DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

January 23, 2014

Londonderry voters will face $4M school bond

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — Voters here will be asked to spend $4 million to help repair some of the district’s most pressing school building issues.

The school district hosted its budget hearing Jan. 16 and gave more details about a proposed $4 million warrant article that would be used to renovate and repair buildings that are high on a priority list of work needing to be done.

Voters reject a similar bond in March 2013, with the measure failing to pass by only 11 votes.

“We’ve seen many projects put on hold due to fiscal constraints,” district business administrator Peter Curro said. “They say, ‘Can’t the project wait until next year?’ However, next year never seems to arrive.”

Curro said some projects could wait another year. Some are too serious and need to be addressed 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.

There would also be bond money, if approved, to reconfigure food service areas to help students have more time to eat and shorter lines.

The press box and concession stand project would bring that area to a safer level, Curro said.

The buildings were built decades ago by an all-volunteer crew, he said, and are structurally unsafe.

It could cost $350,000 to repair or replace those buildings. That would include adding permanent restrooms to the field area, something Londonderry doesn’t have, Curro said.

“The only criticism I ever get from people coming from out of town are there are no bathrooms,” he said.

The added security project includes creating new vestibule areas in schools where visitors entering the buildings would come to a secure area first, check in and get a visitors’ badge before accessing the rest of the school.

Having another try at passing a renovation bond would help keep the schools in good shape. If the bond fails again in March, Curro said, there would be money also proposed in a district maintenance trust fund to help pay for projects.

It’s still a good year to pass a 10-year bond, though last year would have been best with the low rates, he said.

If the bond is approved in March, Curro said, the work for the major projects like the middle school roof could take two summers to complete while school is out.

If it fails again, then decisions would be made as to what projects would be tackled with the money available.

“It would be what we can do or not do if this fails,” Curro said.

School officials also went over the proposed $66.2 million operating budget for next year.

The district’s deliberative session on the school budget is Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Londonderry High School cafeteria.