Construction is expected to start this summer on three school renovation projects in Portland as work wraps up on a fourth, all funded by a bond approved by city voters in 2017.

The school board voted unanimously Tuesday to accept an $11.7 million bid from Hardypond Construction for the renovation of Reiche Elementary School. The bid came in more than $4 million under budget, and school officials are considering how to use the remaining funds as the district awaits bids on the fourth and final school project, at Presumpscot Elementary.

“I am so thrilled to get to this point after years of effort by the community to address the condition of Reiche school and the limitations it has on learning, to get to this point where we are about to approve this contract and break ground and that we have a cushion of money to be able to consider how to use on Reiche and the two other projects,” school board Chair Emily Figdor said at Tuesday’s board meeting. “I just couldn’t be more thrilled to be in this situation.”

Residents voted in 2017 to approve the $64 million Buildings for Our Future bond to renovate the four schools, which include Longfellow and Lyseth in addition to Presumpscot and Reiche.

Construction at Lyseth is expected to be completed before the 2021-22 school year. Board members as well as members of district and school-level building committees will attend a walk-through Thursday to see the results of renovations that started there two years ago.

Hardypond is also the contractor on the Lyseth project, while the board voted in May to approve an $11 million contract with Blane Casey Building Construction for the renovations at Longfellow. That bid came in about $29,000 under budget.

In February 2020, the district announced it would cost about $21 million more than voters had approved to complete the four renovations because of sharp increases in construction costs. Last fall, they announced plans to move forward on scaled back renovations that wouldn’t include the same extent of work on classrooms, or all the efficiency and system upgrades called for in the original plans.

The Reiche project includes construction of a single-story administrative addition with secure front entry, an exterior stair addition and the addition of walls between program spaces. The upgrades will also include spaces for special services to be integrated into classroom areas and collaboration spaces throughout classroom corridors.

Groundwork at Longfellow will begin shortly and construction there and at Reiche is expected to take about 40 months. Bids on Presumpscot were originally scheduled to come back June 24, and the district has granted a one-week extension.

Once the bids are received, and if there is a successful offer, the board will be asked to authorize the district to enter into a contract. Construction on Presumpscot is expected to last approximately 18 months.

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