DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

March 13, 2014

Londonderry approve $4 million school plan

Budget, warrant articles all pass

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — The second time was a charm as voters approved a $4 million school spending plan to renovate and improve district buildings.

Voters came out Tuesday and also approved a $66.2 million school operating budget and all warrant articles.

Only 2,021 of the town’s 15,906 registered voters — 12.7 percent — came out Tuesday to cast ballots.

School district clerk Mary Soares said turnout was way too low by late afternoon. She wished more people would come out for the local elections every year.

“Isn’t this much more affecting them than Obama or even the state level?” Soares asked. “It’s not what we had hoped.”

This was the second attempt at passing the $4 million renovation bond. The vote, 1,235-736, required 60 percent approval to pass. It received 62 percent support.

Voters reject a similar bond last year, failing by only 11 votes.

The bond money will be used to make major roofing and paving repairs at various school buildings, along with upgrades in school security.

Many projects were put on hold with the hopes the bond would pass this year.

“We’ve seen many projects put on hold due to fiscal constraints,” district business administrator Peter Curro said earlier this year.

Curro said some issues were serious and needed to be done now.

One major project on the radar is replacement of the middle school roof. Others making the top of the list are paving work, security upgrades and replacement of the stadium field’s concession/press box structures.

Some of the approved bond money will go to help to reconfigure food service areas to help students have more time to eat and shorter lines. The press box and concession stand at the high school field are also earmarked for improvements that could cost $350,000. Upgrades would also include adding permanent restrooms.

School security will also get some upgrades creating new vestibule areas in schools to make the entrances safer.

Other school articles that passed included a $500,000 plan to support a Schools Buildings Maintenance Expendable Trust Fund; $100,000 for a School District Equipment Capital Reserve Fund; and two collective bargaining agreements between the school district, custodians and support staff that will provide minimal raises over the course of the contract.

In a three-way race, incumbent School Board member Nancy Hendricks and Dan Lekas earned the two open seats on the board, earning 1,129 and 960 votes, respectively. George Tsekrekas received 876 votes.

The day included not only voting business, but the usual community gathering in the gym lobby. Residents provided displays of their voting preferences and Girl Scouts sold cookies in the corner.

Resident Ann Chiampa staffed the Londonderry Historical Society table and said she sold out of all her baked goods. She was also offering information on the planned projects at the town’s museum on Pillsbury Road.

“We do this every year,” Chiampa said.

Residents went into the gym to vote, then came out and offered $110 in donations to the historical group.

Chiampa said the day’s voter turnout came in waves, but she always hopes more will get out and vote.

“We had our busy moments and our quiet times,” she said. “And I didn’t even ask for the money and they kept donating.”