Portland eyes plan to consolidate high schools after years of state funding cuts

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Under the proposal, either Portland or Deering High School would continue on for grades 10-12, while the other would become a junior high school.
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The Portland School District is talking about a controversial new plan to consolidate high schools in the city.

Portland High School or Deering High School could be going away.

For years under the LePage administration, Portland saw dramatic cuts in state funding for education.

[Crosstown rivals Portland, Deering to discuss combining football teams]

At the same time, property values have skyrocketed, which also means the city gets less funding from the state.

As a result, Portland has had to raise local taxes to make up the difference, leading to some bitter budget battles.

The Enrollment and Facility Study Commission was formed last fall to look at ways to save money.

They’re recommending a controversial plan to the full education board, but as they call it, “only if necessary.”

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Here are some of the highlights of that plan:

— Portland High School or Deering would continue but with only grades 10 to 12.

— The other building would become a junior high school.

— One of the middle schools would close, and two of the middle schools would become upper elementary, with 5 and 6th grade students.

— Finally, elementary schools would become pre-k to grade 4.

Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana says this consolidation would save $2.9 million.

The district says this may all be a moot point, because under the budget proposed by new Gov. Janet Mills, next year looks much better for school districts.

They say if the governor’s budget passes, they may not face a large shortfall and could keep the schools as they are now.

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