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White Mountains school building project fails

WHITEFIELD - The warrant article for a bond to help finance the construction of a new education and technical center at White Mountains Regional High School failed to get the necessary 60 percent in Tuesday's voting. That effectively killed the $18 million project for this year and made the passage of a separate bond article for the $4.3 million high school renovations project irrelevant.

Out of 1,750 votes cast, 962 were in favor of the project, or 56 percent. Sixty more yes votes were needed for its passage. The high school renovation article did reach the 60 percent threshold, with 1,022 yes votes, 675 no.

Even if the article had passed, the project depended on $13.5 million for State Career and Technical Education funding, with most of the balance - about $4.5 million - raised through bonding and state building aid.

The renovations were dependent on the construction of the new CTE facility, and would have included an expansion of cafeteria seating, upgrades to the bathrooms, auditorium, library and main office.

The proposed high school renovation project was contingent on the district securing the 56 percent of the funds from State Building Aid.

The White Mountains Regional School District serves the towns of Dalton, Carroll, Jefferson, Lancaster and Whitefield. School board member Peter Riviere of Lancaster said Thursday that the board met Wednesday night and is exploring options. Though a recount has been requested, it's not expected to change the outcome. Riviere said the board will likely present a new plan next year.

At the bond hearing in January, SAU 36 superintendent Dr. Harry Fensom said that if the funds for the building project were not approved then it would not go forward, but there were still health and safety issues that needed to be addressed. The school has six high voltage electric transformers inside the building.

Riviere agreed with that assessment, adding that funds to defray the costs of the energy efficiency projects, and a woodchip biomass plant, that were a part of the package might be available through grants.

The project had support from local representatives to the state Legislature, and the support of District 1 state Sen. Jeff Woodburn of Dalton, who were working to ensure that the state building aid funds would be there for the project.

Voters did approve the $19,477,915 operating budget. An article to rescind the SB2 form of annual meeting in the district was defeated.


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