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Windham parents say they want solutions to school overcrowding

WINDHAM — Parents attending Tuesday’s Windham School Board meeting emphasized the need for better communication during a session on overcrowding and the facility upgrades they would like to see.

About two dozen citizens attended the July 23 meeting with school board members Michael Joanis, Jerome Rekart and Michelle Farrell and Superintendent Winfried Feneberg. Board members Stephanie Wimmer and Dennis Senibaldi didn’t attend.

School overcrowding has been a tough topic in recent years, though attempts to address those problems failed to pass muster with voters at the past two Town Meetings.

In March 2012, voters rejected a ballot item that would have added modular classrooms to address space needs and fund architectural and engineering in the design of the new seventh and eighth grade school. In March, a warrant article to build a new school on London Bridge Road, near the new high school, along with a new high school turf field, also was rejected.

The School Board is considering placing another item on the spring ballot.

Jim Dreyfus said he hoped to see a warrant article for a new running track on the 2014 ballot because the district has no track.

“I see our children falter because of it,” he told the board, noting he felt a combination track and turf field similar to the one used in the Bedford school district might be the best option.

Farrell noted that adding a new track would likely be an expensive project as the high school doesn’t have enough fields cleared to build one.

“That means we’d have to go into a different area that’s not developed yet,” Farrell said.

Julie Kaplan said she’s “all for exploring options” when it comes to adding more educational space. “I’m no facilities or budget expert, but as a parent I think we need to find a solution,” she added.

Donna InDelicato said her daughter will start sixth grade this fall.

“She’s in the pea soup right now,” she said, noting the crowding issues at the middle school. “This need isn’t a want by any stretch of the imagination; it is urgent and critical.”

“There’s a Spanish class in the middle of the library,” she said. “There is no more making do and it’s not a matter of teachers — we already have the best.”

Feneberg urged citizens to come by the schools and see for themselves. “Once fall begins, we can certainly organize walk-throughs, and I’d love to hear everyone’s suggestions,” the superintendent said.

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