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November 05. 2012 1:11AM

Windham to look at school overcrowding

WINDHAM - Parents are encouraged to gather at Windham High School tonight to tackle a growing problem: the district's overcrowded schools.

The public hearing, during which the school board will review solution options, will begin at 7 p.m.

District officials announced last week that the meeting, which had originally been scheduled for last Tuesday, would be rescheduled due to Hurricane Sandy.

Among the options being presented would be to leave things as they are, or to build additions in phases.

During the Oct. 16 meeting, school board member Mike Joanis, who serves on the district's facilities committee, warned that doing nothing would have consequences, as educational offerings would be reduced.

In the option to build, presented by Lavallee Brensinger Architects, the initial phase of construction would alleviate some of the overcrowding at Windham Middle School. Plans include the addition of 14 classrooms, with long-range plans to place grades five through eight at the current middle school, kindergarten through second grade at Golden Brook School and grades three and four at Windham Center School.

A three-story addition at the middle school would total 30,600 square feet of new construction, with future phases adding 48,000 square feet.

At Golden Brook, a one-story classroom addition would replace the existing portable classrooms, with core upgrades adding 2,500 square feet.

The project's initial phase, which includes construction and upgrades to the existing sprinkler system, is estimated to cost approximately $9.99 million.

The middle school's future phase would cost an estimated $15.1 million, with Golden Brook updates totaling $14.3 million.

Improvements to the high school fields would cost another $3.5 million.

Another option, district officials said, would be to construct a new middle school on London Bridge Road, near the existing high school.

Initial building costs would be just under $30 million, with room left over for future growth, though the construction process would take up to 30 months, Joanis said.

Residents wishing to view the detailed proposals may do so online at www.windhamsd.org.

aguilmet@newstote.com

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