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February 8, 2014

Pelham sends $22.6M school project to ballot

PELHAM — Voters sent a $22.6 million high school renovation and expansion project to Town Meeting last night.

“It’s a significant remodeling,” School Board Chairman Brian Carton told voters.

About 100 people attended the school deliberative session in Sherburne Hall.

Carton said the expansion would add 29 classrooms, accommodate enrollment of 800 to 900, could be expanded in the future, and would include a 240-seat auditorium the community also could use.

The project would take care of all issues raised during school accreditation, Carton said.

The project, slated for completion by the start of the 2016-2017 school year, would alleviate crowding, he said. “It is overcrowded.”

The tax impact would be $125 in the first year for the $292,000 average value home in town, he said.

The school expansion has the unanimous backing of the School Board. The Budget Committee recommended approval on a 10-1 vote.

Because a bond issue would finance the project, three-fifths voter approval will be required at Town Meeting on March 11.

Selectman Hal Lynde encouraged voters to approve the project.

“This is going to benefit you. It is going to benefit the town,” Lynde said. “Get your neighbors to support it and get them out to vote.”

Jill Marcoux, who said she is the mother of two high school students, urged passage, even though her own children will graduate before it is done.

“I’m here because this project is important for our community,” she said. “Let’s do it. Let’s get it done.”

Resident Linda Leonard, who has four young children who could attend the high school, in an interview described the project as “huge” for the town.

“This is a great community and we want to say here,” Leonard said. “I couldn’t be more excited about the project.”

Voters also sent along to Town Meeting a $27.6 million school budget.

Also bound for voter consideration at the ballot box are contracts for teachers and education support personnel.

FIrst-year costs are $185,216 for the teacher pact and $89,292 for the education aides.

The School Board and Budget Committee are both recommending approval of the contracts.

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