The Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) is meant to be just that: a way to improve the community in order to bring more prosperity and growth to the Town of Londonderry. One huge improvement that is on the schedule for the six-year CIP is adding two new structures: an auditorium and a new elementary school.
Both of these topics were presented during the discussion of the CIP by the CIP Committee last year, though it had not yet been decided that the new school would be an elementary school.
The auditorium is presented as a new outlet for the district’s music and performing arts programs, but will also be open to other community programs and organizations. It is planned to seat under 1,000, and the price is set at around $9 million.
At the August 21 CIP Committee meeting, Londonderry School District Business Administrator Peter Curro gave the update on the plan for the auditorium. Curro explained that while some might not view the auditorium as a necessity, it is an accreditation issue based on the five-year New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) conducted and published in March of 2015. The lack of a substantial auditorium is considered a “facilities deficiency.”
“Our accreditation could be at risk,” explained School Board Member Steve Young to Budget Committee Member Christine Patton, who questioned whether or not there were state requirements of having an auditorium.
Curro further expressed that the lack of a proper auditorium is a “scheduling nightmare,” because until the auditorium gets built, all the students and programs compete for a single space: the high school gymnasium.
“We juggle and we make due,” he expressed.
The funding will come for a general education bond that can be paid over a span of 20 years, partially through the use of tax revenue. Donations and grants would cover the rest, but none have been named or received yet.
Last year, the project was set to begin in Fiscal Year 2019, with construction occurring in Fiscal Year 2020, but Curro advocated that there are more pressing issues, like a new SAU office, and that the committee can push it off a few years. At the end of the meeting, the committee decided to advise pushing back this particular project to the final year of the six-year plan, 2024.
The other new structure Curro presented was a new elementary school. Curro expressed that the idea is not a new one, though it is not a part of last year’s plan, and it heavily depends on the continued enrollment increase in the Londonderry schools. The project is estimated to cost around $26 million, and be able to host around 500 students, similar to both North School and South Schools, whose numbers are at 450 and 525, respectively.
The timing for the launch of construction is somewhat up in the air because it depends so much on enrollment. Curro estimates that the project could come about in three to four years, and the committee ultimately decided to advise the project for beginning in year 2023, though if numbers spike drastically before then, Curro said the School District would need to decide when to “pull the trigger” to make the transition as smooth as possible.