NEWMARKET — Next spring, voters will have an opportunity to vote on school facility issues facing the town, and the preliminary pricetag has been established.
More than 50 people attended the latest forum on Saturday hosted by the school facilities committee to outline three proposals for the junior/senior high school and elementary School. The committee provided insight into what those costs could be, topping off at $49.7 million.
“Our goal is to have something on the ballot in March,” said facilities committee chairman Mike Kenison. “We’ve decided to address the needs of both schools. We want to meet all the needs at once. Right now, our most important goal is getting public input.”
The facilities committee, with public input, will decide on renovating NES and either renovating or constructing a new junior/senior high school. This will be on the March ballot.
After outlining the three proposals, Preston Hunter of construction manager Eckman Construction of Bedford unveiled what many were waiting to hear – the cost.
If the option were to be renovating the existing NJSHS and renovating NES, that would mean a bond of $39,872,555. If the new construction were paired with renovating NES, that would be $49,674.097. Over the next few weeks, Eckman and Banwell Architects (Lebanon) will work with the facilities committee in an effort to reduce the estimate.
One resident asked what the tax impact would be, saying people will want to know how this will affect them.
“The bond market is dynamic,” said Superintendent Meredith Nadeau. “We’d be looking at a 20-year bond. The formula for each 10 million you borrow is a 94-cent-per-thousand valuation tax impact. So for example, for a $40 million bond, the tax impact would be $3.75. For $50 million, it would be $4.69. Right now, interest rates are the best we’ll see.”
Architects Ingrid Nichols and Jeremiah Goulet of Banwell Architects of Lebanon outlined the three proposals. The first calls for renovating NES. It includes a new gym on the back of the school and nine new classrooms off the kindergarten wing. These would be for a four-room suite for fifth-grade, two preschool classrooms, a kindergarten classroom and a flex room.
This would allow the district to get rid of the portable classrooms that have been behind NES for several years. The estimate on this work, presented by Eckman, is $10,201,875.
NES Principal Sean Pine said he sees the space challenges every day.
“In the nurse's office, she’s doing two feedings a day, diaper changes, and there are kids constantly coming in for medicine,” Pine said. “There is only one space for a bed to lie down in, with only a curtain separating the area. The psychologist’s office is a glorified broom closet. One-on-one meetings are OK, but it’s impossible for a group."
The size of the cafeteria also impacts students. “We have to get six lunches in the cafeteria," Pine said. "I start lunches at 10:45 and go up to 1:20. The kids have maybe 10 or 15 minutes to eat after they get through the lunch line. A bigger cafeteria would mean I could have two grades eat at a time and they’d have more time to eat.”
The next presentation called for renovating NJSHS, parts of which were constructed in 1923. The proposal includes additions to both sides of the building. This would be additional classroom space, a larger kitchen, a music wing and space for athletic teams.
The former Carpenter greenhouse property across the street would be utilized for parking and possibly athletic fields. The renovation would include a “cafetorium,” which would serve double-duty as a cafeteria and a performance space. The latter would be used by NJSHS and NES.
The estimate on this project came in at $29,670,680, so combined with the NES renovation, would mean a total of $39,872,555.
The third proposal, a new junior/senior high school, would be located entirely on the Carpenter property, with parking around the existing school. Nichols said the new building includes a cafetorium, media space, music wing and several open locker areas for team meetings.
There would be separation of the middle and high school students, with the exception of gym and cafeteria areas and “specials” classes. Cost is estimated at $39,472,222, so in addition to the NES renovations, that would mean a total of $49,674,097.
According to Hunter, the projects would take approximately two full summers and one school year. The NJSHS renovation would take a little longer than the new construction. Construction would likely begin in summer of 2018 for NES, to be completed in summer of 2019, while NJSHS would begin in spring 2018 and be completed in winter 2020.
The next steps include seeking more public input in November and then public outreach from November through March. Kenison urged residents to attend the forums, facilities committee or School Board meetings, or just reach out with their opinions.
For more information, visit http://facilitiescommittee.newmarket.k12.nh.us/home.