LEWISTON — Residents are invited to vote in a non-binding, straw poll on the elementary school site selection proposed to be built near Lewiston High School.

The poll is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 21. It is to give the state a sense of community support of the school.

“It’s one of the factors that the State Board of Education looks at in assessing community involvement and interest,” Superintendent Bill Webster said.

The poll will be held after public tours of the Franklin Pasture site at 5:30 p.m. Following that will be a presentation and questions and answers at 6:30 p.m. in the multipurpose room of Lewiston High School. The vote is expected at or before 7:30 p.m.

The school would house 900 students and replace the aging Martel Elementary School and Longley Elementary School while easing overcrowding in other schools.

After the poll, architects and the Building Committee will work on the design of the school, new fields and developing a budget. The cost is estimated at between $35 million and $40 million.

The state will pay for 100 percent of the school unless Lewiston decides to add space or items over what the state would support. The state will also pay for new athletic fields to replace those being displaced.

Members of the 24-member Lewiston Building Committee have visited six new Maine schools to get ideas for what should or should not be included in the new school.

Martel school nurse Nina Baril said she’s toured four schools. She was impressed by the nurse’s office, which had room to talk with students confidentially, cots for sick students and a bathroom with a shower. Her office lacks those.

Overall, the schools “had room, a nice flow and wonderful colors,” she said.

She would like to see the new school have that plus a gymnasium and cafeteria built away from classrooms. “Our gym is the cafeteria and assembly room. It’s difficult to schedule anything,” Baril said.

Webster said he’d like the new school to have rooms between classrooms to allow students to be pulled out of class for special support or space for special assignments.

In Buxton, he saw a school that had teacher work areas on each floor. The areas were smaller than typical teachers’ rooms and were a place teachers could eat, converse or or work. 

Building Committee member Ronnie Paradis said she has never liked carpeting in schools because heavy traffic means carpeting doesn’t stay clean and traps dirt. “I always worried about mold and allergies,” Paradis said.

But she and Webster may change their minds after seeing a school in Buxton with a new kind of thin carpeting, even in the cafeteria.

“It looks like carpet but it doesn’t act like carpet” in that it doesn’t trap dirt and can be thoroughly cleaned, Paradis said. The carpeting helped lessen noise.

“We’ll look into that,” Webster said.

Webster said the new school would be built with a 75-plus-year life expectancy and be energy efficient. The campus at the new school and high school would have more walking paths for the community.

Webster said he envisions the school “would invite the outdoors into classrooms with views of green trees and grass. This site has more opportunity to connect students to the outside.”

Tour, poll on proposed school

What: Tours of a proposed elementary school site near Lewiston High School, followed by informational meeting, questions and answers, then a straw poll

When: Oct. 21, tours at 5:30 p.m., meeting, question and answer, vote at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Multipurpose room of Lewiston High School

Next: Developing a design and budget for state approval; referendum June 2016.


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