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Ray School Project Leads Discussion in Hanover

Hanover — The proposed $5.8 million Ray School renovation project dominated the discussion at Saturday’s Hanover School District meeting at Richmond Middle School and was the only one of eight articles to meet with any objection.

Hanover resident Doug McIlroy said he was surprised by the amount of money that would be devoted to upgrades and to changes of the parking lot and roads around the school. “It’s disappointing to see that one-fifth of this bond issue is for asphalt,” he said.

Hanover Finance Committee Chairwoman Heidi Postupack said she was worried about the cost of the project in future years. “We need this, but can we scale it down so there isn’t a tremendous impact in fiscal year 16?” she asked.

The Finance Committee had earlier voted 5-1, with one abstention, against the project.

Those in favor of the project cited safety concerns and said they wanted to bring the 45-year-old elementary school up to code.

Hanover resident Jonathan Edwards said the school has been living on borrowed time for years. “I am not skeptical about this renovation. It will provide the minimum needed to address the problems and solve them long-term.” Edwards said short-term fixes would end up costing the district more in the long run.

Ray School Principal Matt Laramie said site modifications were among the most expensive parts of the project, and he spoke specifically about proposed changes to the traffic flow and parking lot that would create separate drop-off areas for school buses and cars.

“What we are increasing is safety,” Laramie said.

He said many school events, which are heavily attended by parents, occur during the day. The parking lot does not have enough space for buses to pull up and for parents to park to attend the events.

The renovation would include upgrades to meet requirements for accommodating disabled students, staff and visitors, along with improvements to the heating, ventilation and electrical systems. Three temporary classrooms would be removed and be replaced by three permanent classrooms. A fourth classroom would be added to allow for a proposed all-day kindergarten class.

The 20-year bond shouldn’t have an effect on taxes during the upcoming fiscal year, but starting in fiscal year 2016, school officials said, it would likely cost taxpayers about $68 on a $400,000 home.

Voting on the $12.2 million Hanover School District budget, which is up about $495,000, a 4.2 percent increase over the current year, on the Ray School project and for School Board members, moderator and clerk will take place on Tuesday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., in the Hanover High School gymnasium.