LONDONDERRY — The School District’s administrative office space may eventually return to its former spot.
Supporters of a proposed plan to build a new School Administrative Unit, or SAU, office adjacent to the Town Hall on Mammoth Road, a former location of the administrative space, say a new space there would serve the community best and save taxpayers money.
That includes School Board member Bob Slater and resident volunteer Tony DeFrancesco, who have made the case for several years as to why bringing the SAU back to Mammoth Road makes sense.
The district’s administrative office moved in 2018 to a new leased space at 6A Kitty Hawk Landing. The move and its costs were approved by School Board members and included in the budget approved by voters at the polls that year.
The old SAU space adjacent to Town Hall was aging and had many challenges, including lack of space to grow, air quality issues and other concerns.
That building was eventually torn down and the space remains empty. The town retains ownership of the property and voters would once again have to approve the project to build a new SAU office there.
Slater said moving the SAU closer to schools and other facilities is a good idea, not just logistically but to help save money in the long run.
DeFransesco, involved with the school district facilities study work, and Slater went before Town Council recently to give another push to the SAU plan to return back to its former spot, hoping to gauge some input from councilors on ways to move forward.
The plan, if approved, would construct a two-story wing at the Town Hall complex, with original plans from the old building giving the new space a coherent look to match that of the town building.
“Our intention is to do that exact thing again,” DeFrancesco said, “to look exactly like Town Hall. It will be what you are looking for, the right look the right size. It’s identical. Enough is enough. We are either going to move it or not.”
The school district is also being supported by the Trident Group and its professional services to study costs, design and the site. The property is “pad ready,” supporters said, with minimal site work required to support a new building. That could save taxpayers about $1 million, according to the supporters.
Councilors gave positive remarks about the potential of bringing the SAU back to the town complex.
“If you are saving taxpayers money, it makes sense,” said Councilor Jim Butler.
Councilor Tom Dolan liked the idea of having a cohesive town complex.
“This entire municipal campus creates a visual for the town,” he said.
The School Board also got updates about a possible SAU move and approved $98,500 to support initial work to get the proposed plan moving forward and other details in place in time to be considered for the March 2022 ballot.
DeFrancesco said more definite costs will be brought back to the board later in the year.
He added, “I think this is a great opportunity for taxpayers, it’s best for the school district to put offices back to the center of town nearer to schools.”