LONDONDERRY — The school district is studying space, numbers and better ways to utilize its educational capacity.
With the district seeing growth in student numbers in the younger age groups, a new Facility Study Committee will take on the challenge of looking at those increases and how best to use buildings to accommodate those numbers.
Bringing full-time kindergarten to town may make the study list.
Back in April, Superintendent Scott Laliberte gave the school board an overview of what a full-day kindergarten program in Londonderry might look like if ever approved and implemented.
Right now, Londonderry has both morning and afternoon sessions held at Moose Hill School on Pillsbury Road.
Moose Hill has been on school officials' minds, as enrollment numbers grow in those younger grades and what space might be needed as numbers grow. That school is running out of space, officials say.
Some communities approved full-day kindergarten plans at the polls in March, including Windham and Chester.
"Expansion of full-day kindergarten has been rapid across the state," Laliberte said at an earlier meeting, adding some towns approved the program while others offer programs that are tuition-based for the full-day extension.
A full-day kindergarten program is one of the outcome options that may eventually come back to be presented to the school board after the facilities study work is complete.
Other areas the committee will study are ways to expand Moose Hill School to accommodate the growth seen in the existing half-day kindergarten and Londonderry Early Education Program, or LEEP, numbers; potential restructuring of the existing kindergarten through grade five configurations and how to handle future enrollment increases; and what contingency plan might work to accommodate growing student numbers if any potential bond is not approved by voters.
The facilities group is made up of not only school officials, but community members and town officials, Laliberte said. Meetings may begin later in the summer.
"We want to make sure we get this right," Laliberte said. "We want to be as all encompassing as possible, and a lot of the work will be done in sub-groups."
The board also heard a presentation by district business administrator Peter Curro, offering a look at the district's capital improvement plan, or CIP, for fiscal years 2021-2026.
The CIP committee is made up of members from town council, school board, planning board, and budget committee and takes input on projects from all departments, then rates them according to urgency or need. Some projects take a higher priority than others. The planning board eventually adopts the list.
The school's capital list includes an option for expanded school space; district wide building renovations; an auditorium, new SAU office, and high school gym renovation and possible turf field.
Town Council Chairman John Farrell, also the head of the CIP committee, spoke out at a recent meeting during a public forum, saying he wanted to address the school district's possible wish list of capital projects and what they might cost.
"The town has reached a point where we need to move toward a moratorium on bonds," Farrell said. "For the next two years we don't believe there is any real need for new bonds, and we won't go to the voters and ask them to build new facilities."
Farrell continued, saying the school department may be asking for a $70 million bond, and looking to add to facilities, and add full-day kindergarten that would have to be approved by voters.
Farrell said student population is actually down and questioned the need to add on to existing school space.
"I would suggest to you as voters and taxpayers that you get educated on this as well," he said.