepticism was based in the questions about the middle and high schools, which may also need bigger spaces at some point in the future.

Hillory Durgin, school board and committee member, told Reny that the committee is only focused on the three primary schools and the kindergarten through second grades, and any later decisions about which grades could be included in the new school could wait.

“We may decide that we want to make it a K-3 school so that it can mitigate the problems with the other schools,” Durgin said. “But that’s the next layer that we’re not ready to look at.”

Right now, the committee is only focused on figuring out the best solution to bring forward to the town and town council, she said.

The committee was unanimous on the idea that renovating the existing schools and bringing in more portable classrooms would be a waste of money.

“I would oppose any idea of building portables or anything like that,” Reny said. “It’s just not a sustainable solution, and I’m opposed to the idea of dumping a ton of money into the current primary schools. I think that’s just throwing good money out. At some point, something is going to need to happen.”

The impact of doing nothing, Cecil and Sawin said, would be massive overcrowding, inadequate space, safety issues and smaller core spaces — gyms and cafeterias, meaning students may have to have lunch in their classrooms.

At the end of the meeting, the committee decided that community involvement and a public forum would be needed for the next steps, so there could be outsider input and answers to general questions or concerns.

The town council will be invited to the committee’s Dec. 5 meeting.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: