MIDDLESEX — Residents in Middlesex will be asked to vote May 14 on a proposed $4.5 million bond to renovate Rumney Memorial School.
The bond would be used for repairs and upgrades on the roof and in the kitchen, more bathrooms and a small addition to the art room, and other projects.
An informational meeting on the projects will be held at the school May 7 at 6:30 p.m.
Bill Kimball, superintendent of the Washington Central Supervisory Union, said the bond would help the school take care of years of deferred maintenance and bring the school up to code for fire safety.
Julie Moore, chairwoman of the Rumney School Board, said the planning for the bond issue began in the summer of 2011 when the board members noted their outgoing kindergarten class had 35 students in it, far above the average of about 20 in earlier years, resulting in crowding and shortage of space.
There were also maintenance issues that had been bypassed in earlier years, such as a roof that needed to be reshingled, as well as a bathroom shortage and an aging boiler. Moore said it made more sense to replace the boiler rather than “keep putting good money after bad sinking $5,000 into a 1971 boiler.”
To address what Moore called the “population bubble” that Rumney is experiencing, the board convened its facilities work group to explore possible solutions. Moore said the group realized it needed professional assistance and was given approval by voters at town meeting last year to pay for a professional evaluation.
Moore said the assessment, which was completed in October, recommended $5.7 million in renovations to the school. She said that was too much money for the town to manage, so the plans were scaled back and the estimated cost was trimmed to $4.5 million.
The roof repairs would address structural deficiencies, replace worn roofing materials and increase the roof’s insulation. The kitchen would be doubled in size and would get a larger, more efficient freezer and cooler.
Some of the projects that were cut from the original proposal were new sidewalks, a new parking lot, lighting for the parking lot, and resurfacing of the gymnasium floor.
The overcrowding will be addressed by the art room expansion, which Moore said would allow the school to combine the art and music instruction. It would also allow the existing art room to be used as an extra classroom, if needed.
“It gives us a relief valve to handle a population bubble without building classroom space,” she said.
The board has held several public forums to discuss the projects, and Moore said the biggest concern expressed is one that’s familiar to school boards statewide — the cost.
“Even the people who have commented on how high the price tag seems are hard pressed to identify things they would eliminate, because they are pretty fundamental. There’s not a lot there to sacrifice, frankly,” she said.
If the bond vote passes, Moore said, someone who owns a $240,000 property with an income of $70,000 would see a tax increase of $189 per year.
Moore said a successful vote would mean the project would enter the design phase, with final designs being completed by the end of the year. From there the project would go out to bid, and Moore expects to start construction next spring.
If the vote fails, Moore said, the board would have to go back to the drawing board immediately.
“There is so much in this project that is absolutely essential,” Moore said. “There were members of the facilities committee who felt that we needed to do pieces of this project this summer, but we are trying to do it in an efficient and comprehensive manner.”
Moore said she was hoping to avoid a repeat of the past.
“Rumney has had a lot of Band-Aid fixes over the last 40 years. We want to make sure this fix isn’t just another Band-Aid — that it is a comprehensive solution for the building’s needs that will mean that we don’t go back to the Middlesex taxpayers for the next 20 years,” she said.
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