Scarborough will pursue The Downs downtown development as the site for a $137 million consolidated primary school.

The Town Council Wednesday voted unanimously in favor of getting an appraisal on an as yet unspecified lot of up to 25 acres at The Downs.

“This is not a vote in support of the school solution or anything of that nature,” said Councilor Jon Anderson.

The school building committee is expected to present a specific site to the council May 17, according to Town Manager Tom Hall. In the meantime, the vote Wednesday allows him to get the paperwork started for an appraisal.

Councilors emphasized that the school building committee and school board need the appraisal so they can then decide either to strike a deal or look elsewhere.

One of the portable classrooms at Eight Corners Primary School in Scarborough. File photo / Portland Press Herald

The school department is expected to work on final designs and cost estimates into July. To put the project on the ballot in the November elections, the building committee must issue a referendum request by July 31. The council and school board, after public hearings, would vote in August on whether to seek voter approval Nov. 7.


The building committee selected The Downs as its first choice for a new school based on a number of criteria, including that the school be located within a 1.5-mile radius of the municipal campus on Route 1 and that the length of bus rides to the new school are equitable for all students.

The 25-acre lot threshold is in line with design recommendations and with state regulations that require a maximum lot size for new schools if the state is to provide any funding.

A number of school staff members showed up Wednesday in support of the project and location. The new school would replace the Pleasant Hill, Blue Point and Eight Corners K-2 schools. It would also include the third grade, freeing Wentworth School, grades 3-5, to take on sixth graders and alleviate overcrowding at the middle school. Overcrowding across the school system has been a concern for some time.

“I’ve worked here for 20 years,” Kelly Mullen-Martin, principal of Blue Point, told the council on Wednesday. “Adequate and appropriate space has been an issue since the day I started and it’s grown and grown and grown.”

All three primary schools were built between 1957 and 1965 and were added onto in 1993. Portable classrooms also have been added. Since 2001, 18 of the district’s 30 portables have been used at the K-2 schools.

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