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Pelham voters to decide on $22.6 million school project

PELHAM — As in neighboring Salem, Pelham voters will be focusing more on school buildings than on candidates for office during the March 11 town election.

There are no contested races for the School Board, but voters are being asked to approve a $22.6 million high school renovation project.

Voters at the February school district deliberative session overwhelming support moving the project onto the town election ballot.

The renovations will help alleviate crowding and address all the school's state accreditation concerns, according to School Board Chairman Brian Carton.

The project includes a new two-story addition that would increase the total square-footage of the high school by nearly 50 percent, from 88,000 square feet to 130,000 square feet.

The project will increase the number of classrooms, increase the size of the existing classrooms, update the cafeteria and gym, add a new performing arts space and create additional parking.

The payment during the first year of the bond issue would include only $597,500 in interest payments, with a property tax impact of $124.66 for the owner of a home valued at $292,000, the average home valuation in town.

Residents will also vote on a proposed operating budget for the 2014-15 school year of $27,599,381. That figure is actually a slight decrease from the current year's approved budget of $27,666,009.

New collective bargaining agreements for teachers and educational assistants are also on the ballot.The teachers' contract would see an increase in salaries and benefits of $185,216 the first year and $199,696 the second year.The proposed educational assistants' contract would see an increase in salaries and benefits of $82,292 the first year and $42,999 the second year.

Polls are open on Tuesday, March 11, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Pelham High School.

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