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June 06. 2014 8:17PM

Wilton elementary school construction set to begin


Construction is set to begin on the Florence Rideout Elementary School in Wilton as part of a school consolidation project with Lyndeborough. Kathleen Baglio Humphreys 

WILTON — It’s been years in the making, but starting next week phase 1 of the $8.25 million Florence Rideout Elementary School construction and renovation project will begin.

“On Monday, as the students leave school for the summer, the construction workers will go in to get ready for demolition,” said Harry Daily, Wilton-Lyndeborough School Board member.

The final plan calls for major changes at the Florence Rideout Elementary School. The 1950s wing will be demolished and a new state-of-the-art building constructed while renovating the 1895 wing, including the gymnasiums.

Multiple Lyndeborough Central School rooms will be renovated to meet kindergarten state standards as well as to serve as administrative office space, saving $30,000 a year in office rental costs.

In September 2015, when all three phases are complete, the school in Wilton will educate grades 1-5 while the pre-K and kindergarten students will attend classes in Lyndeborough.

It’s been a two-year process, a few town meetings, various consolidation votes, changes in the articles of agreement, eight months of informational meetings and a lot of planning.

The towns share a cooperative middle and high school but were financially responsible for the elementary school located within their town borders until voters changed that in March 2014 to allow the elementary schools to be consolidated, paving the way to vote on the addition and renovation project.

In the fall of 2012 the sixth-graders from both towns were moved to the middle school campus in Wilton and in 2013 a new principal was hired to oversee the elementary schools in both towns.

“Wilton needed to spend a lot of money to fix their school, the question was what made the most sense for each district and for each town,” said Geoff Brock, Wilton-Lyndeborough School Board chairman. “The school board’s opinion was it was the best option to consolidate the elementary schools due to declining enrollment plus it will allow more flexibility for class sizes, curriculum and teacher support.”

Lyndeborough has about 65 students in grades K-5 and only one classroom per grade. This is the second school year with a new kindergarten addition. Wilton has at least two classrooms per grade.

“Now that we are a fully consolidated district, all school expenses will be shared by both towns according to the formula,” said Brock.

“I think this does a lot of good for both towns both financially and educationally,” Brock added. “It will provide serious improvements to the quality of classrooms in both towns; basically all but two classrooms and Lyndeborough kindergarten will be all new. Everyone will have new buildings.”

Demolition is expected to start June 16.

khumphreys@newstote.com


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