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December 22. 2013 7:48PM

State seeks more info on Middleton school plan

CONCORD — The Board of Education requested more specifics about Middleton's plan to build a new school as part of a proposal to withdraw from Farmington.

After meeting with the state board Thursday, members of the Middleton School Board were told to provide more details about the school plan, which if approved by voters in March would could educate students in pre-kindergarten through Grade 6 by the fall of 2016, according to Paul Leather, deputy commissioner for the N.H. Department of Education.

"Middleton was told to get information as soon as possible to Commissioner (Virginia) Barry, knowing that they are looking for a resolution of their request at the next state board meeting, scheduled for Jan. 14," Leather said in an email.

After studying the issue for the past six months, Middleton officials believe it is feasible to conduct a phased withdrawal from Farmington. It proposes to send Grades 7-12 to Gov. Wentworth Regional School District in Wolfeboro after July 1, 2015. The remaining students would move into the new school the following year.

If the withdrawal plan, school proposal or tuition agreement is rejected by voters, some or all of Middleton's students will remain in Farmington under the current Authorized Regional Enrollment Area (AREA) agreement.

Last year, local residents voted 167-64 for the district to study the feasibility of withdrawing after some residents raised concerns about the quality of education of and the tuition rate to Farmington.

In October, school officials formed a building committee to study the feasibility of building a school on a 55-acre parcel owned by the district. The committee will present residents with their findings at the next annual school district meeting in February. Voters will decide on the matter in March.

Officials estimated it could cost $4.9 million to construct an elementary school to educate local students in pre-kindergarten through Grade 6. The cost of paying for the school is additional to the amount required to run the facility.

If the state and the voters approve the withdrawal, Farmington officials must decide how to adjust to the loss of Middleton's tuition and about a whole class of students from each grade.

On Monday, members of School Administration Unit 61, which usually includes members of the Farmington and Middleton school boards, are scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. For more information, visit sau61.org and middletonnh.gov.
jquinn@newstote.com


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