School Board member knows Songo Locks portable situation firsthand

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — School board member Tuan Nguyen put a personal spin on his presentation about the proposed $8 million Crooked River School Additions and Renovation project.

After all, he had a child in fifth grade — the student body that has its classrooms in portables linked by walkways outside of the Songo Locks School (SLS).

“My son was in fifth grade last year,” he said, adding that teachers, students and parents fondly refer to the area where the portables are located as “Fifth Avenue.”

“The new portables — they removed the playground and took away the basketball court to make room for them,” he said. “It took some getting used to.”

“He had to leave the portables and walk across the parking lot for lunch, for gym, for health class, for anything that was held at the school,” he said.

Because of the number of students at the school and the size of the cafeteria, the school holds five lunch periods, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“My son had lunch at 1 p.m. He got on the bus at 7 a.m. He went six hours without eating. If you knew my son, you wouldn’t want to be around him when he’s hungry,” he said.

Another major drawback for students in the portables is that they feel isolated from the rest of the school, Nguyen said.

At Songo Locks School, the district spends more than $108,000 a year on renting portables, he said.

Another shocker: Half of the student body is in those portables. There are 475 students registered at SLS, and approximately 250 are being taught inside portables.

Supporting the CRS construction project is one way to eliminate the need for portables, Nguyen said. Also, it would eliminate the annual expense to lease the units, which doesn’t include minor maintenance or major upkeep like a roof replacement, he said.

Nguyen is a resident of Casco and a school board representative for School Administrative District (SAD) 61. Nguyen provided the bullet points about the CRS project during the Casco selectmen’s meeting. Similar presentations occurred at Bridgton and Naples selectmen’s meetings last week as well.

For those individuals who are curious about the interior of the Crooked River School, there will be an open house on Thursday, Jan. 24, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

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