Warrant Article for School District Office Sent to Ballot

By Alex Malm

After a committee was formed earlier this year to explore the possibility of building a new District Office, the Londonderry School Board had a bond hearing for the project during the Jan. 18 School Board meeting.

Because of serious air quality issues at the Mammoth Rd., Complex the School District had to move its District office to Kitty Hawk in 2018 where they have 10 one year leases. It essentially means that while they are in a 10 year lease they only need to give eight months notice in order to get out of the lease.

School Board member Scott Slater was one of the members of the Committee and said that while “nobody’s pleasantly surprised with the price of things today,” he said that it would make sense for the long term financials of the District to pay to own their own building instead of leasing.

He also said it’s not a good thing to have a lease with a private landowner for any municipal buildings.

During the meeting it was announced that the total projected budget for the project is $4,799,082.

It was explained by Londonderry Business Administrator Peter Curro that the total bond amount would be $4.5 million, which will be paid back over the course of 20 years.

In year one of the lease which will have construction going on the School District will need to pay $206,130 for the lease of the current building along with $45,000 in interest for a total of $251,300. They will also have to pay a one time cost of $200,000 for fit up costs.

After that Curro said that the payment will be $274,000 a year on average. But because of the money they will be saving on the lease each year it will ultimately be an increase of $68,730 a year.

The bond rate is expected to be at 2 percent and Curro said that the bond rate moves very slowly.

“Bond rates you know don’t move quickly,” said Curro.

During public comment Amy Wheeler asked how large the previous building was. Curro said that it was 6,800 square feet.

It led to Wheeler pointing out that the proposed building is larger.

“So we’re going up about 3,000 square feet for about the same amount of staff that we had before,” said Wheeler.

She also questioned if there was any consideration to reduce the size of some of the larger rooms including conference rooms.

School Board Chair Amy Finamore said that not all of the square footage would be dedicated to office space due to the way it’s laid out.

She also noted that they need good sized conference room space so staff can work together on various projects in person.

“They do a tremendous amount of collaborative work,” said Finamore.

Curro said that the School Board had to take two different votes during the meeting. The first was to allow the question to go to the ballot. The second is whether or not the School Board supports it.

“I see no reason to not move this forward to the warrant,” said School Board member Greg DePasse.

He said that a lot of work has gone into it and that the financing is almost cost neutral. It was also noted by DePasse that this would be just moving it to the ballot.

“At least it moves it to the next step,” said DePasse.

School Board Vice Chair Sara Loughlin said that she agreed with getting out of Kitty Hawk as soon as possible but doesn’t think they exhausted all of their options within the District temporarily for offices.

It was also pointed out by Slater that they may not have the space available to build the new office in a couple of years.

The estimated tax impact is five cents per $1,000 of property value.

The School Board voted 5-0 in favor of sending the bond warrant article to the deliberative session.

The School Board ultimately voted 3-2 against supporting the warrart. Slater and DePasse were the two Board members in support of it.

Following the School Board vote the Budget Committee voted 7-0 in support of the warrant article.

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