Future of Newport's Towle School building to be discussedBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent
October 04. 2017 12:33AM
NEWPORT — The future of the Towle School building is to be discussed at an open meeting Thursday night, said SAU 43 Superintendent Cindy Gallagher.
The 1923 building closed its doors last year to students, but its gym remained in use for the district’s varsity sports teams.
In August, the SAU moved into the first floor of the building, leaving only the second floor not in use, Gallagher said Tuesday.
Originally a high school, Towle was most recently used by 5th- and 6th-graders in the district. But the out-of-date facility is unsuitable for that use, Gallagher said, adding that to move SAU offices in, the district had to hardwire the old building to support internet connections, negating any financial benefit from not paying a lease.
Gallagher said the building is in need of repairs and upgrades, and whatever new use is decided on will require funding.
“The heating system alone is from 1923,” she said.
Since district enrollment is declining, closing the building for education purposes saves the district money.
Fifth-graders have been moved to the elementary school and sixth-graders to the middle school.
Gallagher said the Board of Selectmen’s community recreation center feasibility study is currently considering converting the building into a community/recreation center.
Gallagher said most Newport residents have strong feelings about the building.
“It’s the heart of the town; it’s the educational heart to the town. There’s something about Towle that everybody loves,” she said. “We have lots of citizens that graduated from there that have very strong feelings about the historic nature of the building.”
Thursday night’s meeting will take place in the Towle Building auditorium from 6 to 7:30 p.m.