Hampstead proposes improvement project for fifth time

An artist’s rendering of the proposed renovation at Hampstead Central School.

HAMPSTEAD — For the fifth time in recent years, the school board is proposing an expansion and renovation to Hampstead Central School that is now estimated to cost nearly $8 million.

The proposed 20-year-bond to pay for the project will be considered by voters next month and comes a year after they rejected a $7.4 million plan.

Last year’s proposal failed to get the 60 percent vote needed to pass. It required 828 favorable votes, but received 708 in favor and 672 against.

While the cost of the project continues to climb, supporters have insisted that the school needs upgrades to address safety and security concerns, space deficiencies and other problems.

At a recent school deliberative session, Craig Jones of Manchester-based Dennis Mires, P.A., The Architects, outlined the proposal.

While exploring options for the project, Jones said the firm had looked at safety and security, space deficiencies, code upgrades and building efficiency.

He said the building has 10 access points that need to be secured.

According to the plans, new construction would include a cafeteria and community room, library, music room, two classrooms, administration area, and main entry.

The entire 1960s wing would be remodeled. Other work would include additional restrooms, structural repairs and the addition of fire sprinklers.

“The reality is that Central School as a whole does not support the classrooms and the programs necessary now and certainly not going on into the 21st century. It’s time to make changes to meet the needs of your youngest children,” principal Dillard Collins said at the meeting.

Among other deficiencies, he said the school doesn’t have enough small learning spaces.

“We have strategically repurposed closets to become small teaching spaces and one of them is a copy room,” he said.

Jason Cipriano, vice chairman of the school board, presented tax impact figures showing that, if approved, the project would add 69 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to the tax rate in the fall of 2020 and an average of 53 cents in future years. That means that a property owner with a home valued at $200,000 would see a $138 increase in their tax bill in 2020 and an average of $106 in the years that follow.

Breaking it down further, Cipriano said that that would come to just under $12 a month on average for someone with a $200,000 home.