By John Toole
---- — WINDHAM — Voters consider a $31 million middle school project and settle contested races for School Board and selectman next week.
The two-story middle school would be built off London Bridge Road, near the high school. The project includes funding for athletic fields both schools could use.
The school would open in 2015, if voters approve the project. Three-fifths voter approval is required for passage.
The issue is dividing the School Board candidates, incumbent Chairman Bruce Anderson and his challenger, former Selectman Dennis Senibaldi.
Anderson supports the project. Senibaldi is opposed and would prefer the town expand the existing middle school.
Both candidates for selectman — former School Board member Al Letizio Jr. and former Selectman Alan Carpenter — agree on building the proposed middle school.
The School Board and selectmen races are for three-year terms.
The other contest is a four-way battle for three three-year terms on the library trustees.
Incumbent Patricia Barstow and former trustee Anne-Marie O’Neil are in the race, as are Catherine Robertson-Souter and Mimi Kolodziej.
Besides the middle school, voters have other big spending questions.
A $45.6 million school budget and a $13 million town budget are before voters.
They also will consider $101,000 in renovations for the Searles Building and $175,000 for a five-ton highway truck. A $140,000 grant from the state would help pay for the truck.
Fire Chief Tom McPherson is appealing to voters to approve the purchase of more than $200,000 in breathing gear for firefighters.
Voters approved a similar question last year in connection with a federal grant request. However, the grant was denied.
This year the Fire Department is again requesting federal aid that could reduce the town’s burden to about $10,000.
“Even though the department has, once again, applied for federal assistance, this equipment is requested regardless of whether or not these funds are awarded,” McPherson said in a letter to residents.
McPherson said new equipment is needed. Existing gear doesn’t meet new standards and is showing wear and tear, he said.
More than a dozen zoning issues are before voters, including one intended to guide development of a mixed-use Village Center District.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Windham High, 64 London Bridge Road.
Detailed information about warrant questions is available at windhamnewhampshire.com and windhamsd.org.