Central School needs outlined

LYNDEBOROUGH – The Central School is out of space, essentially because the building doesn’t meet current state standards for classroom size – two of them date to 1949 – and services have expanded over the years.

Those services include a library and a computer lab as well as a wide range of special education specialists, such as speech, occupational and physical therapists, all required under state standards. The school’s activity room is shared by art, music and physical education as well as doubling as a lunchroom and a place for assemblies.

Therapists and tutors frequently meet with students in the halls.

Last March, voters approved hiring an architect to make suggestions, which has been done. A committee was formed this fall to study the question of what to do next. That committee has decided to “look outside the box,” and consider just about any possible solution to the space problem.

“When we go to district meeting we have to able to answer any possible question,” School Board member Steve Brown said at a recent committee meeting. “We can’t say we didn’t look into that.”

The committee at first decided there were four options: a new school on a new site; expansion and renovation of the present school; making only necessary renovations such as bathrooms and kitchen; or doing nothing.

A side issue being considered is moving the sixth grade to space available at Wilton-Lyndeborough Middle School, which was built with the sixth-graders in mind. To do so would require a change in the district’s Articles of Agreement, which limits the cooperative school to grades 7-12.

There are also several life-safety issues to consider, committee members said, including air quality, presence of mold and future asbestos abatement. The committee is working with the fire chief and town health officer to come up with solutions.

School Board members said they can’t “do nothing” because there are too many problems to address.

The school has six classrooms for the six grades, with about 100 students. There is also a small library, a computer lab, one small room in the basement for guidance or other services, a small room (the original office) for special education, an inadequate nurse’s office and the activity room. In the past, before the expansion of extra services, the population ranged up to 120 students. Students once walked to the town library, a solution now considered impractical because of the time involved and liability issues.

The “outside-the-box thinking” has produced a variety of options to be considered. These include:

n Using a room at the middle school for the sixth grade, but not making the sixth grade part of the school.

n Paying for students to attend another school.

n Using portable classrooms.

n Adding a two-story section to the present school.

n Using space in some other town building, such as Citizens’ Hall.

n Sending the sixth grade to the Wilton Elementary School if there is room.

It was agreed that many of the above options did not appear to be feasible or practical, but will be looked at anyway, in case the idea is proposed at district meeting.

The committee is in the process of putting together a questionnaire, which will be sent to all residents. They want to get a sense of what townspeople want before preparing warrant articles for district meeting in February.