EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

October 25, 2012

Windham School Board seeks residents' input

WINDHAM – The School Board plans to ask citizens next week whether they prefer expanding the middle school or building a new one.

A public hearing will review where officials stand on facilities planning. While this won’t be the final word, the board is eager to hear from residents because voters at Town Meeting overwhelmingly rejected spending for design fees for a new middle school.

The hearing is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the high school auditorium, 64 London Bridge Road.

A new middle school, to be built off London Bridge Road near the high school, has a projected cost of just under $30 million.

A phased expansion of the middle school would cost just under $10 million to start for a three-story addition that would include 14 classrooms to relieve crowding.

“There are a couple of paths we can take to solve our facility needs,” School Board chairman Bruce Anderson said. “We want the public to see where we are. We want to lay out the options and see what the public has to say.”

He said he doesn’t expect any decisions from the School Board next week. It’s likely when the board chooses a path the first step would be to again ask voters through Town Meeting for engineering and architectural fees.

A proposal to spend more than $700,000 for design fees for a new middle school was voted down in March, 2,056-866.

A survey conducted by school officials after the vote showed most respondents opposed the spending because they didn’t want their taxes to go up or didn’t believe the town needed a new school.

But their responses in the survey also showed nearly 60 percent found class sizes at the middle school “very concerning” and 65 percent were troubled by the lack of true science labs at the school.

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