Moose Hill School Addition Article Moves to March Ballot

For months, there have been discussion about whether or not the town should move forward with a expansion project for Moose Hill, to address what officials describe as major issues with overcrowding in the school.
Ahead of a vote in March, voters had the chance to debate the warrant article during the Feb. 10 School District Deliberative Session.
The overcrowding project would be $23.1 million, and would address the overcrowding needs. Previously, the overcrowding project at Moose Hill and full-day kindergarten were part of the same warrant article, however, it was decided by the School Board to separate them to give voters to weigh in on both separately.
It would include 24,646 square feet of additions and renovations, including renovating seven learning spaces, adding 15 new learning – therapy or office spaces, adding five adult bathrooms, compared to only having one now, renovating the main office, and making a safer school entrance along with other improvements.
Budget Committee Secretary, Maureen Hardy, who voted against recommending the warrant article, expressed concerns about the costs of the project, saying she thinks “the costs are extremely high,” based on her research, she thought that the cost per square foot should be lower than what they are proposing.
She also said enrollment has been down for 10 years, and there is no guarantee that it will go up “dramatically in the future.”
Town Councilor, Ted Combes, who was one of the members of the Building Committee, which was tasked with vetting the costs, said they didn’t think the numbers were wrong, saying they were “right in line” with building costs.
Bryan Young, a resident in town, said “ultimately it’s best for all our kids in the community,” and said while his kids are all past going to Moose Hill, he would still be supporting it, in order to help support future students.
One question raised by community member, Scott Harrington, was if they have students outside the district attending kindergarten at Moose Hill, and if so, what the cost is.
Superintendent, Dan Black, said “not to my knowledge,” about students coming from out of district, but he would get back to him after confirming.
Budget Committee Vice Chair, Joseph Gagnon, who went to school in Londonderry, and at one point had classes in a portable classroom for a year and a half, said that the fact that students are in portable classrooms, or have to use hallways for learning at times, is something he views as concerning.
“This addition will handle the additional space needs that we do need,” he said.
Budget Committee member, Maureen Hardy, in her lengthy statement at the Deliberative Session, also expressed concerns about cumulative tax increases due to other projects.
She said a “roughly five million dollar SAU building is coming next and then an 107 million dollar High school project.”
“We just got the bond for the five million infrastructure warrant from last year. All of these costs are additive and last for 15 to 20 years depending on the bond,” Hardy said. “The low estimate of Operating cost increases for the New Moose Hill is $349,000. This alone adds 6 cents to the tax rate to the 41 cents for the expansion with all day Kindergarten and the Infrastructure bond. This is a minimum addition to our yearly tax rate of 55.5 cents.”

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