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This week’s edition!

Your Input on School Redistricting is Requested!

By Linda Scott, Chair, Redistricting Committee

In January 2015, the Lewiston School Committee will make a decision that will determine the face of Lewiston elementary schools for a decade or more. You are invited to learn more about the issue and to voice your opinion in the process.

Martel Elementary School is ranked Number 8 on the Department of Education’s school construction priority list, and the Maine Board of Education approved the commencement of the Martel project last April. The project is expected to include the construction of a new elementary school and the closing of Martel. The Department also supports our considering the needs of Longley Elementary School, as that school is Number 20 on the list, but state funding will only be available for Longley if it is part of the same project as the Martel replacement.

The State has tentatively scheduled bond financing for this project for the fall of 2017. This is a doable, but aggressive, schedule that will require construction to commence no later than the spring of 2017. In order to increase the likelihood of meeting this schedule, the Lewiston School Committee established a Redistricting Committee, with the charge to “make recommendations to the School Committee no later than January 31, 2015 on the grade configuration for the proposed new elementary school and any related redistricting that may be required.”

Once the School Committee has determined the grade configuration and any redistricting issues, a site selection committee will be established to begin looking for possible locations for the new school. The Redistricting Committee has already met six times and invites you to attend one or more of the remaining meetings scheduled to complete its work.

Initially, the Committee identified six possible construction options and a number of factors to be considered. These can be viewed on the Redistricting Committee’s website at https://sites.google.com/a/lewistonpublicschools.org/lewiston-public-schools-redistricting/working-documents.

The Committee remains open to other options that may be suggested. Thus far, based upon feedback to date from the Department of Education and the public, the following four options may be the most viable:

1) Make both Farwell and Longley schools preK-2nd grade and build a new 3rd-6th grade school somewhere in the existing Farwell, Longley and Martel districts. School children in the present Martel district would go to Farwell for PreK-2nd grade. The new 3rd-6th grade school would have up to 700 students.

2) Combine Longley and Martel schools at Longley with appropriate renovation and expansion to house both school districts. The expanded school would have a capacity of approximately 1,000 students.

3) Combine Longley and Martel schools in a new building at a new site. The new school would have up to 1,000 students.

4) Expand the Martel district and build a new school to ease overcrowding elsewhere. The new school would be similar to Geiger in size and have up to 700 students. Longley would likely have few students, but any renovation would have to be with city funds.

You are invited to contact any of the Committee members below by telephone or email.

Remaining meetings:

Wednesday, November 12 at 6 p.m. at Geiger Elementary School; Thursday, November 13 at 6 p.m. at Montello Elementary School; Tuesday, November 18 at 6 p.m. at Farwell Elementary School; Monday, December 1 at 4:30 p.m. at the Dingley Building; Tuesday, December 16 at 4:30 p.m. at the Dingley Building; Preliminary Recommendation – Wednesday, January 7 at 7 p.m. at the Dingley Building; Presentation to School Committee – Monday, January 26 at 6:45 p.m. at the Dingley Building.

Partial list of Committee members:

Farwell principal Althea Walker, 795-4110 (awalker@lewistonpublicschools.org); Longley principle Kristie Clark, 795-4120 (kclark@lewistonpublicschools.org); Martel principal Stephen Whitfield, 795-4130 (swhitfield@lewistonpublicschools.org); Geiger parent Sean Andrews, 576-0504 (sandrews11@gmail.com); McMahon parent Jodi Wolverton, 784-1062 (jodiwolverton@gmail.com); Montello parent Jen Williams, 784-7395 (jwilliams@avcog.org); Community member Elizabeth Eames, 784-8317 (eeames@bates.edu); Planning Board member Bruce Damon, 212-6151 (bdamon@damonmechanical.com); School Committee member Linda Scott, 689-5411 (baybarrett@msn.com); Superintendent Bill Webster, 795-4100 (bwebster@lewistonpublicschools.org).

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