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Hooksett residents to vote on school upgrades

HOOKSETT — Voters will get to weigh in on some proposed upgrades to two of the town’s schools at the upcoming town meeting.

The school board is looking to tackle three projects next year: adding an addition to the Fred C. Underhill Elementary School, tackling some other recommended fixes at that school and repairing the athletic fields the David R. Cawley Middle School.

Members decided to have SAU 15 administrators draft a warrant for a roughly $4 million bond to pay for the addition and to get rid of the portable classrooms at the school. The bond would be paid off over a decade.

An addition also would help to make room for a full-day kindergarten program for Hooksett students.

With the program could come a new relationship with Southern New Hampshire University. Superintendent Charles “Phil” Littlefield said he’s been in talks with the college about using Underhill as a professional development school for those majoring in early education, though nothing is official yet.

“There’s more than a casual interest in what we’re proposing,” he said.

An extra $100,000 will be added to a line item in the operating budget as well to help cover some of the repairs needed at Underhill as well.

A list of recommendations regarding the Hooksett elementary school was given to the board and administrators by the H.L. Turner Group out of Concord, who did a facilities assessment.

Not all of the items are going to be done in one year, officials said.

“We’re going to prioritize those,” said Karen Lessard, the business administrator for the district. “Those will be the items that we add into the operating budget next year.”

The final item that will need to be addressed are the athletic fields at the Cawley middle school, like drainage problems that leave the field somewhat flooded at times.

That work is expected to cost $404,539, which the warrant article will call to be paid for using whatever money is leftover from this year’s budget.

What exactly will be left over is unknown at this point.

“It’s so early in the budget year, we don’t know,” Littlefield said.

But Lessard said the fund balance for the 2016-17 year was $1.5 million.

The school board decided to take these different approaches to funding would help to alleviate the burden on the taxpayers.

These are just some of what the board and the SAU 15 district team will be drafting to present to voters as preparations for Town Meeting start in the coming weeks.

“There’s a lot of to do between now and March,” Littlefield said.

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