A group of Eight Corners students play in the gym minutes before cafeteria workers transition the space into the lunch room Nov. 26. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

SCARBOROUGH — For more than 50 years, the Blue Point, Eight Corners, and Pleasant Hill schools have been educating Scarborough’s youngest learners, but those facilities may be at the end of their useful lives.

The school district’s building steering committee will likely recommend consolidating — rather than upgrading — the three buildings into one larger school in order to deal with overcrowding.

“Maintaining the schools is financially more expensive and a lesser solution for a larger price tag,” said Andrew Bradley, chairman of the building steering committee.

Due to overcrowding over the years modular classrooms have had to be added to Scarborough’s primary schools, including this school year at Eight Corners. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

Many classrooms at the primary schools operate out of modular classrooms, some more than 15 years old. The schools also lack dedicated cafeteria and gymnasium spaces and offer little space for storage or STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) instruction.

Jesseca Steele, principal at Pleasant Hill School, said she anticipates needing more modular classrooms at her school for the 2020-2021 school year, but lacks the space for the structures.

“Once you add (modular classrooms), it takes away playground and parking lots and has a ripple effect in terms of where kids will play and parents can park,” she said.

Eight Corners Principal Anne Lovejoy said if enrollment continues to climb at her school, “we could see kids eating in their classrooms and not having a cafeteria at all because the gymnasium would totally take over that space.”

By 2025, total school enrollment in Scarborough is expected to climb to 3,121 students, including more than 300 K-2 students, according to a 2017 facilities report. The enrollment, as of October, was 2,999 students.

If nothing is done to meet the projected increase in student population by 2025, Harriman said, 45% of students in kindergarten, first and second grades will be learning in modular classrooms.

Eight Corners Principal Anne Lovejoy said one of her concerns with the 60-year-old school is many of the classroom windows don’t open enough to be a proper emergency exit. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

The need for a new school is not just related to space. It is a matter of safety as well. Lovejoy said some of the windows in the three primary schools, last renovated in the early 1990s, don’t open wide enough for students and staff to exit in case of an emergency.

The size and location of a new school are still unknown. The town municipal campus master plan includes building a 171,000-square-foot-school (roughly the size of Wentworth School) somewhere on the municipal campus, possibly near the middle school, along Wentworth Drive. However, Bradley said his committee has not taken a position on the location.

The committee has also not made a recommendation about whether the new school would serve more than just students in kindergarten, first and second grades. In 2017, Harriman laid out a series of options the district could do to solve overcrowding issues at the primary and middle school levels that ranged from adding modulars to renovating primary schools to building a new pre-K to third grade primary school to moving sixth grade to available space in Wentworth School to building a new school/renovating Eight Corners into a school for pre-K and kindergarten.

The committee will present its recommendation to the Town Council at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 at Town Hall, and a public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 19. A final vote from the board of education is Jan. 2.

Comments are not available on this story.