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Middleton residents to deliberate on school withdrawal plan

Union Leader Correspondent

February 04. 2014 10:44PM

MIDDLETON — Many people are wondering whether the community can afford to build a new school and if there’s enough support to withdraw from Farmington.

Residents and officials will be able to discuss the project during the district’s annual deliberative session Saturday. It will begin at 9 a.m. in the Old Town Hall.

Article 2 would allow the district to take out a $6,592,500 bond to build a new school for students in kindergarten through Grade 6 along King’s Highway and allocate $46,795 for the first year’s bond payment, which could be offset by interest earned on bond payments in the general fund.

This article requires a 60 percent majority to pass and will only go into effect if Articles 5 and 6 also are approved.

Officials previously said they intend to present detailed information about the financial impact of withdrawing and building a new school during the deliberative session comment about the matter.

Article 5 would approve the tuition agreement between the Middleton School District and the Governor Wentworth Regional School District to allow local students in Grades 7-12 to attend schools in Wolfeboro between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2025. The contract can be cancelled or extended in 2023.

Residents of Gov. Wentworth School District — including Brookfield, Effingham, New Durham, Ossipee, Tuftonboro and Wolfeboro — must also ratify the tuition agreement for the withdrawal plan to go into effect.

Local residents are invited to tour the Kingswood Regional High and Junior High schools Feb. 15.

Article 6 would allow the district to withdraw from the Authorized Regional Enrollment Area (AREA) agreement with Farmington. If approved, local students in Grades 7-12 would no longer be educated in Farmington after July 2015. Students in Kindergarten through Grade 6 would leave the following year.

District officials previously estimated it will cost $2.9 million to operate the new school. Additionally, the school board believes the total cost of the operating budget, tuition — for Grades 7-12 — to Governor Wentworth and the annual bond payments would be about $3.77 million.

Article 3 would appropriate $3,717,218 for the district’s operating budget. It is $171,619 — or 4.8 percent — larger than last year’s budget of $3,545,599. If defeated, a default budget of $3,660,572 would be enacted and the district could hold a special meeting to address a revised operating budget.

Article 4 would appropriate $120,064 for the district’s portion of SAU 61’s budget of $928,212. If a majority of voters both in Farmington and Middleton reject the proposal, the SAU budget would be $929,999, including the local portion of $120,295.

Article 9 petitions residents to create a committee to study the feasibility and prepare for a plan to withdraw from SAU 61, which oversees students from Farmington and Middleton. If approved, the committee would have determine where Middleton would receive administrative services, submit their finished plan to the state Board of Education and have residents decide on the matter at the polls.

Articles 7 and 8 would use the unassigned fund balance, which becomes available after June 30, to add up to $40,000 to the Special Education Trust Fund and $10,000 to the Bus Capital Reserve Fund.

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