SCARBOROUGH — With overpopulation at Eight Corners, Pleasant Hill and Blue Point primary schools becoming an issue, the Board of Education discussed concerns the community has about consolidating the three buildings.

The vote to approve the consolidation project has been pushed to Jan. 16, said Chair of the Board of Education Leanne Kazilionis on Jan. 2.

During a public forum on Dec. 19, parents and teachers expressed confusion, support or concern about the idea of consolidating the town’s three public schools. Many had questions about traffic, longer bus rides or children’s ability to navigate a newer, larger facility.

According to data from the school board’s previous meetings, 45 percent of all primary school students will need to have class in portable buildings if nothing is done.

Sue Helms, a former principal at Blue Point Primary School, asked the board about building a fourth building and renovating the existing schools at the beginning of the forum, with many residents agreeing with her suggestion as the meeting continued.

Andrew Bradley, chair of the building steering committee, which the school board created to find a solution for the overcrowding issues and out-of-date primary schools’ facilities, said that renovating the buildings would cost significantly more than starting from scratch.


“We’re talking about four construction sites, three of which will be populated with children, and I think that will come to a significantly long construction phase,” he said. “I think the dollar signs for that solution, if we don’t care, is a great solution. We’ll have great facilities. Three of the four will have some undersized classrooms, maybe we can deal with that. The fourth one will be beautiful and new, but — and I can’t say this with 100 percent certainty, but I can go to 98 percent and say that’s a much more expensive solution.”

The longer amount of time to renovate four buildings would make the project more expensive, Bradley said, as inflation would affect the cost.

The problems with the existing facilities also go past design flaws, said Bradley. Insulation, roof support and classroom size would need to be fixed.

“Those buildings weren’t designed to meet current code,” he said. “It feels like keeping the three and bringing them up to date is a much more expensive venture than keeping the three and making them look nice. It’s bringing them all the way back to very bare structure and starting again.”

There would also be a question about where the students would go while their schools are under construction, Bradley said. Working in a construction site would impact their school experiences.

School Board member Nicholas Gill, who is also on the school’s Long Range Planning Committee, said that there would be issues with the buildings that no amount of renovation can fix.


“No matter how much we put in, how many dollars, there are some issues like traffic flow, that have come up,” he said. “I live in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood, and it’s a great little school, but every day there are cars parked up and down the streets. Even if we were going to renovate that building and make it look like it just flew in from 2030, you’re still going to be married to that plot and that spot and the limitations of where those schools are.”

Hillory Durgin, a member of the Board of Education and building steering committee, said that the committee has also shared concerns that parents and teachers have raised during their weekly meetings.

“I would not be in favor of a consolidated school where kids are on the bus for 90 minutes,” she said. “That’s not appropriate, not an appropriate solution to addressing an enrollment problem.”

Any solution that the committee and board works on will be sure to address bus ride times and traffic problems, as well as countless other issues that could arise, Durgin said, and she doesn’t want to brush off the community’s concerns.

The school board has been thinking about these problems with the primary schools for years, pointed out Alicia Giftos, who is also on the building steering committee, and the options have been reviewed by experts.

“When people enter the conversation mid-stream, it’s important to understand that this conversation has been going on for years now, and the school system has employed experts to conduct studies and that data has been analyzed by prior school boards and current school boards, and the building steering committee is comprised of many subject matter experts,” she said.

“We’ve utilized and outsourced experts with experience in that. We’ve included community members in those conversations, members of the school community,” Giftos continued. “These discussions have all occurred — it’s just starting to get media attention. I don’t think people have heard the conversations where we’ve talked for hours about why some choices may seem to make more sense. Now we’re at the highlight of talking about that, and I think it’s important that people understand that those conversations have been occurring for hours and years and there’s some institutional knowledge as well.”

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