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Lyme School Bond Passes

Voters Handily Approve Renovation Project

  • Kate Semple Barta reads an email she submitted to the listserve explaining how the proposed renovations to the Lyme School are not a luxury, but rather a necessity during the Lyme School Meeting at the Lyme School in Lyme, N.H., on March 6, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Kate Semple Barta reads an email she submitted to the listserve explaining how the proposed renovations to the Lyme School are not a luxury, but rather a necessity during the Lyme School Meeting at the Lyme School in Lyme, N.H., on March 6, 2014.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lyme School Board Chair Mark Schiffman explains the proposed school renovation during the Lyme School Meeting at the Lyme School in Lyme, N.H., on March 6, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Lyme School Board Chair Mark Schiffman explains the proposed school renovation during the Lyme School Meeting at the Lyme School in Lyme, N.H., on March 6, 2014.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • Addressing a packed gymnasium, Lyme School Board Chairman Mark Schiffman explains the affect of the proposed school renovations on both students and taxpayers during the Lyme School Meeting at the Lyme Elementary School in Lyme, N.H., on March 6, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Addressing a packed gymnasium, Lyme School Board Chairman Mark Schiffman explains the affect of the proposed school renovations on both students and taxpayers during the Lyme School Meeting at the Lyme Elementary School in Lyme, N.H., on March 6, 2014.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kate Semple Barta reads an email she submitted to the listserve explaining how the proposed renovations to the Lyme School are not a luxury, but rather a necessity during the Lyme School Meeting at the Lyme School in Lyme, N.H., on March 6, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • Lyme School Board Chair Mark Schiffman explains the proposed school renovation during the Lyme School Meeting at the Lyme School in Lyme, N.H., on March 6, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • Addressing a packed gymnasium, Lyme School Board Chairman Mark Schiffman explains the affect of the proposed school renovations on both students and taxpayers during the Lyme School Meeting at the Lyme Elementary School in Lyme, N.H., on March 6, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

Lyme — After going down to defeat last year, the town’s elementary school looks to be set for renovation and expansion.

Voters overwhelmingly approved — by a 336-106 vote — an amended $2.85 million bond proposal Thursday night to renovate the elementary school.

The 76 percent majority easily surpassed the two-thirds, or 66 percent, required for passage.

Last year, a $3.65 million proposal lost by 29 votes and that defeat was followed by a concerted effort on the part of the School Board, building committee and others to return this year with a slightly smaller proposal.

Though the crowd was large, with a number of people standing along the back wall, it appeared most had come ready to vote in favor of the bond, with only a handful of residents commenting on the proposal after a presentation by the School Board and Ingrid Nichols of Lebanon-based Banwell Architects.

“I commend the School Board and committee who worked on this,” said resident Kathy Larson. “I hope you will join me in voting for this because I think they have done their work.”

The total cost of the school renovation project is estimated at $3.3 million but $280,000 will come from a capital reserve fund and other sources. School Board Chairman Mark Schiffman told the audience that people have already stepped up with donations and the school is in line to receive a $45,000 rebate on the new heating system.

He amended the proposed maximum borrowing of $3 million down to the approved figure of $2.85 million. “We expect it may be less than that.”

When the results were announced, most applauded.

“I think people probably saw it as a better fit for their needs and better understood it,” Schiffman said after the vote. “They also had enough time to consider it.”

The $3.3 million renovation will add classrooms, improve energy efficiency and make the K-8 school more accessible. School officials say the project is needed to educate some 200 children; the school currently uses auxiliary trailers.

The School Board cut $500,000 from a similar request last year after the defeat.

“This is not a luxury proposal. This is a basic needs proposal,” said Lyme School teacher and parent Kate Semple Barta, who spoke of students working on the floor in the hallways because of a lack of space. “We are at our maximum here.”

Not everyone, however, though spoke in support of the plan.

“I just have a lot of concerns,” said Katrin Tchana. “Are we still getting a Cadillac with the heated seats removed and not the Chevrolet we need.”

A subsequent article on the warrant asking voters to add $80,000 to the district’s capital-reserve fund for maintenance of school buildings was tabled because the bond passed.

School Budget Passed

Also approved by voice vote without discussion was a $5.6 million school budget and articles 5 and 6, which will take $50,000 each from any undesignated fund balance at the end of the fiscal year June 30 and transfer it to the Special Education Reserve Fund and High School Tuition Reserve Fund.

The renovation includes a two-story addition containing five rooms, with space for arts classes and information technology.

The kitchen will be expanded, a bathroom for those with disabilities added and the roof over the wing that houses the lower grades replaced.

School officials estimated the renovation bond and the operating budget will increase the school portion of Lyme’s property tax rate 5 cents, to $13.51 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

That would add about $12.50 to the tax bill of owners of a home valued at $250,000. To offset costs to taxpayers, school supporters have raised some $200,000 in private donations.

Schiffman said during the meeting officials expect to begin construction in the spring and complete the project before school opens in August.

Town Meeting will be held at the Lyme Community Gymnasium on Tuesday at 9 a.m., with voting by ballot on offices between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.