PELHAM — Facility committee members said it would cost several million dollars less for the district to build a high school at a new site than it would to renovate and add to the current school.

The High School Building Committee voted unanimously Monday, with one abstention, to recommend the $49 million new school option to the School Board.

The $49 million includes the cost of buying land and building the school. The committee chairman, Sean Minuti, said the district knows of several parcels suitable for the school.

The price tag also includes funding for permanent kindergarten facilities.

The committee also took a separate vote on the renovation option, estimated at $53 million, and unanimously voted it down, he said.

The option called for renovating and adding to the high school, as well as relocating athletic fields. The proposal also included construction of a fourth school, either a middle or elementary school.

"We spent a lot of time studying the renovation to see if it could be done for less cost and with less trouble," Minuti said.

Those troubles, shifting students around to new locations while the renovation was taking place, were deemed considerable.

Committee members have been studying the school's space needs since August. The high school is overcrowded and plagued by noise and substandard classrooms, including science labs. The district has been warned by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges that its accreditation is in jeopardy due to space and equipment deficiencies at the school.

Committee member Hal Lynde, also a selectman, said cost was the deciding factor in his decision to support the new school recommendation as opposed to the renovation.

"The overall cost to the town is less than the other option," Lynde said.

In the coming weeks, the facilities committee will present its recommendation to the School Board, which, at some point, would decide whether to propose it to the public in March.

Residents have twice rejected proposals to solve the district's high-school space needs.

Voters rejected a proposed regional high school with Windham in 2004, and defeated a proposed high school last year.


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