EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 2, 2012

School district administrators need office space

By John Toole jtoole@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — PELHAM – Selectmen will send a proposal to the town warrant to spend up to $600,000 to renovate Town Hall for SAU 28 offices.

Windham's decision to leave and form its own SAU is forcing Pelham school officials to find new offices in town for the SAU administrators.

Selectmen's Chairman William McDevitt said the board this week voted unanimously — at the urging of school officials — to support the plan and put the spending question before voters at Town Meeting.

Town Hall itself was converted from the former Sherburne School and school officials are looking to renovate six former classrooms untouched in that renovation.

However, those classrooms have issues. The electrical system, for example, is antiquated and needs updating, and the rooms lack air conditioning.

McDevitt said school officials are using a "high" figure for the project, based on an architect's preliminary review.

"They believe the actual cost will be considerably less," he said.

"The $600,000 was indicative pricing and we know we can come in lower," School Board member Andy Ducharme said.

Ducharme, School Board member Rob Hardy and Superintendent-elect Amanda Lecaroz have been looking at options with selectmen.

Ducharme said he sees working with selectmen as key to passing a warrant article. "

We worked well together last year and we saw that a majority of the town's and school's warrant articles were passed," Ducharme said. "Working with the Board of Selectmen on this project will not only save the taxpayers money but also (put) all the senior management together in one location and utilize town property that is available."

The Budget Committee has yet to review the proposal and details, including ballot question language and financing, remain to be worked out. Selectman Robert Haverty will be working with school officials on those issues.

Windham becomes SAU 95 on July 1.

Superintendent Henry LaBranche told the School Board recently that administrators from Pelham and Windham can continue to share office space temporarily in Windham while Town Hall is renovated for SAU 28.