Building for Success: District 63 Facilities Master Plan
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.
- 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.
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 BoundariesTo relieve overcrowding, attendance boundaries will be redrawn. Here's how it works:
Costs and Funding
- 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.
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.
- Adding an addition to Gemini to accommodate 6th graders: $15 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 of 2017, District 63 will:
- Work with the District’s architects to develop plans for the Gemini addition.
- Gather feedback from staff about the design of the Gemini addition.
- Meet with parent groups at each school to share the plan and gather feedback.
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).