The Portland School Board voted 8-1 late Tuesday to approve a $12 million renovation of Lyseth Elementary School, the first of four elementary schools to be renovated under a $64 million four-school bond approved by voters.

Construction on the two-year plus project is scheduled to begin this spring.

Laurie Davis voted against the project after learning from the architect that only 30 percent of the newly renovated school would be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified – meaning that a building was designed with features aimed at saving energy, increasing water efficiency and reducing carbon monoxide emissions.

Mark Lee, an associate principal at Harriman, the project architects, estimated it could cost an additional $1.5 to $2 million to make the entire building energy efficient, but most board members seemed to agree that there was not enough money available.

“I believe we can do better,” Davis said. “I want more for our students and for our community.”

The overhaul includes adding a new gym with performance space; a new library; a reconfigured front entrance with upgraded security; upgraded utility systems and security throughout; and renovated walls and interior spaces. No major reconfiguration of classroom space is proposed.

The plan doesn’t include the estimated $1.3 million needed for parking lot improvements, which officials say could be financed with bond contingency funds, district capital improvement funds or some combination.

The other Portland schools approved for renovation under the bond are Presumpscot, Reiche and Longfellow. The board has not determined the order in which they will be renovated.


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