Residents sought for new Lyseth building committee

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PORTLAND — The School Board is now seeking members of the community interested in serving on Lyseth Elementary School’s new Building Level Advisory Committee.

The renovation of Lyseth will be the first project tackled under a multiyear, $64 million capital bond designed to significantly upgrade four schools across the district. The other three schools are Longfellow, Presumpscot and Reiche.

The priority is to appoint committee members who will be the end-users of the updated and renovated school, according to the School Department. The deadline for applying is 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26.

Applications are available on the district’s website at www.portlandschools.org.

In addition, the School Department is hosting a school construction informational meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30th in the Lyseth gym. Learn about the proposed work schedule and ask questions.

The Lyseth project is expected to cost nearly $18 million and would include new classrooms, a gym and cafeteria and additional space for the school’s pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and gifted and talented programs.

At-large School Board member Roberto Rodriguez said having a local building committee to help make decisions on the school renovation is critical to both “enhancing the transparency of the overall process and (the ability) to gather critical input from key stakeholders.”

In all, the Lyseth building committee will have up to 16 members, including two co-chairs appointed by School Board Chairwoman Anna Trevorrow. The chairpersons will represent the board and the City Council, respectively.

In addition, committee membership will include the school principal or assistant principal, three staff members chosen by Superintendent Xavier Botana and a minimum of seven residents from the neighborhood. Up to three at-large members of the public will also be appointed.

This setup mirrors the larger district-wide Building Committee created by the School Board this past winter to oversee all four school construction projects. While the two committees will have input into the design process, ultimately all such decisions will require a vote by the School Board.

The Building Level Advisory Committee will offer advice and recommendations on school-specific construction issues such as traffic flow, the location of key features, such as the cafeteria, gym and classroom wings, paint colors, furniture needs and art installations, Rodriguez said.

“Additionally, (it’s hoped) that these individuals will communicate about the progress and details of the projects” to the wider community, he said. Members of the local building committee would also be expected to serve for the duration of the project.

The Harriman firm has been chosen to design the project and Rodriguez said architects there plan to meet regularly with the Building Level Advisory Committee to discuss issues such the placement of mechanical systems, the design of interior spaces, overall floor plans, finishes and more.

In describing the need to appoint a local building committee for each school to be renovated, Botana told the School Board this past January that the idea is to create a group of people “who are deeply connected” to the school community.

The ultimate hope is “to create a clear line of decision-making,” while also “preserving Portland’s unique commitment to collaborative building projects,” Botana said at the time.

If all goes as planned, the school district would break ground on the Lyseth project sometime this winter.

In May the School Board agreed with a recommendation from Botana to start the school construction process with Lyseth Elementary. Part of the reasoning for that decision was that it’s considered to be in the best condition of all the schools scheduled for upgrades.

It’s important that “we get off the ground with a project that is successful,” Botana told the School Board at the time. He said because Lyseth is the easiest and most straightforward of the construction projects, it would lay a strong foundation for the remainder of the work to follow.

Botana said the recommendation to begin with Lyseth was “based on a variety of relevant criteria (including) the added square footage, the number of students impacted, the cost of the project, the quality of the current building for 21st Century learning (and) the relative ease of construction,” among others.

This story was updated to add information about the Oct. 30 construction meeting.

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

The Portland School Board is looking for residents who want to serve on Lyseth Elementary School’s new Building Level Advisory Committee. Members will have input into the design of a nearly $18 million renovation project expected to get underway this winter.

Students at Lyseth Elementary School will be the first to benefit from a four-school, $64 million capital bond approved by Portland voters in November 2017. The renvoation of Lyseth school includes new classrooms and common space, such as a gym and cafeteria.

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