Published Date Written by Michael Kitch
ALTON — After a false start a year ago, the School Board will again ask voters to raise and appropriate $18,665,536 to fund the renovation, reconstruction and expansion of Alton Central School when they go to the polls on Tuesday, March 12.
Jeff St. Cyr, who chairs the board, said that the project is the result of years of discussion and planning aimed at addressing safety concerns and space needs at the school, parts of which date from the 1950s.
"The school has been built in pieces with the last major renovation completed in the 1980s," he said. "It is time for a major renovation."
St. Cyr said that the project appeared on the ballot in 2012, but was nullified because of a flaw in the drafting of the warrant article. This year the special warrant article enjoys the unanimous support of the School Board. However, the Budget Committee deadlocked three-to-three in withholding its recommendation.
School Superintendent William Lander said that the project features a second story housing eight classrooms in 11,660-square-feet constructed atop classrooms on the ground floor, which by replacing eight modular classrooms will bring all instructional space under one roof. In addition, a new 7,644-square-foot gymnasium, which served Alton High School, will be added to the school and the existing gymnasium converted to a cafeteria and multi-purpose room.
Altogether 54,370-square-feet will undergo minor renovations and another 10,380-square-feet major renovations on the ground floor, where 28,347-square-feet of new space will be constructed.
Lander stressed that new electrical and mechanical systems will be installed, the entire building will be sprinkled and a failing roof replaced. "This project addresses genuine life safety concerns, including lighting and ventilation, as well as energy efficiency." he said.
The School Board seeks to borrow $17.7 million, which would be supplemented by $960,000 withdrawn from seven capital reserve and expendable trust funds, to finance the project.
St. Cyr said that it is an opportune time to borrow not only because interest rates are relatively very low but also because the outstanding debt for Prospect Mountain High School, which the town shares with Barnstead, is set to retire. Lander anticipated that the impact on the school portion of the tax rate would be less than $1 per $1,000 of assessed value.
The project will be thoroughly explained, along with the ramifications of the financing package, at the deliberative, or first, session of the annual school district meeting on Saturday, February 2 at Prospect Mountain High School, beginning at 1 p.m.