School options weighed

WINDHAM – In case a Pelham-Windham high school never happens, the town’s School District is creating several committees to ponder a one-town facility, school officials say.

The district is looking to create facilities, athletics, communications and steering committees in the near future. The steering committee will give suggestions to the School Board before key votes.

The efforts are preparatory, in the event that Pelham and Windham voters reject a joint high school Sept. 14, as they did in January. Windham’s agreement with Salem High School ends in 2008, and Pelham High School is past its expiration date.

“Really, when you think about it, what you really want to happen (is for) both towns to be ready,” said Elaine Cutler, superintendent of the Pelham and Windham school districts.

A local newspaper submission already calls for residents to come forward to serve on the steering committee, according to Bev Donovan, who is heading the committee effort. Applications are expected to flow in next week.

The committee will consist of one School Board member, the superintendent, a town representative, a schoolteacher or administrator, a parent, a chairperson or member of each of the other committees and three at-large members, who can be any town resident over 18, Donovan said.

“Once we get all those applications back, we probably would form (committees) in a few days,” she said.

Also, people will be needed to handle public relations, finances and grants, she added.

Donovan stressed that anybody who does not want to be on a committee should participate in the high school debate anyway, by showing up at committee meetings – if only periodically.

“Even if they’re not on a committee, we would certainly like to hear their input,” she said. Upcoming committee meetings will be posted as soon as they are scheduled.

Also, a curriculum committee has been in place for months, Cutler said. Curriculum is the first order of business for new school districts, she said, because academics determine everything thereafter.

It is unclear yet what a Windham or joint high school would be strong in.

“You have to decide on the curriculum before you decide on the facility,” she said.

The School Board is seeking townspeople’s opinions.

Residents can expect surveys in the mail after today, asking their thoughts on a possible Windham high school. The surveys are due at the Nesmith Library on June 11.

The Pelham-Windham Cooperative School Committee will find out whether the state Board of Education green-lights its proposal to go before voters as soon as June 16, the board’s next monthly meeting. The panel on Tuesday unanimously voted to go ahead after a public hearing.

Windham school officials have looked into a land parcel that fits the joint high school’s requirements, but could also be used as a one-town high school or elementary school. Pelham school officials have done the same.