Here’s what you had to say about the conditions of Portland elementary schools

Last week, we got a look inside two of the aging elementary schools that Portland city officials are considering renovating.

The city has been grappling with how to pay for improvements to the schools’ aging infrastructure for nearly two decades, and some of you had strong reactions to photos showing the conditions in the Presumpscot and Lyseth elementary schools.

Here’s a selection of your comments: 

One commenter was shocked that double-wide trailers — set up as temporary classrooms — were still in use.

Noah Sleeper: “Those are STILL there?!”

Then there was the question about how to pay for the renovations.

Patrick Moran: “Well they are going to have to pass this along to their property tax payers- It would be ridiculous to ask the rest of the state to pay for it.”

One commenter said not addressing problems immediately just makes things worse.

Mark Burns Springer: “Sometimes the biggest threats are the hardest to see. They develop slowly, perhaps nearly imperceptibly, like a tree root gradually displacing a sidewalk. One day, you realize the place where you live is permanently transformed unless someone fixes it. It’s not a surprise but a greater awareness.

“The fact that Maine’s population growth rate has slowed to stagnation is not a surprise. The question is whether Maine lawmakers and others are fully aware of the implications, to the point where they will commit to fixing the problem.”

One questioned the priorities of a culture that underfunds schools.  

Dirigo Blue: “This is hardly just a Portland problem. Many rural districts have it much worse. It’s a question that we as a society need to answer – how important are well funded schools to our nation?

“As an architect, I’ve worked on more than a few public school projects – in my experience, this is a common problem statewide. Some of it can be blamed on lack of maintenance, as school boards see cutting that line item as easy compared to other potential budget cuts.”

And someone else said that the city should worry more about quality teachers and supplies than the buildings themselves.

George Picklewalker: “… Get it together people. The buildings are only there to house the students while they get an education. They aren’t there for sports, they aren’t there for pride, they aren’t there to impress anyone other than those who push to spend exhorbitant amounts of money on the building while ignoring the really important part of getting an education; quality teachers and supplies/materials. I’d support buying computers for every student LONG before I supported putting up a new $60,000,000 building. Good gosh!”