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.
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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.)
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!