Windham LINK has prepared a series of articles that review the 2017 School District Warrant and Budget. We hope that this will help you make an informed decision on Election Day, March 14, 2017.
Warrant Article 4
This Warrant Article asks voters to approve $345K for the purpose of a natural grass athletic field at Windham Middle School (WMS) as part of the Golden Brook School (GBS) reconstruction and WMS renovation project. The proposed reconstruction and renovation project is known as Warrant Article 2.
What it Means
The existing area behind WMS, which is currently used as a leaching field, would be repurposed as an athletic field for soccer and lacrosse.
What We Get If Article 2 Passes
IMPORTANT NOTE: If Article 2 fails (does not pass), Article 4 becomes null and void. This is not a stand-alone addition of a soccer field at WMS. This is considered an “add-on” should Warrant Article 2 pass and must be approved by voters.
Tax impact of the first full year of the bond or note to be $0.01 per thousand of property valuation (per District voter’s guide). For a home valued at $350,000 the tax impact would be $3.50 for the first full year of the bond or note. For a home valued at $500,000, the tax impact would be $5.00 for the first full year.
Article 4 warrant language as of 3/3/2017:
“Shall the Windham School District raise and appropriate the sum of $345,000 for the purpose of an athletic field expansion at the Middle School; and to authorize the issuance of not more than $345,000 of bonds or notes under and in compliance with the Municipal Finance Act, RSA 33:1 et seq., as amended; and to authorize the School Board to apply for, obtain and accept federal, state or other aid, if any, which may be available for said project and to comply with all laws applicable to said project; and to authorize the School Board to issue, negotiate, sell and deliver said bonds and notes and to determine the rate of interest thereon and the maturity and other terms thereof; and authorize the School Board to take any other action to carry out this vote; and to further raise and appropriate the additional sum of $6,571.77 for the first year’s payment on the bonds or notes?” If Article 2 does not pass, this article shall be null and void.
Sources: Windham Local School New Hampshire Warrant and Budget 2017 - January 27, 2017, Windham School District Deliberative Session - February 10, 2017, Windham School District 2017 Voter’s Guide - February 21, 2017 and March 3, 2017 mailer, Windham School Board meeting presentations by architects, engineers and construction managers - 2016-2017.
Windham LINK to Education has prepared a series of articles that review the 2017 School District Warrant and Budget. We hope that this will help you make an informed decision on Election Day, March 14, 2017.
Warrant Article 3
This Warrant Article asks voters to approve $547K for the expansion of the new gym proposed in the Golden Brook School (GBS) reconstruction project. The proposed GBS reconstruction is presented in Warrant Article 2.
New GBS Gym as is included in Warrant Article 2 compared to new GBS Gym with expansion provided for in Article 3:
Included in Article 2 Expansion with Article 3
7,000 square feet 9,009 square feet
One basketball court Two basketball courts
No bleachers Bleachers for 500 people
If Article 3 passes, the proposed GBS gym included in Article 2 would be expanded to increase the capacity for school athletic practices and games, as well as provide additional courts for Town Recreation programs.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If Article 2 does not pass, Article 3 becomes null and void. This is not a stand-alone improvement to the current gym at Golden Brook School. This is considered an “add-on” should Warrant Article 2 pass.
The tax impact for the first full year of the bond or note will be $0.02 per thousand of property valuation. For a home valued at $350,000 the tax impact would be $7 for the first full year of the bond or note. For a home valued at $500,000, the tax impact would be $10 for the first full year.
Other Warrant Articles
Warrant Article 4 is directly linked to Warrant Article 2, and provides for enhancements to Warrant Article 2. Stay tuned for our summary of Warrant Article 4, the addition of a soccer field at Windham Middle School, and other Articles including the purchase of land adjacent to GBS, addressing the traffic issue at Windham Center School, contracts, and establishing a Special Education Capital Reserve Fund.
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Article 3 warrant language as of 2/28/2017:
“Shall the Windham School District vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $547,000 for the purpose of an approximately 2,000 square foot expansion of the gym at Golden Brook School; and authorize the issuance of not more than $547,000 of bonds or notes under and in compliance with the Municipal Finance Act, RSA 33:1 et seq., as amended; and to authorize the School Board to apply for, obtain and accept federal, state or other aid, if any, which may be available for said project and to comply with all laws applicable to said project; and to authorize the School Board to issue, negotiate, sell and deliver said bonds and notes and to determine the rate of interest thereon and the maturity and other terms thereof; and to authorize the School Board to take any other action to carry out this vote; and to further raise and appropriate the additional sum of $11,963.99 for the first year’s payment on the bonds or notes?” If Article 2 does not pass, this article shall be null and void.
Sources: Windham Local School New Hampshire Warrant and Budget 2017 - January 27, 2017, Windham School District Deliberative Session - February 10, 2017, Windham School District 2017 Voter’s Guide - February 21, 2017 and February 28, 2017, Windham School Board meeting presentations by architects, engineers and construction managers - 2016-2017.
“What I feel for me is an opportunity to build a professional relationship with the Commissioner was not afforded to me. People elected us to represent them, and I didn’t get the opportunity to do that.” - School Board member Rob Breton.
School Board members Ken Eyring and Tom Murray “consciously” excluded the three other School Board members from meeting the newly-appointed New Hampshire Commissioner of the Department of Education, Frank Edelblut, according to remarks made by Murray at the February 21, 2017 School Board Meeting.
Eyring and Murray were questioned after an article appeared in the Eagle Tribune on February 16, 2017, covering the controversial visit. The Windham Independent reported that, “Superintendent Richard Langlois, Assistant Superintendent Kori Becht, Guidance Director Julie Lichtmann, IT Director Harry Bennett, Director of Student Services Kenneth Duesing, Business Administrator Bill Hickey, and School Board members Ken Eyring and Tom Murray discussed a number of topics including global initiatives, testing, curriculum, full day kindergarten, building construction, adequacy aid and charter schools.”
When questioned by School Board member Dennis Senibaldi as to why the other three School Board members (Rob Breton, Daniel Popovici-Muller, and Senibaldi) were neither notified nor invited to the event, Murray implicitly stated that he instructed Superintendent Langlois not to invite them.
Murray repeatedly denied that he and Eyring were representing the Windham School Board, and therefore were not obligated to invite other members. He stated that it was a meeting he had personally organized to introduce Edelblut to Windham Superintendent Langlois.
“We have a personal relationship with Mr. Frank Edelblut,” Murray said, referring to himself and Eyring. He explained he did not feel the other School Board members needed to be included, because, “This is no different than me reaching out to Rich or Bill and saying hey, do you want to go to a game tonight… I have Frank (Edelblut) coming over to discuss School Board stuff.”
Eyring confirmed that he also contacted the Commissioner of Education. He said, “I reached out to our Commissioner of Education. Tom and I thought it would be great. There are a lot of things we are putting into place that require a relationship with the state.”
Though Eyring and Murray insisted that they were not meeting Edelblut as School Board member representatives (as reported in the Eagle Tribune and the Windham Independent), but as private citizens; they both noted that building a relationship with the Commissioner would benefit our schools.
Eyring campaigned on a platform of transparency. Yet his term as a School Board member is showing a trend that is the exact opposite. It has been rife with accusations of withholding information, sharing confidential information, representing the School Board without consent, and meeting with candidates and politicians without fully-disclosing his intentions. So, he campaigned on a platform of bringing transparency to the public, yet he deliberately arranged a meeting to take place behind closed doors, that directly impacts the education of our children, without allowing the other three School Board members to hear or participate in the conversation.
To prove his point, Senibaldi asked Superintendent Langlois if he had been told to not invite Senibaldi, Breton and Popovici-Muller, specifically he said, “Did you go to bat for the Board asking if you could invite us, and were told no? Is that correct?” To which Langlois replied, “Yes.” Senibaldi followed up by asking Langlois, “So you were told not to invite us?” Langlois answered, “Yes.”
What, exactly, are Eyring and Murray “putting into place” that the entire Board could not be privy to? No one School Board member is permitted to act on behalf of the whole, yet Eyring and Murray arranged a meeting with Edelblut and instructed the Superintendent not to inform other School Board members. The meeting location was at Windham’s SAU (School Administrative Unit) building, there were invited attendees including the press and key members of the District’s Administration, and the subject matter of the meeting was education. Eyring and Murray repeatedly denied that they should have, at the very least, extended an invitation to Breton, Popovici-Muller and Senibaldi.
The concern here is the complete lack of transparency. Should two members of the Board take it upon themselves to determine the nature of a meeting involving education in our District, and compare this meeting to having friends over to watch a ball game? Furthermore, does this set a precedent between the Windham School District and the Department of Education, or in the future will all School Board members be invited to ensure that we are represented by the elected body? As Breton stated, “People elected us to represent them and I didn’t get the opportunity to do that.”
To watch the February 21, 2017 School Board Meeting, click here. The exchange above begins at 2hrs 30mins.
Windham LINK to Education has prepared a series of articles that review the 2017 School District Warrant and Budget. We hope that this will help you make an informed decision on Election Day, March 14, 2017.
Warrant Article 2
Our first review is of School District Warrant Article 2, which asks voters to raise and appropriate the sum of $38.9M. This includes a bond or note of $38.1M for renovations and new construction at Golden Brook School (GBS) and Windham Middle School (WMS). Also included is the purchase of four acres of land that abuts the GBS property that is needed for the GBS portion of the project, provisions for a Capital Reserve fund offset and a first year’s payment on the bond or note.
The tax impact for the first full year of the bond or note will be $1.37 per thousand of property valuation. For a home valued at $350,000 the tax impact would be $411 for the first full year of the bond or note. For a home valued at $500,000, the tax impact would be $685 for the first full year.
Impact on Golden Brook School
As part of the project, GBS will be renovated and enlarged significantly to house grades Preschool through Grade 4. The school will be divided into houses, by age/grade. With approximately 1,000 students, it will be one of the largest elementary schools in New Hampshire.
Impact on Windham Center School & Grade 6 Sports/Activities/Curriculum
Grade 6 moves to WCS, with Grades 5 and 6 housed there. It is our understanding that regulations would not allow Grade 6 students to participate in sports or activities at the Middle School once they are housed at WCS. We have not seen a proposal on how curriculum will be affected once 6th grade students, who currently have a team concept with accelerated math, world language, chorus, and band options, are moved to WCS.
Impact on Windham Middle School
WMS will be renovated and/or enlarged to include upgraded Science, Family and Consumer Science and Technical Education classrooms. It will house Grades 7 and 8 and be reclassified as a middle school, instead of an upper elementary school as it is now. Some specials at WMS are expected to remain on carts for 3-5 years.
Impact on Windham High School
Over the past few years, the presence of the Preschool and four - Grade 3 classrooms at WHS has directly impacted course offerings because of the lack of classroom space. The Grade 3 classrooms that are currently at Windham High School (WHS) would be moved to GBS, allowing WHS to have full access to the classrooms.
Impact on District Overcrowding
Should Warrant Article 2 pass, it will alleviate the current level of District overcrowding at each of our schools. Projected future enrollment figures differ based on the source consulted, so it is unclear whether this project will accommodate future growth.
This project is intended to rectify existing, nonconforming, code issues in both GBS and WMS. It will also create a new loop road that will have greater vehicle capacity.
The School District has worked extensively with licensed architects and engineers to create design documents and early pricing has been provided by experienced construction managers. We do not yet have construction documents, which are typically used to generate a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) in the traditional design-bid-build format of construction. This step can be expensive and is generally not taken until after a Warrant Article has passed. Once completed, we will have a better understanding of the full tax impact of the project.
Other Warrant Articles
Warrant Article 3 and Warrant Article 4 depend on the passing of Warrant Article 2, and provide for enhancements to Warrant Article 2. Stay tuned for our summary of these and the other Warrant Articles in the coming week.
You can also find us on Facebook @WindhamLINKtoEducation
Article 2 warrant language as of 2/21/2017:
“Shall the Windham School District vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $38,907,102 (gross budget) for the purpose of constructing and equipping a renovation and addition at Golden Brook School to be a pre-school, kindergarten and first through fourth grade school, construction and equipping of a renovation and/or an addition at Windham Middle School to include renovations to science labs, family and consumer science and technical education classrooms, and for the acquisition of approximately four (4) acres of land known as 114 Lowell Road, Windham, Rockingham County, New Hampshire as described in the Town of Windham Tax Maps as Lot 24-F-2500 and in Deed recorded Rockingham County Registry of Deeds, Book 3989 Page 2741; and to authorize the issuance of not more than $38,107,102 of bonds or notes under and in compliance with the Municipal Finance Act, RSA 33:1 et seq., as amended; and authorize the School Board to apply for, obtain and accept federal, state or other aid, if any, which may be available for said project and to comply with all laws applicable to said project; and to authorize the School Board to issue, negotiate, sell and deliver said bonds and notes and to determine the rate of interest thereon and the maturity and other terms thereof; with the sum of $800,000 from the Capital Reserve Fund established for the purpose of School Building and Construction, Renovation and Land Acquisition to be used to offset the project and to authorize the School Board to take any other action to carry out this vote; and to further raise and appropriate the additional sum of $725,887.37 for the first year’s payments on the bonds or notes?”
Sources: Windham Local School New Hampshire Warrant and Budget 2017 - January 27, 2017, Windham School District Deliberative Session - February 10, 2017, Windham School District 2017 draft Voter’s Guide - February 21, 2017, Windham School Board meeting presentations by architects, engineers and construction managers - 2016-2017, http://newschoolsforwindham.com/.
Windham LINK, along with much of the community, heard that several after school activities have been suspended at Windham High School. We have been in contact with School Board member Dennis Senibaldi who has provided some information. We are hoping the Superintendent, Richard Langlois, will provided further clarification at the next School Board Meeting on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.
It is our understanding that school clubs with stipends pay an amount to the educator who facilitates the club. The number of clubs that have a stipend position must be approved by the Windham Education Association (WEA), the teachers’ Union, and included in their contract with the District.
According to Senibaldi, “About four or five months ago, it came to light that there were many clubs across the District with stipends attached that were not part of the approved WEA contract. The clubs have operated this way for years so this is not a new situation.”
Senibaldi further stated that, “In an attempt to rectify this, the School Board and the Administration requested that building Principals look into what clubs were active and come up with a list for the Administration to negotiate with the Union. This was done and all listed clubs put forward were funded by the District, approved by the Union and signed off by the School Board.”
Senibaldi also explained, “Because there have been significant changes in how clubs are run and budgets managed, a series of miscommunications occurred at multiple levels within our District. We are working together to rectify this.”
This issue is on the agenda for the February 28, 2017 School Board Meeting at 7 PM at the Community Development Department, 3 North Lowell Road. At the beginning of each meeting there is time for public input.
If you cannot attend, but you would like your input considered, you can email the full Board at Wsb@windhamsd.org. You must ask that your letter be read aloud during the Public Input portion of the meeting. This allows for your opinion to be entered into public record, recorded, and shared with the community. (If you do not want it read aloud, you can still weigh in by emailing.)
Windham LINK has discussed sharing current articles in Education that spark our interest. Today, we are sharing a blog post and TEDx Talk by Will Richardson. Richardson is a parent of two teenagers, international speaker and writer about the intersection of social online learning networks and education. He blogs about education (willrichardson.com) and is an outspoken advocate for change in schools and classrooms.
In Richardson’s blog post, “Stop Innovating in Schools. Please.”, he suggests that innovative technology undermines our efforts to improve teaching, and ultimately, to improve learning. (Now, we are not in any way suggesting that Windham would be better off without our Chromebooks, SmartBoards, and MacBooks. We love our technology (and our educators) for sure!
However, Richardson argues, “To put it simply, innovation in schools today is far too focused on improving teaching, not amplifying learning.” For deep learning to take place, “As learners ourselves, we know that real learning that sticks with us over time occurs when it’s built on passion, when it has an authentic purpose and audience, when it’s relevant to our lives in the moment and beyond, when it’s not constrained by time, and more.”
Richardson’s TEDx Talk, “The Surprising Truth About Learning in Schools” is thought-provoking. He explains that the conditions for powerful learning, require education that is fun, relevant to the learner, and has real world application; just to name a few of the conditions.
We can all recall that one teacher, that one class, that sparked our curiosity and ignited our enthusiasm for learning. Sure, technology can assist in that process and is a relevant tool for 21st century learning. But it can’t do the work for our teachers or worse, our kids. The kind of innovation Richardson is talking about, at it’s best, inspires kids to want to learn more.
We would love to see your comments here.
It is likely that you have heard about the overcrowding in our School District and the proposed solution of the Golden Brook School/Windham Middle School Construction Project. This project appears as Warrant Article 2 on your ballot in the upcoming election on March 8th. Windham LINK wanted to be sure you had basic information about the proposed project and knew where to find additional details.
Article 2 authorizes the District to acquire the Massahos property, which is adjacent to GBS on the south side, and to perform a multi-phase renovation and addition project to Golden Brook School. Once completed, GBS will house pre-school, kindergarten, and grades 1 through 4. Windham Center School will house grades 5 & 6. Windham Middle School will house grades 7 & 8 and will be renovated to allow space in the building to provide the necessary curriculum to become an approved middle school; including proper science labs, family & consumer science, and technical education spaces.
The Facilities Committee, Building & Grounds Committee, the Administration, and the School Board have been working on this project for a year, in preparation for this election cycle. This Warrant Article for the construction project is recommended by the School Board 5-0. It requires 3/5th majority vote to pass.
If passed, work would begin within six months and take approximately 2-3 years in total. Warrant Article 2 is written for the sum of $38,950,001 for this project. According to the “Tax Impact” slide presented by the School Board, the tax impact for the project would cost the average 350K homeowner:
For more details: go to http://www.sau95.org. Information can be found, on the left, under the heading – “Voting Matters”
For questions: Email your school board members at firstname.lastname@example.org
For several years, Windham LINK has provided parents and community members in Windham with information about education issues in our town. Each year, Windham LINK recommends School Board candidates who we feel will best serve our children, school district, and community. The qualities we look for include: experience, commitment to the position and our school district, and a solid understanding of the expectations of a School Board member.
This year, there are two candidates running for School Board. Only Dennis Senibaldi has a proven track record and shown that he is versed in facilities, budgets and policies. Please join us in voting for Dennis Senibaldi for School Board member on March 8, 2016.
Senibaldi has been serving Windham since 2002. He has been on the Board of Selectman, Recreation Committee, Conservation Commission, Capital Improvement Committee, and is currently on the Windham School Board. During his tenure on the Board, he has consistently called upon the School District administration, teachers and staff for their expertise and knowledge. He has made decisions based on their feedback, while offering his own perspective and that of the public. His voice is often the only representation they have at School Board meetings and he consistently votes based on what is best for our children and schools.
Please take a moment to learn more about Senibaldi by visiting his website at www.votesenibaldi.com. And join us in supporting the re-election of Dennis Senibaldi on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at Windham High School.
On Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 7PM at the Community Development Department, the School Board will hear updates on two renovation/addition plans for Golden Brook School and Windham Middle School. It is expected that prelimary cost estimates will also be given of two separate options, both of which include a menu of “add alternates. “Add alternates” will be priced out separately, and pending the Boards decision may be included as part of the final proposal or may be presented as separate warrant articles, allowing voters to choose from a “menu” of options.
For Golden Brook School, the “add alternates” include:
The “add alternate” for Windham Middle School include:
Windham LINK encourages the public to attend the meeting Tuesday night. If you feel any of the above “add alternates” should be part of the final plan or presented as separate Warrant Articles, it is important to let the School Board know your thoughts now. Thank you again for your time!
The following post was originally published in the Windham Independent and is being with permission by the author, Kathryn Bates, Principal of Windham Center School
Background In 1939
Windham Center School opened its doors as Windham’s first public elementary school, Windham Grade School. At that time, Windham Center School had a total of three classrooms. As the years went by and the population of the town grew, renovations were completed at the school that included the addition of a gym and several classrooms. After the last renovation in 2000, Windham Center School was designed to accommodate 472 students (WSD Facilities Study, 2011); however, over the last five years, WCS enrollment has averaged between 630 and 750 students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2000), a school is overcrowded “when the number of students enrolled in the school exceeds the number of students the school was designed to accommodate.”
Currently there are 743 third, fourth, and fifth grade students enrolled at Windham Center School. Our students are housed across two separate campuses: Center School and Windham High School. There are 32 regular education grade level classrooms for grades three through five. The average class size for each grade level includes: Grade 3 at 21, Grade 4 at 24, and Grade 5 at 25.
The most significant impact of overcrowding at Windham Center School is the fact that our students are housed across two campuses. Four of our third grade classrooms are currently at Windham High School. In addition, class sizes are above the NH state average of 19 for grades three and four, and 20 for grade five. WCS has no designated space for art, music, band, physical therapy, English as a second language, or computer. Staff members often share small instructional spaces throughout the school. For example, seven response to intervention staff share a single small location. In addition, programs such as enrichment and foreign language were eliminated six years ago due to capacity issues. There is simply no additional physical space available to accommodate the current enrollment at Center School.
Other effects include a strain on current services such as administration, guidance and special education. Travel time between campuses, for students and staff, reduces available instructional time. In addition, Center School relies on four Golden Brook School teachers to provide gym, art, and music classes for our four third grade classes at Windham High School. There is also a lack of adequate parking. During the course of the day, and when events such as open house occur at the Center School campus, families and volunteers find they must park along the road, across the street, and across the intersection. This presents safety concerns and causes significant traffic flow issues at dismissal time and during events.
Plans Implemented to Alleviate/Mitigate
Windham Center School has already initiated numerous plans to help alleviate/mitigate the impact of overcrowding. Most notably, Windham Center School houses four third grade classrooms, and associated support services, at Windham High School. In addition, band takes place on the stage, some concerts take place in the WHS auditorium, art and music are on carts, and response to intervention and English as a second language take place in various spaces throughout the school (one space being utilized is a stair landing). A former classroom space was converted into five dedicated spaces for special education, and a former conference room and two staff bathrooms were converted into a single special education space. Parking spaces have been added along the rear driveway for staff/parents, and plans to move the rear fence, add additional parking spaces, and move the paved playground area to behind the playground equipment have been proposed. Other plans include a request to extend the front driveway in order to alleviate the dismissal and event traffic congestion.
Conclusion and Next Steps
As noted by a parent on the WCS Facebook page, Windham Center School is a school “for children and about the children; the way it should be.” This is our primary focus. We continue to provide for the needs of our students, but do so under the constraints of our capacity issues. Our next steps are dependent upon any construction that may take place to alleviate this serious issue. Barring construction, we will need to examine how our classrooms are configured and likely need to further increase class size. Windham Center School simply has no available and usable space left.
We welcome your comments, but you must be a real person. Please provide your first and last name. Any comments that are not viewed as appropriate by LINK will not be approved. Thank you!