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July 12. 2013 8:40PM

Lamprey River Elementary addition not in mix for 2014

RAYMOND — The School Board voted Wednesday night not to move forward with a bond proposal in March 2014 for an addition to the Lamprey River Elementary School.

Board members spent nearly two hours discussing whether to go ahead with a reduced project that would have added classrooms to replace the portable units that house about 10 classrooms.

Although board members expressed concern for the safety of students traveling back and forth between the detached portables and the main school building during the day, some felt those concerns could be addressed without a full addition to the school.

The Lamprey River Elementary School Building Committee has been working since October 2011 on a proposal to deal with space and security concerns at the elementary school.

They paid Bonnette, Page and Stone of Laconia about $25,000 to develop a conceptual design for renovating and adding onto the school, before learning a town ordinance regarding the Lamprey River floodplain would make any project there difficult, if not impossible.

The committee then spent about $3,000 looking at alternatives for a new school building elsewhere, but found the costs to be too high.

And then the state Legislature voted in a new biennial budget last month that does not include any funding for school building aid, leading the committee to scale back plans to only address the classroom needs of the school in the hope that local taxpayers would agree to pay the bill.

And that is what they presented the school board with Wednesday. But to come up with the design and move forward with a bond proposal, Bonnette, Page and Stone requested another $25,000 for the work.

Board members voted down a motion to move forward with the bond by a vote of 2-2-1, with Stephen Reardon abstaining.

“I am not in favor of this without any state reimbursement and the economy still being the way it is. You’re shooting your foot … why can’t we just try to look at better ways so that in two years we’re ready to go when state funding could be back up and running,” board member Tina Thomas said.

Board member Daniel Chouinard said he did not feel comfortable moving ahead with the expenditure because he did not feel he had enough information. Reardon agreed.

“What is challenging me and I think some of the other board members is we just don’t feel we have the necessary information to vote up or down on a bond tonight,” Reardon said.

Board member Kelly Lehman said she felt the board needed to present something to voters in March to address the safety concerns.

It is unclear what happens now.

Building committee chairman Alec O’Meara said if the board is no longer interested in a long-term solution, then the committee’s charge is no longer valid.

Resident and building committee member Jack Barnes asked selectmen to come up with something to address the safety issues of the portables.“I think we owe it to the parents and the kids to fix that stupid situation down there with those portable schools we have at the elementary school,” Barnes said.

gmacalaster@newstote.com


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