School options weighed in Wilton-Lyndeborough district
LYNDEBOROUGH — The School Board for the Wilton-Lyndeborough School District is exploring options for either building a new school or renovating and reconfiguring its existing schools to accommodate the two towns’ elementary students.
The district held two public information sessions this week, one at Florence Rideout Elementary School in Wilton and one at Central School in Lyndeborough. At each of the sessions, parents and community members were given tours of the buildings and informed about what the district said are inadequacies in the two schools.
According to School Board member Fran Bujak, a thorough study of the two buildings was completed almost 10 years ago and showed significant problems with Florence Rideout and space needs at the Central School.
More than $200,000 a year has been spent making repairs to Florence Rideout, which was built in 1895 and added onto over the years, and an additional $2.7 million will be needed in the near future to bring the building up to par.
Central School, built in the 1940s and added onto since, has fewer problems after a renovation and the addition of kindergarten space last year, but the building lacks a gymnasium and has a very small library/learning lab, according to architect Kyle Barker, who has conducted studies of both schools.
There are several options on the table for voters to consider, said Bujak, and the board is attempting to flesh them out to see what the taxpayers would like to see happen with the schools.
The first option is to do nothing and to continue paying for repairs to the schools as necessary.
The second option is to build a new school on a new property and bring together the 221 Wilton and 69 Lyndeborough students in pre-kindergarten through grade five. The new school would cost more than $13.5 million.
The third option would involve an addition and major renovations to Florence Rideout to accommodate students from both towns in grades one through five. The kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students would then be sent to Central School.
The renovations would include bathrooms on each of the three floors at Florence Rideout — the bathrooms for the entire school are currently located in the basement — along with elevators, new classrooms, and other upgrades totaling $8.1 million. Central School would require $600,000 worth of renovations without a gymnasium being added, or $1.6 million with a gymnasium.
The articles of agreement for the two towns require that each town pay for the renovations to their own school, said Bujak, so that agreement would have to be reworked to make any of the plans feasible.