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February 04. 2014 6:58PM

Town Meetings: Pelham, Windham eye big-ticket items

PELHAM -- The biggest warrant article at tonight's school district deliberative session is a $22.5 million high school renovation and addition project.

The project includes a new two-story addition and would increase the total square footage of the high school by nearly 50 percent, from 88,000 square feet to 130,000 square feet.

The project will increase the number of classrooms, increase the size of the existing classrooms, update the cafeteria and gym, add a new performing arts space, and create additional parking, according to Superintendent Amanda Lecaroz.

"The new 240-seat performance area will now be able to support our music and drama programs as well as our English language arts public speaking and communications classes," Lecaroz said.

In addition to the existing entrance, there will be a new community entrance to the school in the new addition.

"This will allow for community access while the student areas are secure," Lecaroz said. "This will also allow us to open at night and secure the science labs and classrooms."

The entrance will also allow for easy access for the public to the new performing arts space.

The new classroom space means the district will also be able to get rid of the portable classrooms at the high school.

The project looks to eliminate much of the traffic congestion at the school by creating more parking to the right of the building and changing the location of the bus loop.
Outside, several playing fields will be moved, including the softball field and tennis courts, to make way for the new addition, which will be visible to the public from the main road.
"This will put a nice face on Pelham High School for the community," Lecaroz said.

The renovation and addition project would be paid for through a 20-year bond, according to Steve Martin, school business director.

The payment during the first year of the bond issue would include $597,500 in interest payments, with a property tax impact of $124.66 for the owner of a home valued at $292,000, the average home valuation in town.

The largest tax impact would be during the second year of the bond, when the town would be paying about $2.1 million in interest in principal, according to Martin.

The tax impact to the average homeowner during that year would be about $443, he said.

— Adam Swift
Windham

Local voters will have the chance to sound off on a variety of town and school budgetary issues this weekend, during the Windham school and town deliberative sessions.

The Windham school deliberative session is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. in the Windham High School auditorium.

Among the articles up for debate are contracts with the district's teachers and office staff.

At $45,724,106, next year's proposed district operating budget represents a $814,106 increase over the current year's budget.

The Windham town deliberative session is planned for Saturday, Feb. 8, at Windham High School. The meeting begins at 9 a.m.

Article 29, Windham's proposed $13,461,811 operating budget, represents a $793,939 increase over the current year's budget.
Town officials said increases to state retirement costs, non-union wage increases and an increase in the cost of contracted services are among the reasons for the budget hike.
Among the town's articles up for discussion are a $275,000 multi-use recreational field and new contracts with the town's municipal union, firefighters union and police union.

Also up for discussion is Article 14, asking voters to approve the $850,000 purchase of a Quint vehicle, which is a combination fire tanker, engine and aerial device to replace the Windham Fire Department's 1980s-era ladder truck. A federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant would fund 95 percent of the project, with the balance of $42,500 to come from general taxation funds.

Ballot voting on all town and school items will take place Tuesday, March 11, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Windham High School.

— April Guilmet


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