Billings urges Inter-Lakes board to put money away for capital improvements

MEREDITH — The Inter-Lakes School Board is being urged to commit itself to recommend putting money every year into a capital reserve fund to help soften the impact large-ticket expenditures can have on the district's budget and taxes paid by district residents.
Board member Mark Billings advised such a course of action during Tuesday evening's School Board meeting.
Billings, of Meredith, noted that the district is facing three capital improvement projects which are especially costly. One is a four-year phased replacement of the roof of Inter-Lakes Elementary School, which has a price tag estimated at $600,000. The second is repaving of a road used by school buses at the elementary school, as well as repairs and resealing of high school parking lot, at an expected cost of $145,000. The third is a proposal to spend $120,000 to replace the seats in the Inter-Lakes Community Auditorium at the high school.
Billings said that the district is putting more effort into planning further ahead for capital projects. He said district administrators are currently working on a 10-year capital improvement plan.
He said that putting $75,000 a year into a capital reserve account would help to prevent budget spikes that could otherwise occur due to big-ticket capital projects. Placing money in a capital reserve account requires approval of voters at the annual School District Meeting.
"Our first commitment is to our people," Billings noted. "But we have $20 million worth of facilities and the more we focus on maintaining and preserving our facilities we will save money in the long term."
NOTES: The board gave initial approval to district policies dealing with summer activities, safe-school measures, and advance placement courses. While there were little discussion on any of the policies, board member Carol Baggaley raised concern with a provision of the advance course policy that would allow a student to take an advance placement course regardless of that student's grades in the subject and whether the student satisfied the prerequisites for the course. Superintendent Mary Ellen Ormond said while teachers and school counselors have an important role in advising students what courses they should take, that if a student's parents wanted their child in a certain course then the school should defer to the parents' wishes. But Baggaley felt that was unfair to high-achieving students in advance placement courses. Ormond noted that Tuesday's vote was on a first reading of the policy and that the policy could be amended before being presented to the board for a second reading. The board must approve a policy twice before it is adopted. . . . . . The board voted to accept $3,300 in donations to support the Inter-Lakes Middle Tier and High School Theater Companies. The donations came from Meredith Village Savings Bank, Meredith Dental, Dr. Edward DeTolla, and the Inter-Lakes PTO. The board also voted to accept a $1,167 donations from the New Hampshire Electric Co-op Foundation to help pay for sixth graders at Sandwich Central School to visit four power plants in the state.