The Longfellow Elementary School project could go out to bid this spring. Work includes a building addition, classroom upgrades, an elevator, a cafeteria/kitchen, a secure entrance and code upgrades. Courtesy / Lincoln Brown Illustration

PORTLAND — School officials and the architect designing the district’s school reconstruction projects are hoping to put the three remaining projects out to bid this spring with the hopes of completing all work by fall 2023.

The school board is expected to vote on the bidding schedule for the three projects on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

Work at Reiche Elementary School will include enclosing classrooms, adding a secure entrance and code upgrades. Courtesy / Lincoln Brown Illustration

The goal is to put the Longfellow or the Reiche project out to bid in February, the other one in March and Presumpscot Elementary School in April, said Harriman architect Mark Lee. Construction could begin at all three schools by the summer, with a plan of completing work at Presumpscot by fall 2022, Reiche by spring 2023 and Longfellow by fall 2023.

Work at Lyseth Elementary School is expected to be completed by the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. Voters approved a $64 million bond in November 2017 to update the four elementary schools.

“The reason we would like to stagger the bids has to do with trying to create as much competition for the projects, as much interest from contractors, as we can,” Lee said. “A larger pool of contractors usually translates into the best value.”

It also would allow contractors looking for smaller projects to bid and would avoid competition with two large projects being bid this winter, the $60 million project to combine South Portland’s middle schools into one building and a $100 million project to construct a new Edward Little High School in Auburn.

The Presumpscot Elementary School project includes replacing modular classrooms with a new wing, adding a secure entrance and cafeteria, code upgrades and dedicated space for music and art. Courtesy / Lincoln Brown Illustration

As the final documents are put together for the spring bid schedule, Steve Stilphen, the district’s  director of facilities, planning, management and maintenance, said

The school district will hire an owner’s representative and clerk of the works, said Steve Stilphen, director of facilities, planning, management and maintenance. Those two positions are imperative to successful completion of the projects, he said. Representing the interests of the district, they will work to keep the projects on schedule, oversee logistics and handle communication between the contractors, architects and school officials.

“It’s basically implementing a team that can drive the projects home so they are on time, they are on budget and with as few problems as we can work around,” Stilphen said.

The $13 million project at Presumpscot ($9.7 million in construction costs) includes replacing modular classrooms with an addition that will house a cafeteria, kindergarten classrooms and art and music spaces. The school will also will get a new secure entrance and building code upgrades.

Work at Reiche is expected to cost $21 million ($15.7 million in construction cost) and includes adding walls and doors to classrooms, a secure entrance, building code upgrades and moving the music classroom.

Renovation and expansion work at Longfellow is expected to cost $14 million ($10.5 million in construction costs) involves classroom upgrades, a new cafeteria, a secure entrance, building code upgrades and an elevator.

The school district’s attorney, Agnieszka A. Dixon, last week laid to rest concerns that the school projects would have to be reworked to include New Green Deal provisions passed in November by voters.

Dixon said the projects are exempted from those requirements because site plans were filed before the new rules went into effect on Dec. 6. Reworking the projects could have added $6 million to the total project cost.

“Because we are able to get the submissions accepted as complete, this grandfathering rules allowed us to be exempt from the provisions of the Green Building Code,” she said.

In response to a question from new school board member Aura Russell-Bedder, Dixon said she does not expect her legal interpretation to be challenged by People First Portland, the group that placed the Green New Deal question on the November referendum ballot.

Board of Education Chairperson Emily Figdor said the remaining school projects will be built with energy efficiency in mind and are designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Standards.

For more information about the projects, visit

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