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Lewis School first in area to receive bonds improvements

by: RITA A. LEONARD - Lewis School Principal Tim Lauer shows new seedlings growing in the greenhouse of the schools Learning Garden.Students and staff at Meriwether Lewis Elementary School in Woodstock look forward to the building improvements that are scheduled to begin in mid-June. Work will be performed with funds from the school building improvement bond passed by voters last November.

This spring, C. J. Sylvester, Chief Operating Officer for Portland Schools, said the bond “Gives all Portlanders an historic chance to re-imagine how our schools create learning spaces that help our students and teachers do their best work.”

Lewis is one of the five schools scheduled to be first in line for building improvements. The District plans to fix leaking roofs, upgrade access, and make seismic improvements. Lewis Secretary Tracy Buckley advised, “We’re going to be getting a new roof, and improvements to our boiler. We don’t require any access improvements, since we're already ADA-approved [Americans with Disabilities Act].”

Lewis School was built in 1952, and Principal Tim Lauer says the leaking roof definitely needs replacement. The $482 million bond will afford much-needed repairs to the building in which are instructed some 400 students. Sylvester remarked, “Portland’s schools are cornerstones of our community. The schools we rebuild today will be great sources of pride for generations to come.”

Community input meetings gave a chance to re-imagine how school buildings could support partnerships with community organizations, students, and neighbors who use schools every day for sports, meetings, and performances. Lewis school is used extensively for PTA activities, Garden Fairs, family events, community dinners focused on the school's garden curriculum, and the annual Holiday Art and Gift Bazaar, among other things.

Lauer revealed that work would commence about a week after school is out for the summer. “Crews will construct a fence around the building, and repair sections [of the building] one at a time – ripping off old roofing, checking for underlying structural repairs, and replacing the roofing with new layered-on material,” he said.

“Workers have assured us they'll be very careful with our Learning Garden. They’ll replace our old oil burner with a new gas model, and will lower the chimney as a form of seismic upgrade. They'll be able to complete work quickly, since there will be no programs going on at Lewis during the summer.”

Lauer added that the school is also hoping to do a depaving project on the playground during summer. “We've applied for an East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District grant to ‘green up’ the playground on the east side of the building,” he said. “We’re planning to install a bioswale to improve drainage, and we’ll plant some trees there, too. It should improve the look of the playground, and offer more learning opportunities for students.”