Chester-Andover board OKs study for renovations, improvements

By Stephen Seitz
©2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Chester-Andover Elementary School board voted to spend $9,000 for a study to establish the cost of doing several improvement projects at the school, some of which have been on the drawing board but deferred for 10 years.

The projects include replacing the school’s windows, constructing a new main entrance with a canopy, reconfiguring and expanding the parking area, and improving outdoor lighting.

Kirk Moore, of the Manchester-based BMA Architects and Planners, addressed the board at its regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 13. “There was a high priority to determine how much this is going to cost,” he said. “It’s difficult to do that until you know exactly what you’re going to do.”

Board chair Marilyn Mahusky said that any spending or bond proposal would have to be approved by the new Green Mountain Unified School District, not the current board. Last year, the towns of  Andover, Baltimore, Cavendish and Chester voted to create a new school district, supplanting the current districts. The new district takes over on July 1, 2018.

The Chester-Andover board doesn’t “have any authority under the agreement to incur any indebtedness on this facility. In terms of putting up for a bond, we don’t have the authority to do that,” Mahusky said.

“Long-term funding you’re talking about?” asked board member Mike Studin. “Or can we authorize replacing a pump if we needed to?”

Board chair Marilyn Mahusky, right, said the proposal should go to the new Green Mountain Unified School Board. File photo

“We can authorize those expenditures,” Mahusky replied, “but in order to borrow money to do a capital improvement project, the new board has to do it. I’m not saying it can’t be done this year, but it has to go through that board. I want to be able to take it to that new board and say, ‘This is something we need to go ahead and do.’ ” Mahusky has been elected to serve on new Green Mountain Unified School District Board.

Moore said a concrete proposal would help. “The scope of services in this proposal, would break the project down into components. So I would give you a budget for just the windows, a budget for just the new entrance, and canopy, and then a budget for the site alterations. I think that would be a good way to present it to the bigger board. It’s one more tool you would have before making a decision.”

Two Rivers Supervisory Union finance director Christopher Adams explained how that would work. “Generally,” he said “how you work with a bond, you figure out the budget, go before the voters, but then you get a bond anticipation note, because you don’t settle up that bond issue until everything’s spent. Then you replace that temporary funding with permanent funding. So the permanent funding will not take place until the new board is fully operational.”

Mahusky wondered if the entire project should be done at once.

“Should we do all of it, or just the windows?” she asked “I think this board needs to be able to give a recommendation to the new board. We should have bonded last year, but we didn’t because we felt we couldn’t afford the debt load.”

Principal Katherine Fogg said, “I’m concerned that we’re putting safety on the back burner. When the plans were drawn 10 years ago, it included the parking lot, and that was about safety. It’s important to talk about how unsafe our parking lot is, how we need to not have cars and buses in the same lane, and get some curbing out there. I’m anxious that a lot of this stuff isn’t going to happen.”

The board voted unanimously to send the money.

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Filed Under: Education News

About the Author: Steve Seitz is an author, journalist and film critic based in Springfield,VT. He has reported local news in the Upper Connecticut River Valley for many years. Steve has been interviewed on NPR's "The Story" for his knowledge of cinematic music. He also has interviewed such cinematic luminaries as James Earl Jones, Jerry Lewis, James Whitmore, Matthew Lewis ("Neville Longbottom" from the Harry Potter films), and an original cast member from every "Star Trek" series, among many others. He is working on other novels.

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