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Middleton residents asked to weigh in on proposed school

Union Leader Correspondent

January 15. 2014 9:52PM

MIDDLETON — After getting their plan to withdraw from Farmington schools accepted by the state Board of Education on Tuesday, school officials are encouraging residents to attend a hearing to discuss a $6.6 million bond to build a new school.

At the bond hearing, which will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Old Town Hall along King's Highway, the community can comment and district officials will give a presentation on the proposal to allocate a $6,592,500 for a new school and to make the initial payment by withdrawing funds from the surplus — the fund balance available after June 30.

While the potential impact to the town's tax rate has not yet been calculated, officials estimate it will take $2.9 million to operate the new school. The school board also believes the total cost of the operating budget, tuition to Gov. Wentworth Regional School District in Wolfeboro and annual bond payments would be about $3.77 million.

Last year, residents approved a total operating budget of $3,545,599, which includes tuition payments for local students to attend Farmington schools.

The Middleton Budget Committee and the Middleton School Board will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Old Town Hall to discuss the proposed budget.

District matters will also be discussed during the annual deliberative session, which is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 8, and residents will decide on all issues when polls open March 11.

Middleton residents must decide whether to agree to withdraw from Farmington schools, approve a tuition agreement with the Gov. Wentworth district and vote on a bond to build the new school, which requires a 60 percent majority to pass.

Residents of the six communities in Gov. Wentworth — Brookfield, Effingham, New Durham, Ossipee, Tuftonboro and Wolfeboro — also must approve the tuition agreement in March.

Per the withdrawal plan, all four articles must pass or the community's students would remain in Farmington schools, according to school board member Ken Garry.

"If one does not pass, none of it passes," Garry said during a Jan. 10 meeting of the Committee to Study the Feasibility of Withdrawal from the Authorized Regional Enrollment Area (AREA) Agreement.

After studying the issue for the past six months, Middleton officials proposed a phased withdrawal from Farmington. As a result, grades 7 through 12 would attend Gov. Wentworth after July 1, 2015. The remaining students in pre-kindergarten through grade 6 would move into the new school the following year, if approved by residents.

In October, school officials formed a building committee to study the feasibility of building a school on a 55-acre parcel owned by the district in town. The committee will present residents with its findings at the annual school district meeting in February.

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