LYME/OLD LYME — The Board of Education is looking for applicants to serve on a building committee that will be responsible for overseeing the $57.5 million school renovation project that was approved by voters in a referendum on November 8.
The project will replace boilers, HVAC and make code upgrades to four of the district’s five schools: Lyme Consolidated School, Mile Creek Elementary School, Center School and Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School. It also includes an expansion to Mile Creek Elementary School.
According to the building committee charter, the committee can be composed of 9 to 15 members, at least one of whom must have experience in construction. Board Chair Steve Wilson said the Board had 12 people proposed for appointment to the committee, although he said he anticipated not all of them would be able to participate.
At a meeting on Wednesday, members of the public asked the committee to create an open application process.
“There should be opportunity for the community to be involved in this project, and there should be a variety of voices at that table,” said Kim Thompson, who added that she was concerned the board might choose people already well-known and involved in the community, preventing other, newer people from lending their expertise.
“Offering the opportunity for new qualified voices to be heard would also be very beneficial to this community,” she said.
The board has placed an application for community members on the school website, which asks people to fill out information about themselves and their backgrounds. The Board then plans to go through the applications, with each Board member selecting their top 9 candidates. They will hold a meeting in January to decide who will ultimately be part of the committee. The Board is seeking a committee of 9 people with two alternates.
Board member Jenn Miller said she felt it was important to include a mix of people who have experience in construction, finance, and other areas.
“The construct of the team needs to be that it’s going to have a good team dynamic,” she said.
The committee’s first tasks will include considering and possibly recommending an owner’s representative and project manager, recommending an architect and a construction manager. They will then oversee the project as it goes forward.
“Literally, they will go through every bill and change-order that comes up. They will review plans that the architect provides,” said Superintendent Ian Neviaser.
Neviaser said he wanted to get the process moving as quickly as possible. He said he had applied for two time-sensitive state grants: a “renovate-as-new” grant for Mile Creek and the state HVAC replacement grant for the other schools. Nevaiser said that the HVAC replacement grant requires all construction to be completed by 2024.
“That’s a very tight timeline,” he said, although he added that he believed the state would continue to offer similar grants each year.
Neviaser said that in January the committee would meet to create an RFQ for an architect, and that once the construction began, meetings would become more frequent. He said he anticipated meeting once a month for two to three hours per meeting, and that these meetings would last over the course of three years. According to the charter, a building committee member cannot miss more than four consecutive meetings.
Applications to be part of the building committee are due December 23rd. The application can be found here.