Decision looms for kindergarten plan

LYNDEBOROUGH – Come March, voters here will finally have to make a decision on kindergarten – a decision they’ve failed to make for the last few years.

By state law, the school district has to provide kindergarten by September 2009. Twice – in 2006 and 2007 – voters rejected an expansion plan for Central School that would have included kindergarten. Both votes received a majority, but were short of the 60 percent required for a bond issue.

Last year, voters rejected a plan to pay tuition to a private kindergarten as a stopgap measure. The school board formed a new study committee to look at all of the options and make a recommendation. The choice of which option will be placed on the ballot has to be made by Dec. 1 in order to get state approval before the district deliberative session in February, Superintendent of Schools Leo Corriveau said.

The Lyndeborough School District operates under the Senate Bill 2 ballot voting law, in which all decisions are made at the polls rather than at the school district meeting.

Last week, the board and a half-dozen townspeople discussed the options, which they will now study. They will next meet as a group Oct. 27, when an option will be chosen, as well as a “Plan B,” should the preferred option again fail.

Options are:

An update of the previous plan – adding a kindergarten room and two classrooms to the east end of the school and renovating the school to provide special education rooms and a new library, plus redesigning the driveway.

The cost of that option has gone up “about 25 percent,” architect Kyle Barker said. What was originally proposed at about $750,000 will now cost “just under a million,” he said. Given the current economy, he added, “it could come down a little.”

The addition would be built to the higher standards required of a building designated as a community disaster shelter.

State aid would cover 75 percent of the kindergarten room and 30 percent of the rest. A five-year bond is being proposed.

Adding just the kindergarten room, or adding only one other classroom. Barker said neither plan is cost-effective because if a future expansion is needed, the costs would be much higher. Neither plan addresses the space problems and special-education needs of the current building.

A portable classroom. While the state would pay for the portable, it wouldn’t pay for installation. This option has been continually rejected by townspeople.

Barker said that if the addition were approved in March, it would be midsummer before construction could begin because of the length of time required for state permits. He couldn’t guarantee a completion date before December.

To offset that, the board said, it could be possible to rent space at the United Church, the location of the former Babes In School Land preschool, which meets the state requirements. A teacher would be hired who would move to the new building when it was ready.

“Between 12 and 14 kindergarten students are expected,” Principal Susan Tussing said.

Barker was asked “to provide the new numbers,” which he said he would get from contractors.