Work is continuing on a $2.4 million expansion of Winslow Elementary School at 285 Benton Ave. School officials have been told construction should be completed by June. Above, the school’s rear entrance. Morning Sentinel file

WINSLOW — School officials said recently that work is continuing on a $2.4 million expansion of Winslow Elementary School and should be completed by June.

The project addresses a dire need for more space at the school at 285 Benton Ave., according to officials. It includes a two-story expansion adding four classrooms, two utility spaces and two bathrooms.

South Portland-based Ledgewood Construction broke ground on the project in August, and the Winslow School Board provided an update last week, with board Chairman Joel Selwood saying, “Everything is going along great.”

The project is being funded using federal coronavirus relief money intended to allow for social distancing in schools.

“We’re happy we’re able to do it without any expense on the local taxpayer,” Selwood said. “That’s always a plus.”

The money was awarded by the state to 20 school districts that needed funding to plan for a safe return to in-person instruction. Superintendent Peter Thiboutot said Friday one of the allowable uses of the money was building construction.


Erica Gower, principal at Winslow Elementary School, said Friday that every room is accounted for, with no multipurpose space to accommodate enrichment programming, special education or small groups for extra work in math or literacy. That instruction is still happening, Gower said, but in the backs of classrooms or sometimes in hallways.

The school has been expanded before. Gower said before she became principal five years ago, her predecessor oversaw the addition of a first and second grade class to decrease class sizes.

Gower said matters worsened after Winslow’s junior high school was closed in 2019. Although the junior high school reopened at a new building in 2020, it was only for seventh and eighth graders. Last year, sixth grade was incorporated into the elementary school.

“It got really, really tight here,” Gower said.

She said some groups, including one that represents the L.C. Bates Museum in Hinckley, have found it difficult to come in to deliver guest presentations because there is little room.

Support sessions for math and literacy would ideally also be held in multipurpose rooms, and not at the backs of classrooms, Gower said.

“We’re making it work the best that we can at this point,” Gower said. “Ideally, we would have an additional space for them to do small groups in a classroom area that’s quiet.”

With the promise of four new classrooms by June, it seems finally Gower will have space to grow. She said she is looking forward to expanding enrichment opportunities and spreading out special education instruction and services.

“We’re excited to have the additional space,” she said, “and make things better for our students.”

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