Public schools in Saco and Windham placed among the top five in the Maine Department of Education’s latest priority list of school projects that could qualify for state construction funding.

In addition to the Young School in Saco and the Windham Middle School, which ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, Portland High School also made the list, placing 15th of 74 schools seeking funds. The school construction funding list was presented to the state Board of Education on Wednesday.

The board took no action at its Wednesday meeting. Districts that are unhappy with the way their projects were scored now have 30 days to appeal, according to the department.

“I am pleasantly surprised that Portland High School scored so well, but I certainly knew the school needed work,” Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling said.

The mayor said it is possible the state could fund repairs to the high school in the next round of school funding.

“The big question now is how much funding will be available, but with a new governor hopefully he will make education a priority,” Strimling said.

A November 2016 Facilities Assessment of School Buildings in Portland estimated that it would cost about $47 million to make repairs and upgrades at Portland High School. Renovations and repairs to the Allen Avenue building that houses both the Portland Arts and Technology High School and Casco Bay High School would cost about $39 million. The PATHS/Casco Bay project scored 25th on the state list.

“For two of Portland’s high schools to make the list is great news,” said Emily Figdor, director of Protect Our Neighborhood Schools, a parents organization that advocates on behalf of improving Portland schools.

It was not clear when the next cycle of state-subsidized funding will begin or how much money will be available. The spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Education could not be reached Thursday.

Historically, no more than a dozen schools receive money in any one funding cycle. Priority funding lists come out about every two years, with the last list issued in 2016. Even if a school is awarded funding, it can be months before it receives it.

Rankings on the funding priority list are done from a matrix developed by the education department.

School officials in Saco and Windham did not return phone calls regarding questions about the projects in their districts.

The Fairfield Primary School was deemed the neediest school in Maine, with a score of 137.69. It was followed by the North Elementary School in Skowhegan and Rumford Elementary School.

The Lillian P. Hussey Elementary School in Augusta placed 9th on the state list.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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