Gilmanton board says school is full, portable classroom needed

GILMANTON — The School Board has recommended adding a 2014 warrant article that, if passed, would add a modular classroom to the elementary school campus.

Superintendent John Fauci said yesterday that the proposed cost for the modular unit is $95,448. He said it would be connected to the school by a corridor so the students wouldn't have to go outside.

Fauci said enrollment has gradually been rising at the elementary school, hovering this year at just over 400 students.

"We've had a high of 408 and a low of 400," said Fauci noting that children often leave a school district or move into a school district during the school year.

He said several years ago the Gilmanton Elementary School topped out at 420 students and then dropped to as low as 386. Over the past few years, he said the numbers have been steadily increasing with higher student counts concentrated into the lower grades.

Enrollment numbers presented at the November meeting showed 50 kindergarten students, 46, first graders, 51 second graders, 42 third graders, 39 fourth graders, 36 fifth graders, 46 sixth graders, 49 seventh graders, and 44 eighth graders for a total of 402.

Fauci said the recommended modular warrant article is a prelude to the creation of a space needs committee — that will likely be comprised of a variety of people in the community, including two school board members, one administrator from the SAU, one building-level administrator, one Planning Board member, one Budget Committee member, two teachers, two parents, one para-educator, and one member of the community at large.

Draft minutes of the November meeting said that the committee will be tasked with a historical analysis of the school through the last 10 years as well as demographic studies and a walk-through of the building.

He recalled specific plans that were developed about seven or eight years ago for an addition and recommended the committee be provided with copies of that study as well.

The School Board has adopted a proposed operating budget for 2014-2015 of $9,766,221 which represents a less than 1 percent increase over this year.

Of that operating budget, Fauci said 44 student freshman are expected to be enrolled at Gilford High School next year under a 20-year agreement signed in 2003. Thirty-six seniors will graduate in June, meaning a net gain of eight students will be tuitioned to Gilford in 2014-215. About 30 percent of Gilford's High School students are from Gilmanton, or about 140 students.

Fauci said that if the projected total number of students tuitioned to Gilford for 2014-2-15 remains the same and the estimated $18,407 per pupil cost provided by Gilford School District officials stays the same, the tuition portion of the Gilmanton operation budget will increase by $255,000.

The School Board will present the proposed budget to the Budget Committee at 6 p.m. tonight at the Gilmanton Academy building.