Portland’s school board next week will consider the cost and educational benefits of reconfiguring the district’s eight mainland elementary schools into four primary schools and four intermediate schools.

The primary schools would serve students in pre-K through second grade and the intermediate schools would have students in third through fifth grade under the proposal the school district outlined in a news release Thursday.

The district said that a predicted decrease in state aid and increased costs could lead to a budget gap of $7 million to $8 million in the fiscal 2020-21 budget. The elementary school reconfiguration could save $660,000 to $780,000 by reducing the number of classrooms needed to serve students.

“By having an entire school use a primary or an intermediate instructional model, the district would be able to better focus instruction, curriculum and programming to continue to work toward its achievement and whole student goals,” the news release said. “The reconfiguration also would further the district’s equity goal by making elementary schools more like the district’s secondary schools, with more balanced demographic makeup and diversity.”

The model was developed by the district’s Enrollment and Facility Study Commission, which was formed to identify and recommend possible cost-saving initiatives to address projected declines in state aid. The commission’s final report stopped short of recommending a specific plan for reconfiguring elementary schools.

The district also has been looking at reconfiguring grade levels, as a cost savings measure. A facilities and enrollment study conducted last year generated several proposals for reconfiguring the district’s grade levels, but no action was taken after the community opposed a suggestion to consolidate two of the city’s three high schools in the district and form a single junior high school.


Board members also are expected to a hold a workshop Tuesday evening on renaming Riverton Elementary School after one of the city’s leading civil rights advocates, Gerald E. Talbot. Talbot, a longtime Portland resident, was the first African American elected to the Maine Legislature. He was an educator, author, historian, civil and human rights activist. He was also the founding president of the Portland branch of the NAACP. The board may schedule a second reading and public hearing for its Feb. 4 meeting.

Next week’s school board meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Casco Bay High School, at 196 Allen Ave.





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