Letter to the Editor


Hampstead Central School - Building our Community's Future
Submitted By David Smith,Caitlin Parnell and Megan Malcolm    2-15-21

Hampstead Central School has been part of this town since the 1940's, when it was built to replace the previous Central School that burned down. Since then, we as a town supported expansion in the 1960's and the 1980's. Now, nearly 40 years since the last update, we are seeing growth in this community as younger generations of families that have been here decades, sometimes centuries, are having children and many new young families are moving in as they are attracted to our small-town community.

With all the changes over the years, we have been very fortunate to live here and be part of a supportive and loving community that embraces the needs of our children. This community continues to support a school system dedicated to the needs of the children's education and wellbeing.

We know that everyone believes that having a safe, clean, and properly sized school is the foundation for creating an improved and competitive learning environment for the current and future generations of children - children that are dreaming of becoming an architect, engineer, electrician, plumber, firefighter, dancer, or any other career choice. It all begins in our school system.

On March 9th, Hampstead voters get to show their support for our kids to continue to dream of what they want to be when they grow up.

Like in the 1960's and 1980's, Hampstead Central School has reached its maximum learning capacity. Since the 1980's we have been "creative" in finding ways to push a 20th century building to provide for a 21st century learning environment. For instance, we have:

- Used smaller spaces for dedicated learning areas,

- Modified old broom closets for specialized learning areas,

- Increased our class sizes to the limits despite feeling that it was not advantageous to our students' learning experience.

There are some in the community that believe we could simply add more classrooms by making choices that would ultimately decrease the quality of education that Hampstead can offer. Things like eliminating the art, music, and advanced learning rooms; moving a classroom into the gymnasium; reinvesting in trailers. These options are not beneficial to our community. They are stop gap measures that would cost the town, both in dollars, and in decreased educational opportunities.

Something needs to be done about space, and those are the options we are facing in this district. We have projected population growth that we have not seen for decades. The latter choices are undesirable, more expensive to the community than updating the building, and have a long-lasting negative impact on the educational quality required to be competitive with other nearby districts. Not to mention, we want our children to be as prepared for success as possible since they are the future caretakers of our generation.

Our School District has explored several responsible and cost-effective options with the team of architects, engineers, general contractors, and project managers who are experts in this area. The same experts who are working with other local schools to complete their projects on time and under budget. We only have to look to Salem, Pelham, and Hampton Falls to see those results and hear from those communities about the great job they have done.

We have provided the community with explanations of the need for space, and been transparent about the deficiencies in health, safety, and education that our students currently face. Over the past year we have worked with the construction team to remove $300,000 from the project cost without impacting form, fit, or function of the building improvements. We continue to look for additional cost savings and are highly confident there is an additional $600,000 that we will be able to save on the total cost if the warrant articles are approved.

We will continue to explore other opportunities such as grants and energy efficiencies to get the lowest cost possible and reduce the tax impact to all of us! With interest rates under one percent, an all-time low, we cannot see this project being cheaper for our community at any point in the future. We do see the student population increasing more than 150 students this decade, which means the need isn't going anywhere, but will cost more in the future. This is our reality, and the time to do something about it is now.

Hampstead Central School is much more than a building. For more than 80 years, the school has been a place of education and a center for community events. It is much more than an educational institution and is at the heart of the community. Please reach out to any of us to learn more about the project that will allow our school to continue to build a future for the children in our community, or visit HCS Renovations Website.

Caitlin Parnell, Megan Malcolm, and David Smith,
Hampstead Residents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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