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March 6, 2013

Pelham to decide kindergarten addition

PELHAM — A $1.7 million kindergarten project and an $895,000 Town Hall renovation are before voters on the Town Meeting ballot Tuesday.

Both projects aim to address school district needs.

The four-room kindergarten addition proposed at Pelham Elementary School is slated for completion Dec. 1, if voters approve. Officials hope to use about $1 million in state aid for the project.

“Adding the four classrooms to Pelham Elementary School solves the kindergarten space issue for the foreseeable future,” School Board Chairman Brian Carton said. “Doing so will allow us to remove the portable that’s in place now, which we currently rent for about $120,000 a year.”

Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, who represents Pelham, recently told the School Board that Pelham is one of just two towns in the state that may tap kindergarten aid.

“The governor has included this in the capital budget, which is a good sign,” Morse said yesterday.

Carton said that should put the town in a better place for state aid.

“We’ve budgeted for only $1 million in state aid, so there is some hope we might get even more funding from the state than anticipated,” he said.

A simple majority vote is required for passage.

The Town Hall renovation would provide offices for School Administrative Unit 28 administrators, relocating from Windham with the coming breakup of the two-town district.

Pelham becomes a standalone SAU on July 1. Windham then becomes the new SAU 95.

Superintendent-elect Amanda Lecaroz, who takes over from the retiring Henry LaBranche in July, has said the town could end up spending about as much for leased office space, if voters reject the Town Hall renovation.

Three-fifths voter approval is required for passage.

The proposed $27.5 million school budget includes $75,000 to design a high school addition for voters to consider next year.

A $13 million town budget also is before voters.

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