$9,425,000 to upgrade the Lamprey River Elementary School in Raymond
By Cheryl Killam 2-16-17
The 2017 Raymond School Deliberative Session lasted just about 4-1/2 hours, with a lot of questions answered and emotions flying.
Warrant Article 2 asks voters to approve $9,425,000 bond, $1,175,000 more than last year, for the construction, furnishing and equipping of an addition to the Lamprey River Elementary School. The proposal, turned down by the voters last year, was put forth for the second year in a row to give students 12 additional classrooms in a new building, relocate administration offices for safer and easier school entry, and implement a newly proposed drop-off and pick-up car lane to get waiting cars off Old Manchester Road.
Also in the plan is a new gymnasium with a secured entrance, bathroom facilities and a lobby that can be locked off from the rest of the school for public use. The bond would also replace the portable classrooms in use at the school.
Issues presented in support of the addition were that the Physical Education teacher shares an office with the storage room, the Nursing office has no privacy and the Special Education room is over-crowded.
Meridian Construction has been selected to take on the project. It will warrantee their construction workmanship for two years after the completion of the project.
The building addition sits outside of the 100-year flood plain and Meridian recommended a “VRF” (Variable Refrigerant Flow2) energy efficient heating and cooling system in the design. They plan to begin work in October 2017 and be done by end of January 2019 if voters approve the bond.
Resident Gary MacLean asked questions for almost an hour, raising multiple concerns about adding onto the existing building rather than constructing a completely new school. While he claimed the structure was not sound, the addition is a new two-story building and is not a second floor over the old building. His questions were addressed by the school board members, Meridian President Tim Long and school facilities director Todd Ledoux.
Parent Timothy Mailloux supports the school project and said he has lived in Raymond since 2008 and visited the school many times. He said, “the gym class is a disaster, and I saw a special needs session happening in the hallway; that’s horrible. We need this for the students.
School Board member John Harmon said the proposal was put forth to meet the needs of the district going forward, while resident Sandi Ellis added that the district is not receiving state aid for construction, as it did for the middle school. After all questions had been addressed, Article 2 was voted to be moved to the ballot without any changes.
Article 3 asks to raise and appropriate $23,893,248 for the operating budget. Kathleen Mann motioned to amend the amount by $187,000, reducing it to $23,706, 248, stating that she noticed a significant surplus.
Harmon explained that budget planning begins in August and takes 11 months of information for the estimates. “We do not know what future costs will be for things such as electric and oil,” he said. “We must estimate the budget for raises and salaries and address the contract increases, health insurance, teacher replacement salary increases, and general supplies.”
After considerable explanation of the budget items and secret ballot voting, the amendment failed with 47 No to 27 Yes votes. Article 3 was moved to the ballot as written.
A very full meeting room for the school deliberative.
There was minimal discussion on Article 4 (Raymond Educational Support Staff contract) and no discussion on Article 5 (calling a special meeting if Article 4 fails), both were moved to the ballot as written.
Article 6 asks to raise and appropriate $214,000 for the Capital Reserve Fund. The plan is to replace security cameras and bathrooms at Lamprey River Elementary School and air conditioning for administrative offices and guidance counselors, as well as paving outside the kitchen entrance area of the high school. The article was moved to the ballot as written.
Article 7 would allow the School Board to place unspent money at the end of the school year, not to exceed $50,000, into the Equipment, Facilities Maintenance, and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund (CRF).
Joshua Mann motioned to reduce the amount to $21,400. School board chair Jaclyn Sirine said the both the town and the school CIP’s (Capital Improvement Programs) are underfunded, and said this is the creative way to make up debt. The amendment failed, with 24 No votes to 16 Yes. Article 7 was moved to the ballot as written.
Article 8 asks the voters to approve an easement on school property to build a new town well. Public Works Director Steve Brewer said, “This is critical to accommodate the increased need of water. The three wells currently at Cider Ferry Road are at maximum capacity. This new well benefits all users, including 200 commercial and 1,000 residential users.”
Resident Kathleen Hoelzel said she was in full support of the article because it is needed for fire protection. Resident Jack Barnes said he was in favor of the article so the town can have sufficient water to support future economic development.
Article 9 asks the voters if they approve of the School Board’s plan to outsource the food service program. Many residents spoke against this proposal and expressed concern over the possibility of the loss of up to 16 local jobs. Mann said the human cost is too high and made a motion to amend the article to say “not advise the school board” to approve the plan to outsource. Harmon said this is an effort to level fund food services costs.
After input from Hoelzel and the school board attorney, who suggested it not be amended in a way that could confuse voters because it is only an advisory article, Mann rescinded his amendment. Article 9 was moved to the ballot as written.
Resident Jonathan Hanson came up to mic and said, “ I have been watching this from home and I came in to speak because I have never seen such a crew of debacles in my life. ‘‘
Moderator Tim Louis told Hanson that the session was not addressing past articles.
Hanson asked to continue to speak and was allowed, saying, “I have been listening to what the school board has done throwing around money and it’s OK to have surplus, but when it comes time to chop heads, that’s where we are going to save money, on the little guy?”
Louis interrupted Hanson with, “I said at the beginning of the meeting we are not going to make personal attacks on what the school board has done.“
Hanson left the room while his wife, Dana Hanson, who was sitting at the back of the room, said, right before she stormed out of the meeting room, “We are citizens and we have the right to speak. This whole town is corrupt.”
Ellis spoke on Article 10, a citizen’s petition expressing concern for residents’ food service jobs. She asked how much money is owed for breakfasts and lunches to the schools. Finance Director Ron Brickett said, “a little over $7,000 is owed by the parents for students’ meals to the Food Service Department, and the only way to collect it may be to take them to small claims court.“ Article 10 was moved to the ballot as written.
Candidates Night Moderator Christina Vogel noted there are two seats open on the school board and the public is welcome to sign up for them.
In the end, there were no modifications to any of the school district warrant articles.
RCFY students selling food: Rachael Cormier Joscalyn Gallo, Timothy Carta, Alexandria Hovalter and Alayna Mackie.
To read a detailed description of what a YES vote versus a NO vote will mean visit the Raymond Voter Information Project Website.
To watch the school deliberative session on RCTV
click on Raymond School Deliberative Session
Be Sure To Come Out and Vote on March 14.