Portland School Board set to appoint 6 residents to Building Committee

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PORTLAND — The School Board Tuesday is expected to approve six at-large members of the new four-school Building Committee.

The nomination process has been contentious, but the six residents selected by the Appointments Committee have now been vetted and meet the criteria initially laid out by the School Board, according to Superintendent of Schools Xavier Botana.

The six will join School Board members Laurie Davis, Roberto Rodriguez and Sarah Thompson and City Councilors Justin Costa and Belinda Ray on the panel charged with making recommendations for upgrading four of the city’s elementary schools with a $64 million bond approved last November.

Ray’s appointment to the Building Committee was controversial because she did not support the bond question when it went before voters.

When she was appointed to the Building Committee in late January, however, Ray said the decision about how to pay for fixes at Longfellow, Lyseth, Presumpscot and Reiche schools had already been made and her goal now is to see the process through to a successful conclusion.

The six residents selected to serve on the committee are Abigail Fuller, Hamza Haadoow, Jennifer Hunter, Jessica Marino, Jay Norris and Matthew Winch.

They were among a group of nearly 30 who submitted applications, according to a memo provided to the School Board by Botana prior to the Feb. 27 meeting.

The Appointments Committee, composed of School Board members Mark Balfantz, Marnie Morrione and Thompson, met four times to consider the applicants, according to Botana.

The six were chosen to serve based on their narrative response to the question of why they wished to be on the Building Committee, Botana said. Other criteria, he said, included having diverse viewpoints and perspectives, including in terms of gender and background.

Fuller served as a volunteer on the campaign to pass the four-school bond, and has two children at Lyseth and one at Portland High School.

Haadoow has nine children in the Portland Public Schools, including at Presumpscot Elementary. “He is passionate about improving the Portland schools for all learners,” Botana said in the memo.

Hunter teaches Spanish at Sanford High School and has a child at King Middle School. Marino was noted as a passionate and long-standing advocate for making capital improvements to the city’s schools.

“Her main objectives … (are) that we meet the educational needs of students and educators while maintaining walkable neighborhood schools that help to strengthen our communities,” the memo said.

Professionally, Marino has also worked as a speech language pathologist for the School Department, particularly in pre-kindergarten classrooms. She also has three children, one of whom attends Longfellow Elementary.

Norris is a professional project manager with a 20-year career in managing construction and technology infrastructure projects, according to the memo. He is not a school parent, but believes he offers “a set of unique qualifications and experiences.”

Winch has three children, two of whom attend Lyseth. His youngest is not yet in school and Winch said that gives him a “long-term vested interest in the outcome.”

He also “truly believes that these schools are a fundamental cornerstone … of the school district and the city overall,” the memo said.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

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