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March 6, 2014

Study: Windham faces $16M in school facility expenses

Windham expected to spend a lot on school improvements

WINDHAM — A study of Windham schools concluded the district needs to put $16 million into building upkeep.

“In short, there is roughly $16 million worth of capital projects outlined for the next 20 fiscal years,” business administrator Adam Steel said in a report provided to the School Board on Tuesday night. “On average, projects of between $750,000 and $800,000 will need to be performed each year to keep pace with the proposed plan.”

The analysis came from Boston-based On-Site Insight; it involved looking at all the schools and the school district offices. Steel then took a look at how best it might work within district finances.

“It has really accomplished what I’d hope it would accomplish,” Superintendent Winfried Feneberg told the board.

Feneberg said he wanted a 20-year plan to take care of the district’s physical needs and capital assets.

He acknowledged the plan is separate from whatever capacity strategy that officials decide to pursue, but clearly tied.

“Both of those need to go in tandem,” he said.

The board didn’t move forward on any of the projects, but administrators set the table for more discussion.

Steel said he would recommend the board seek to establish a capital reserve fund in a future election cycle, with $675,000 to start and with money added annually.

He outlined a process where officials would each year review and schedule projects, possibly making adjustments based on available funding.

Another consideration would be whether multiple projects might be accomplished at a single school in a given year, he said.

School Board members didn’t find any bombshells in the report.

“I didn’t say anything that surprised me,” School Board Chairman Mike Joanis said.

Meanwhile, the board heard a positive report on high school testing results from the superintendent and principal Ryan Kaplan.

Windham students beat the statewide performance across the board in reading, math and writing.

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