Danbury withdrawing from Newfound district will be costly
That was the message delivered to the school board by District Business Administrator Dan Rossner Monday night, as the board announced it is formally responding to Danbury voters approving a study on the feasibility and suitability for the town to withdraw from the district.
If the town withdraws, Danbury residents would owe the school district an initial payment of $129,000 for investments the district has made in Danbury Elementary School, which was sold by the town to the district many years ago, Rossner said.
Residents would also owe about $35,000 a year for the remainder of a 13-year district improvements bond that the town OK'd while part of the district, he said.
School Board Chairman Vincent Paul Migliore said other towns in the seven-town district should take notice. Saying he has heard "rumors" that residents in Bridgewater, Hebron, and Groton also want to consider leaving the district, Migliore said any community leaving would face a similar debt to the district.
At next Monday night's meeting, Barrett M. Christina, staff attorney with the New Hampshire School Board Association, will address the legalities and other issues involved with a town withdrawing from a school district, Migliore said.
Selectmen in the district's seven towns — Alexandria, Bridgewater, Bristol, Danbury, Groton, Hebron, and New Hampton — have been asked to come to next week's meeting. To comply with state laws, one selectman from each town will be required to join a 14-member study committee that will also include the entire school board.
"This is a very complex issue," he said. "Next week, I hope there are 21 or 28 selectmen here with us."
The withdrawal issue arose when Danbury voters approved a petitioned warrant article earlier this month for a study on the town's possible withdrawal. The vote was 243-78.
Danbury is the only school in the district with a K-4 elementary school. At present, its students go to Bristol schools from grades 5-12. Town residents were angered last year when the board discussed a plan that would have closed the elementary school and sent students to Bristol as a cost-saving measure.
Danbury School Board member Ruby Hill said it wasn't the first time district officials have discussed closing the school. If it had been closed, "our smallest students would have been on the bus from 6:30 a.m. to 7:50 a.m. each morning," she said.
"(Danbury) people are not angry. They just want to know if the current arrangement is the best arrangement for our kids," Hill said.
Many residents in district towns are concerned because the district is contemplating substantial money-saving measures, such as a new district K-8 system, to deal with its steadily declining enrollments, Migliore said.