Building for Success: District 63 Facilities Master Plan

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    In December 2016, East Maine School District 63 finalized the major components of a Facilities Master Plan to address several long-term, ongoing challenges it has been facing. Ultimately, these changes will enable District 63 to better serve its families and the community.

    Facilities Challenges

    • Stevenson, Nelson, and Apollo Elementary Schools no longer have adequate capacity for the range of programs they offer, because capacity standards vary based on student, school, and community need.
    • Conversely, Washington Elementary is underutilized; enrollment has been steadily decreasing, dropping to approximately 270 students this year.
    • Enrollment in the District’s First Steps Preschool continues to grow. Since 2008, the population has almost doubled and now tops 260, with continued growth projected. Operating a decentralized preschool at two sites (Apollo and Melzer) is also challenging, and classrooms aren't appropriate for preschoolers.
    • Due to space constraints, the District is unable to offer full-day kindergarten – an option that many families would prefer.
    • There is limited space to expand the Dual Language Program beyond grades K-4.


    Seeking Solutions

    In July 2015, the District launched a facilities utilization study to assess how best to address these challenges. Specifically, the study detailed options for:

    • Relieving the overcrowding.
    • Addressing underutilization of Washington.
    • Creating space in each elementary school for full-day kindergarten.
    • Providing room for First Steps Preschool to grow.
    • Creating capacity to expand the Dual Language Program. 


    Facilities Master Plan

    Based on this study -- and associated potential costs -- the East Maine School District 63 Board of Education will move ahead with the following projects, all of which will create additional space in the District’s elementary schools for full-day kindergarten and an expanded Dual Language Program:

    • Adding an addition onto Gemini Junior High, which currently serves grades 7-8, and shifting all District 63 6th grade students to this middle school.
    • Constructing a freestanding First Steps Preschool facility at the corner of Central and Dee, next to the District Office.
    • Redrawing district boundaries to better distribute the K-5 grade population in the District’s six elementary schools.

    Redrawing Attendance Boundaries

    To relieve overcrowding, attendance boundaries will be redrawn. Here's how it works:
    • The District will hire a consultant to complete a study on options for redistricting.
    • The proposed plan will be shared with parents to elicit feedback and make any changes.
    • The Board of Education will review the final proposal and make a decision.
    • Students entering 5th grade during the year that the attendance boundaries change may remain at their current school.
    Costs and Funding

    The Facilities Master Plan will not require additional property tax revenues – and the District will not need to undertake a referendum.

    The District has adequate funds to cover plan costs, using its existing tax revenue stream and bonds (a standard method of paying for facilities projects) to pay for the work.  


    Estimated costs:

    • Adding an addition to Gemini to accommodate 6th graders:  $29.8 million
    • Construction of a new preschool: $7-$10 million
    • Redrawing attendance boundaries: $20,000
    • Implementing a full-day kindergarten: an additional $600,000 annually 


    Timeline (all dates tentative and subject to change) 

    While a full timeline has not yet been established, during the spring and fall of 2017, District 63 will:

    Tentative long-term timeline:

    • Work with kindergarten teachers to develop a plan for implementing full-day kindergarten.
    • Begin Gemini construction (possibly spring 2018).
    • Gather feedback from preschool staff regarding design of the new preschool.
    • Work with architects to develop plans for the new preschool.
    • Work with District staff on the process for transferring 6th grade staff to Gemini.
    • Begin First Steps Preschool construction (possibly spring 2019).
    • Move 6th grade into the new addition at Gemini; change the name to Gemini Middle School (possibly Fall 2019).
    • Launch full-day kindergarten (possibly Fall 2019).
    • Undertake a study to redraw district attendance boundaries.
    • Hold parent/community meetings regarding the plan for new attendance boundaries.
    • Open new First Steps Preschool facility (possibly fall 2020).
    • Implement new attendance boundaries (possibly fall 2020).