2017-05-01 / Front Page

Straw poll in Sanford Wednesday for elementary school projects

Senior Staff Writer

SANFORD  — A straw poll to approve state funding for expansion and renovation of three schools for elementary use is set for Wednesday.

The cost is projected at $43 million, to be paid by the state. No local funds are earmarked for the project.

The School Department is asking folks to turn out at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Sanford High School cafeteria. The straw poll on the proposal to expand Margaret Chase Smith School, transform  the current Sanford High School into a middle school —  once the new high school off lower Main Street opens in the  fall of 2018 — and turn the current junior high school into an elementary school, will be held at 7:15 p.m.

In order to advance the project the state Department of Education requires the straw poll to take place.

The state Board of Education will meet on Friday in Augusta for a final vote on the project. A public referendum will be held on June 13 for final voter approval of the project and the state funding. 

“This $43 million project is 100 percent state funded with no local money being invested,” said School Superintendent David Theoharides in a statement. “Residents will be asked, by a show of hands, if they support the project and accept state funding. A positive straw poll is needed to bring the project forward for final  state Board of Education approval.”

This is the second straw poll required by the DOE. The first was held Nov. 29 and received overwhelming support from the residents who attended.

School officials say the expansion and conversion project will provide Sanford and Springvale students in grades pre-K to grade eight with significantly improved facilities that meet educational, safety and security needs.

“The School Department will be able to replace overcrowded classrooms with appropriately-sized classrooms and supporting educational spaces, greatly improve security and safety with the elimination of all portable classrooms, and significantly improve efficiency of operations by closing three outdated facilities,” Theoharides’ statement says.

Proponents say by repurposing and converting the existing high school and technical center into a middle school, students in grades five  through eight will have an improved educational environment with separate wings for each grade level, a larger cafeteria, music rooms, a library, a gymnasium, and athletic facilities as well as new opportunities for STEM (science, Ttechnology, engineering and math) and pre-technical classes. 

Three equally sized pre-K to grade four elementary schools will be established using Margaret Chase Smith School for the southern part of the city; Carl J. Lamb School for the northern part of the city; and repurposing the existing junior high school for the central part of the city. This means unlike now, students will be able to stay at the same elementary school for grades pre-K to grade four, transition to the middle school for grades five to eight, and finally transition to the new high school/technical center. 

Layfayette and Willard elementary schools would close under the scenario.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.


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