School Board Looks at Options for Funding Renovations

School District Business Administrator Peter Curro and Director of Buildings and Grounds Chuck Zappala presented the School Board with a list of prioritized repair and renovation projects for a bond request in March.
At the previous school board meeting, the board requested the projects be prioritized, and Curro and Zappala returned Nov. 5 with the list. But after hearing the items on the list and looking at the numbers, board members raised concerns.

The priority 1 list is as follows by area:
• Londonderry Middle School – Replace roof over the Multi Purpose Room and classrooms, $475,000. Replace the roof over the classroom pod wing, $260,000; paving front parking lot, $350,000.
• Matthew Thornton Elementary School – Paving, $600,000.
• District Wide – Vestibule security upgrades, $200,000.
• Londonderry High School, replace roof, phase 5, $280,000; replace roof, phases 4 and 6, $550,000; replace roof over connector halls, $130,000; overcoat gym roof, $100,000.
• Moose Hill School, roof replacement, $410,000.
Priority 2 is as follows:
• Londonderry High School – food service renovations, $100,000.
• Moose Hill Kindergarten – pave west side and drop off area, $70,000.
• District Wide – field improvements, press box and concession stand, $350,000.
Total cost for all projects is $3,875,000.
Zappala said most of the list was priority 1 because the individual project is a critical need and the price would increase with time. Zappala said there could be health or safety implications if there is a delay. He added that while priority 2 projects may not be as critical, they address important needs that will likely become critical in the near future.
“This is not by any means a wish list,” he said. “They are all needed for a variety of reasons. There are about eight or nine projects that I put as a priority one, and my criteria for priority one is that it is a critical need.”
Curro said the roofing projects totaled $2,205,000, with paving at $1,020,000.
“That will give you an idea that almost two-thirds of this bond is roofing,” Curro said.
Board member John Laferriere asked about the vestibule security upgrades project, saying that last year they had discussed security and said it should continue to “roll forward.”
“My question is really very simple, does this actually belong here?” Laferriere said.
He said security matters should be listed separately.
“Do we know where we are right now? I know we did the cameras and the cards but I’m certain that we’ve probably learned a lot and things have changed and things have settled down, and other schools are doing different things,” he said. “I’m not saying to not do anything with it, but should it actually be in this bond?”
Laferriere said warrants articles are put up because they stand alone.
“If we don’t hit it again, then this money that has been cited for security, what happens to that?” Laferriere said.
Curro said if this article or any article is not passed, the work cannot be done. A no vote by the voters is the equivalent of a “zero appropriation” project and cannot be done, he explained.
Board member Leitha Reilly said that if there were an “emergency situation” or a critical need for a repair, the project could be done on an emergency basis even if the voters turned it down. Curro said that was not necessarily the case, as the district would have to go to court to seek permission to do the repairs.
“You have to go to court and ask the judge for emergency appropriations,” Curro said.
Reilly said the district could repair a roof, not replace it, if the voters turned the article down, and Curro agreed.
“I’m going to advocate to John’s point of it being separated out,” Reilly said of the security expenses.
Laferriere asked if the $200,000 had to be spent all at once.
“We’re giving you a list of proposed ideas. You’re not obligated to do all or any of these things in this list,” Curro said. “The items are not voted on, the note is for general purpose.”
Laferriere said that made him even more nervous because the items and expenses could be played with and the security money wouldn’t necessarily be dedicated to security.
“I heard this last year, we want to make sure this (security) doesn’t get buried,” he said. “The way I see this is that it’s a way to bury security type issues. I’d much prefer to have the public take a look at what we want to spend on security so they understand what they are getting.”
Board member John Robinson said regarding security, that if the case were made that vestibule security upgrades are something that needs to be done, he would not have a problem seeing it in the operating budget rather than as a bond issue.
“If that’s something we need to do, I think security, health and safety is something we simply have to do as an ongoing thing,” Robinson said.
Robinson said the one concern he had was that he wasn’t sure all the listed items were of equal priority.
“I’m not sure a new press box is as important as making sure roofs don’t leak,” Robinson said.
Superintendent Nathan Greenberg said that what was before the board was a list of what was needed and that as the budget process took place, it would be discussed whether or not to have a bond and what the bond was to be for if a bond were chosen.
Board member Steve Young said it was “going to be a very difficult year again” to present large ticket items to the voters.
Curro said he was looking for direction and Laferriere responded that security should be taken out.
Young said the best fiscal decision to make would be to have the bond.
Chairman Nancy Hendricks asked what options were available, and Curro responded, “increase the maintenance trust fund with the middle school roof as the number one priority. If you wanted to leave the maintenance trust at $500,000, you could have a separate article just to do the roof, or you could put some of the stuff in the operating budget. You have three buckets on the floor to put money in. My suggestion would be either adding money to the maintenance trust fund or have the separate article for the roof.”
Hendricks said the roof was important enough that it shouldn’t be put off if the bond were not to pass.
Greenberg said he and Curro would give the board some options for the board to consider.
Curro added that if the town also had a bond, “history shows that with two bonds, none win.”

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