The new South Portland Middle School serves grade five through eight in a single, consolidated school. The inclusion of fifth grade freed up space in the elementary schools, allowing for the expansion of the district’s pre-K and kindergarten programs. The planning process for this $58 million school was comprised of facilities assessments, new vs. renovation analysis, site selection consultation, and concept development. This included several public meetings to share information, air concerns, and develop ideas. The site selection was overwhelmingly approved by local voters in a straw vote in Summer 2018 and the concept design was approved in Summer 2019.
The new school includes academic wings separated by grades, with shared spaces for art, STEM, library, dining, and gym activities. Interior room signage and paint colors by floor assist with wayfinding. New furnishings and multiple visual displays allow flexibility for classroom layout from traditional seating to small group work, as well as offering students choice for seating style preference. Each academic wing features a widened corridor to accommodate small school community gatherings. A multi-purpose room functions as an auxiliary space for gym classes, stage performances, and large gatherings.
The new middle school looks to the future with sustainable features including a geothermal system, rainwater collection for irrigation, solar power, solar thermal, and electric vehicle charging stations. To conserve space on the site, the building was designed to go up rather than to sprawl out across the site. This kept the school footprint small and preserved green space around the building. The school also includes a nod to the past with a time capsule; creative reuse of salvaged gym flooring from the old middle school serves as wall cladding.