EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 11, 2014

Campaign ramps up for Pelham High expansion

By John Toole

---- — PELHAM — Voters will have at least a half-dozen opportunities to learn about the proposed $22.6 million high school renovation and expansion project in the coming weeks.

One is today at Pelham Public Library.

It’s part of the school district’s “Great Conversation” series, launched last year to let people learn about the school system and education programs.

But more are coming.

The district is hosting two informational forums at the high school.

The local school advocacy group, Pelham ACES, or Awareness for Community and Education Support, is organizing some neighborhood meetings.

“The high school forums are to educate the public on the Pelham High School addition-remodel project so they have accurate information to make a decision about the bond article before them in March,” Superintendent Amanda Lecaroz said.

School Board vice chairwoman Deb Ryan said this is a good way for residents to find out details about the project and why officials are recommending expansion of the high school.

“You will get the facts,” Ryan said.

People also will learn why expansion, ruled out in the past, is now possible.

One reason, Ryan said, is that state building aid is not used in the project. When available in the past, that came with requirements linking acreage and enrollment.

Another is the location of the addition, on the front of the school, will resolve concerns about the septic system, she said.

The expansion will accomodate enrollment for many years, Ryan said.

“I would say this takes us beyond 10 years,” she said.

It also will provide a 240-seat theater for use both by the school and community, she said.

“We’re excited by the project,” Ryan said.

The timing is right.

“We can get favorable financing and good construction bids,” she said.

Ryan said the school district also plans to send voters an informational brochure before Town Meeting.

“We’re trying to leave no stone unturned,” she said.

She concedes passing the bond issue will be a challenge. Three-fifths voter approval is needed.

Here is a list of upcoming forums:

* Today, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Pelham Public Library

* Thursday, 6:30 to 8 p.m., First Congregational Church

* Thursday, Jan. 23, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Pelham Public Library

* Thursday, Jan. 30, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Pelham High School

* Wednesday, Feb. 5, 6:30 p.m., School Deliberative Session, Sherburne Hall

* Tuesday, Feb. 18, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Pelham High School

Town Meeting is March 11.

Information also is available at supportpelhamhigh.org, pelhamaces.org and pelhamsd.org.