LONDONDERRY — A $4 million bond for district-wide renovations and repairs will appear on the March ballot.
No one from the public commented during the Londonderry School Board’s public bond and budget hearing Thursday night, and following a lengthy discussion, the board voted unanimously in support of the budget item.
The bond will next be discussed during the school deliberative session on Feb. 7, with a final vote to take place March 11.
The 10-year bond is $500,000 less than the one voters rejected at the March 2013 Town Meeting, according to Facilities Director Chuck Zappala.
If the bond passes this spring, the money would be used for roof replacements at Londonderry Middle School ($735,000), repaving of the Matthew Thornton Elementary School parking lot ($600,000), roof repairs at Londonderry High School (($1,060,000), paving the middle school parking lot ($250,000), a roof replacement at Moose Hill School ($410,000), repaving the middle school parking lot ($350,000), renovations to the high school’s cafeteria and kitchen ($100,000), paving segments of the parking area at Moose Hill School ($70,000), district-wide field improvements ($350,000) and district-wide security upgrades ($200,000).
Business Administrator Peter Curro said he hoped the bond would pass this time around, as several projects cannot wait much longer.
The ultimate goal, he noted, would be to begin repairs this coming summer, when classes aren’t in session.
“During the budgeting process, we’re always being asked if things can wait another year. Usually the answer is yes,” Curro said on Thursday. “But this year I can tell you for sure the answer is no in several cases.”
In the case of the middle school roof, for instance, school officials are hoping help comes sooner rather than later. Zappala said a 60-foot seam opened up in that school’s roof last year and had that occurred during a major storm, the school would have been filled with “hundreds of thousands of gallons of water.”
“If that had been the case, we’d have been forced to relocate some classes and tackle some very expensive repairs,” he said. “Right now we’ve been extra vigilant with our inspections and have been checking the roofs before and after any weather events.”
Curro said the $4 million bond seems to be the most prudent option for financing major projects at this juncture, as it would allow for the time needed to structure funding of the Maintenance Trust Fund.
“Long-term financing is preferred because it has less overall impact on the annual tax rate and allows us the flexibility to seek the best bids,” he added.
Though it remains to be determined, initial quotes from the state Municipal Bond Bank indicate the school district would be eligible for a 3 percent interest rate if the bond item passes for next year.
“Our intent would be to group the roofing projects into one bid, though most likely we’d need two contractors to complete all of the work,” Zappala said.
District-wide security upgrades, based on the recommendations of the local police department and a security consultant, would result in remodeling the front entrances of all the district schools so all visitors would enter into an enclosed vestibule and have to identify themselves before being allowed into the main building.