The Scarborough Town Council is not ready to back a plan for a consolidated primary school.

Of the seven council members surveyed Wednesday at a workshop with the Board of Education and its Building Committee, three said they were on board with moving in that direction, but four were not convinced.

A consolidated primary school as proposed by the school board is intended to alleviate overcrowding. The new school would replace the K-2 Pleasant Hill, Blue Point, and Eight Corners schools. It would also have enough room for the town’s third graders, freeing up Wentworth School, which now has grades 3-5, to take on sixth graders from the middle school, addressing overcrowding there.

When councilors were asked to rate how on-board they were with a consolidated school plan, using a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being “not ready” and 10 being “full speed ahead,” answers ranged from Councilors April Sither’s and Karin Shupe’s ratings of 9 to Councilor Nick McGee’s “2 or 3 on a good day.”

Sither said the only reason she couldn’t commit fully to the plan is because residents aren’t on board with it yet.

Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina, who gauged her readiness as an 8, agreed.


“I do think a consolidated school makes the most sense,” Caterina said. “But I’m concerned because I may be here, but the public’s not.”

McGee said while he understands the plan is in its early stages, he needs more details before backing it.

“I can get on board as long as I get the information, and I feel, at this stage, I lack a lot of the information I’d be seeking,” he said. “I also feel like I don’t have a grasp on the overall plan. No land; I know they’re working on it. No school design; I know they’re going to be working on it once they find out the land.”

Councilor John Cloutier put himself right in the middle, saying a major reason he moved to Scarborough was its smaller primary schools.

“I understand the numbers probably make more sense to consolidate, and services that you can provide, but I think there are some benefits to the small local schools,” Cloutier said. “It doesn’t mean I won’t get there and I certainly wouldn’t try to block anything.”

Councilors Jon Anderson and Don Hamill rated their readiness at 6 and 4, respectively.

A consolidated school was originally estimated to cost $137 million, but Building Committee members say that number has likely increased due to inflation. Other options to address overcrowding, such as renovations, won’t be as cost-effective, and constructing additional smaller schools could be even more expensive, they said.

Over the past two decades, 18 portable classrooms have been added to the primary schools because of overcrowding. The district uses a total of 30 portables.

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