By Alex Malm
Members of the community made their way to the Londonderry High School Cafeteria on Feb. 10 for the annual school district deliberative session, to vote on whether or not warrant articles should be sent to the ballot and if any should be amended.
One of the warrant articles that caused discussion was in regards to raising $5 million for district wide infrastructure repair and replacement, which would have an estimated tax impact of two cents.
School Board Chair, Amy Finamore, said it would give them a chance to update out of date furnaces, boilers, and other HVAC equipment.
She said if approved, it will take about three years to complete the eight projects part of the bond.
“In all instances they’ve been used long beyond their expected life,” said Finamore.
Ray Breslin said “a lot of this is really important to get done,” saying it is overdue.
He also asked how they got the estimates for the projects.
Business Administrator, Lisa McKenney, said it came from one of their HVAC providers who have completed similar projects.
Finamore stated they would get estimates once the bond is approved.
“At that point we would bid it,” said Finamore.
Kristine Perez said she was surprised to hear how long some of the equipment is past its life expectancy.
“I am amazed that we have equipment between 13 and 30 years past its life expectancy,” she said.
She made a motion to amend the warrant article to $0 noting that she was concerned that voters wouldn’t approve a bond.
“You’re not going to be able to pass a bond in this town,” said Perez.
The amendment failed and the original warrant article was sent to the ballot.
One of the items discussed in regards to the proposed $85,436,043 operating budget was about enrollment.
Superintendent, Dan Black, explained they have had stable enrollment the last couple of years and are projected to have about six students less next year.
Town Councilor, Deb Paul, asked if they considered the 500 apartments expected to be built in town.
“That has the potential of bringing in a lot of students,” said Paul.
Black said enrollment is hard to project, but the biggest increases usually happen for kindergarten, 1st grade, and 9th grade. While the future apartments weren’t factored into the enrollment projects.
Paul said the apartments are going to begin getting built in the next year.
“If each house had one child, you’re talking an extra 500 kids,” said Paul.
Nancy Hendricks, said sometimes they see shifts in enrollment at the elementary school level and asked if they had room in the budget to add another teacher if needed.
“We don’t have the room to just add another teacher in this budget,” said Black.
He said they could potentially use fund balance if needed.
The warrant article was sent to the ballot. The estimated tax impact is $12.35.
A warrant article that will ask voters to approve a contract between the school district and the union that represents the custodians was sent to the ballot. The agreement would be a three year contract, which is expected to cost $160,486 in year one, $140,189 in year two, and $141,735 in year three. The estimated tax impact is expected to be 3 cents each year.
The warrant article which allows the school district to accept federal funds for the school lunch program and for federal projects was sent to the ballot. The funds would be a total of approximately $3.4 million.
District Wide Safety
A warrant article that will ask voters to approve $350,000, which would allow for the district to move forward with the door locks at the high school, middle school, and South School and also allow for the emergency alerting system at the other five schools, was sent to the ballot without any amendments. The estimated tax impact is 7 cents.
The warrant article that will ask voters to approve raising and appropriating $445,000 for the Buildings and Grounds Capital Reserve fund was sent to the ballot. The estimated tax impact is 9 cents.
A special warrant article that would ask voters to sign off on raising and appropriating $125,000 for the District Technology Network Infrastructure Capital Reserve Fund was sent to the ballot. The estimated tax impact is 2 cents.
A warrant article to use $80,000 from the unassigned fund balance at the end of the year for the equipment capital reserve fund and a warrant article to use $73,000 from the unassigned fund balance at the end of the year for the vehicle and machinery capital reserve fund were also moved to the ballot without any amendments.
A warrant article that would use $250,000 from the unassigned fund balance at the end of the year to purchase Chromebooks also drew some discussion. It was explained previously that it would allow for all sixth, seventh, and eighth graders to be able to have their own Chromebooks. Currently 1 to 1 devices are only at the high school level.
It would also allow for the purchase of 50 devices at the elementary school level.
Perez asked if the warrant article passes if it would allow them to have Zoom classes when there isn’t school, due to things like snow days.
Black said it wouldn’t be enough for all kids to have one at the elementary school level, but would allow it for the high school and middle school level.
The warrant article was sent to the ballot.
The Town Elections will take place on Tuesday, March 14.