LEWISTON — With the new school proposal, elementary students would benefit from smaller classrooms — and high school students would get better athletic fields and more playing time.

The community would also get walking paths at Franklin Pasture.

The building design and budget were unveiled Monday night to the Lewiston School Committee, which voted unanimously to approve it.

Depending on which option they approve, the cost to Lewiston taxpayers “is zero,” Superintendent Bill Webster said Monday. That’s because the state is fully funding the $49.7 million option.

If Lewiston voters decide to add a regulation-size gym at the elementary school, air conditioning for summer programs and artificial turf to the high school baseball/field hockey field, it would cost $52 million, or $2.1 million more. That would mean about $9 a year to a property taxpayer with a $150,000 home.

The school would be built next to Lewiston High School on East Avenue.

In the architect design, the red and gray brick building would house 880 students from Martel and Longley schools, plus more than 100 students from other schools that are overcrowded. It would have two levels of classrooms at one end and a cafeteria, stage and gym at the other. They would be separated by administrative offices, the lobby, meeting rooms and the library.

The more-expensive option would include a larger gym, air conditioning, a new football/soccer/lacrosse field and a baseball/field hockey field, both with artificial turf.

“And this building is going to be so much more efficient, which will reduce our operating costs,” he said.

The state is paying for new state-of-the-art high school athletic fields, because in order for the school to be built on the high school football field, the fields have to be moved.

The state, however, doesn’t pay for artificial turf. Funds to provide the turf for the football field have been raised by the Franklin Pasture volunteers.

Taxpayers will be asked to consider artificial turf for the baseball field, in part to stir economic development and allowing state championships to be held in Lewiston, as well as to extend use of the fields to more students and community members, as grass fields can’t be used as much as artificial turf fields.

“Part of the thinking of the Building Committee is these artificial turf fields really contribute to economic activity in Lewiston with state championship meets,” Webster said.

The new school and fields would turn the high school complex “into a premiere educational campus in Maine,” Webster said. “The location is wonderful. It feels like a rural environment, right in the middle of an urban area. It’s a very special place.”

A paved and lighted walking path would be created beside Bartlett Street but without the steep grade of the Bartlett Street hill. It would lead from the Longley School area on Birch Street to the new school.

Parents dropping off students would use a Bartlett Street entrance; buses would use an East Avenue entrance.

On June 14, voters will be asked to decide between these two options:

• The $49.7 million plan that’s paid completely by the state; or

• The $52 million plan that calls for raising an additional $2.1 million locally for a larger gym, air conditioning and artificial turf.

The public will hear a presentation on the school, and will be given a chance to ask questions and take a straw poll vote at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, at Lewiston High School.

What you need to know

Proposed elementary school

What and where? A building for 880-plus students next to Lewiston High School on East Avenue, and new athletic fields for the high school and community. 

Why? To house students from Martel and Longley schools, and others from overcrowded schools.

How much? Either $49.7 million or $52 million. The less-expensive option is paid entirely by the state; the more expensive option includes $2.1 million raised locally for a larger gym, air conditioning and a baseball/field hockey field with artificial turf. It would raise taxes $9 a year on a property valued at $150,000.

What’s next? A state-required nonbinding vote at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, at Lewiston High School to gauge community support. Voters will decide the issue June 14.

For more information: sites.google.com/a/lewistonpublicschools.org/lewiston-s-new-elementary-school

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.