SWANZEY — Superintendent Lisa Witte and the Monadnock Regional School District are pleased to announce that the New Hampshire Department of Education has approved its consolidation/renovation plan, marking a significant milestone in the effort to modernize the district’s educational facilities.
The vote on Thursday, Nov. 10 means that the District is eligible for almost $19.4 million in state aid, 55 percent of the $35.2 million estimated project cost. The Board of Education lists the Monadnock project as the third most-needed school construction project in the state. The State Legislature is expected to vote on funding school projects in December. If the Legislature continues to fund these projects at $50 million statewide, Monadnock would be able to start work in July 2023 pending local approval of a bond issue.
The District project calls for:
- Additions and renovations at Emerson Elementary School, Gilsum STEAM Academy, Mount Caesar Elementary School, and Troy Elementary School.
- Closing of Cutler Elementary School, with the Cutler population moving to Mount Caesar. This places students from Richmond, Roxbury, and Swanzey in preschool to Grade 6 on one campus.
Both Troy and Cutler date to the turn of the 20th century. Emerson opened in 1925, and Gilsum opened in 1956. The District engaged in a facilities study in 2017, followed by a feasibility study. The district has projected more than $33 million in basic repairs are needed.
The District then engaged community stakeholders, who identified a cost-effective plan and retention of community schools as important considerations.
The School Board moved forward with the idea of renovating four schools simultaneously to reduce costs and limit the impact of financial bonding. This approach also allowed the District to apply for state aid.
“If we do one school at a time, some schools will have to wait 10, 15, or maybe 20 years for work to begin,” School Board Chair Scott Peters said. “Pursuing these projects simultaneously would enable us to significantly reduce the long-term cost impacts while providing much more immediate upgrades that will directly benefit our students.”
The consolidation/renovation project will bring the buildings into compliance with modern building codes and the Americans with Disabilities Act, update HVAC systems, add energy-efficient lighting, and update electrical and septic systems, as well as improve campus safety and security. Facility upgrades will improve physical education and fine arts spaces, and support modern classroom technologies to ensure equitable education across the district.
The bond issue requires a combined three-fifths approval by voters in the sending communities of Fitzwilliam, Gilsum, Richmond, Roxbury, Swanzey, and Troy. The bonding article will appear on the Annual District Meeting warrant. The article will be discussed at the Deliberative Session in each community on Feb. 4, and voted upon in the March 17 election.