The Portland City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to form a committee to study a $70.6 million proposal to improve four elementary schools that have not been updated in nearly 50 years.

Councilors said the committee is needed to build consensus for the projects among the community and council members. Seven of the nine council members would have to approve the bond for it to appear on a city ballot.

The decision makes it unlikely that the bond would go to city voters in November.

“I think this is a good approach,” said Councilor Nicholas Mavodones. “There need to be seven people sitting around that dais who feel comfortable about that number. I think that’s important that we all think about that.”

Parents and school board members largely supported creating the ad hoc committee, but wanted to make sure the process is not delayed – Portland schools have been studied repeatedly over the years, at considerable cost.

“These task forces have all found the same thing over and over and over,” said Emily Figdor, a parent and co-founder of the Protect Our Neighborhood Schools group, which has been pushing for a vote on the bond in November. “Our schools don’t meet educational standards and need to be updated. The city has been considering this for a long time. It’s time to put this to voters and let them decide.”

The order to establish the committee was co-sponsored by Mavodones, chair of the Finance Committee, and Mayor Ethan Strimling, who has also pushed for a November vote. Typically, bond requests are sent to a council subcommittee.

Several board members and parents suggested setting a deadline for the panel to complete its work.

“I just want to move this along,” said school board member Sarah Thompson. “I just think this is way overdue.”

But the council did not set a deadline, and Mavodones said the bond proposal is not likely to make the November ballot – the council would have to approve the bond by its first meeting in September for it to go to a vote in November. But the council could call a special election once the committee’s work is complete, Mavodones said.

School board members backed the $70.6 million bond proposal by a 6-2 vote on June 21, rejecting a last-minute proposal to reduce the request to $40.3 million – a figure Thompson believed the council would find more palatable. The lower figure would have meant fewer improvements to Lyseth and Presumpscot elementary schools. The other two are Reiche and Longfellow elementary schools.

Strimling said the council will likely hold a workshop July 18 on the $70.6 million bond proposal. He said he’d support having the committee then set a timeline for completing its work.

The ad hoc committee, consisting of four councilors and four school board members, would then review details of the proposal. Any changes would be sent back to the school board for a formal endorsement. Any recommendations by the school board would be sent back to the ad hoc committee before being sent to the council’s Finance Committee and ultimately the full council.

The four council committee members are Strimling (co-chair), Mavodones, David Brenerman and Justin Costa. The four school board members are Marnie Morrione (co-chair), Stephanie Hatzenbuehler, Sarah Thompson and Anna Trevorrow.