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December 30, 2013

$100M in school projects bound for N.H. voters

More than $100 million in school construction projects are expected before New Hampshire voters at Town Meeting in March.

A proposed $74.7 million bond issue in Salem to renovate Salem High and its Career and Technical Education Center tops the list.

"We're hoping for a positive vote," School Board member Peter Morgan said.

School officials will air details during a Jan. 16 forum at 6 p.m. at the high school.

The high school's aging infrastructure and the fact interest rates are low are two good reasons why the project makes sense now, Morgan said.

But there's another reason.

"We have nearly $11 million set aside for it by the state to do the Career and Technical Education Center," he said.

"That is there waiting for us to pass the bond and it is only there this year and next year," Morgan said.

"The iron is hot. We need to strike now," he said.

A $22.6 million expansion and remodeling at Pelham High is coming before voters with the backing of both the School Board and Budget Committee.

The proposed two-story addition includes a 240-seat auditorium the community will be able to use.

Superintendent Amanda Lecaroz, appearing before the Budget Committee last month, said the School Board had reduced project costs below an initial $24 million estimate.

The goal of the project is to meet the school's facility needs for at least 10 to 15 years, she said.

"The facilities concerns at Pelham High School are well known and well documented and most people in town agree that those concerns need to be resolved," School Board chairman Brian Carton said.

The plan addresses facility issues raised by an accreditation report but also brings real value through the auditorium, parking and security improvements, he said.

"We certainly hope that voters will take a close look at the project and support it in March," Carton said.

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