LEWISTON — The recent overcrowding of Lewiston public schools was the hot-button topic of Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. 

Superintendent Bill Webster presented his proposal for a six-classroom modular building to be added to the Farwell Elementary School campus. Although a new elementary school is in the works, it is not expected to be completed until 2019 at the earliest, Webster said, and there is an immediate need to house the students already here.

“This is not an easy issue,” Webster said.

The council agreed that the biggest unknown is future enrollment. The entirety of the proposal rests on the expected student increase. 

“This is my fourth year hearing enrollment projections and each time there is a projected plateau,” Councilor Nathan Libby said. Based on past projections, the estimate has never been close to the actual increase in students, he said. 

The other side of the issue is funding. Webster said that a portion of the modular and temporary addition would be funded by a lease from the state of $8 per square foot for up to five years, a total of $350,000. The estimate for the city, after state funding, is around $1.2 million. Although it would cost about $500,000 more for a permanent building, the state lease will only fund a temporary structure. 

Several parents of Farwell students were concerned about the possibility of an addition.

“This was dropped on us last night and many parents only found out this morning,” one parent said. “The cafeteria is already too small and parking is already a disaster.”

The parent added, “We aren’t even thinking about other costs yet, like hiring another custodian and paying for additional upkeep.”

The next meeting with the City Council on this topic is Nov. 17. If the proposal is approved at that meeting, it will go to voters June 7. 


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