Board Passes Stevens High Upgrade Bond

Claremont — With the adoption last night of a $12.6 million bond article to pay for renovations at Stevens High School, the School Board has finalized the annual school district warrant.

Voters can amend the warrant or approve it as recommended at the Feb. 6 deliberative session before sending it to the school district vote on March 12.

If the proposed $32.15 million budget, the $12.6 million bond and other articles requesting appropriations are approved as recommended by the School Board, the school tax rate would increase $1.06 per $1,000 of assessed value and add $159 in annual taxes to a property assessed at $150,000.

The warrant includes three separate articles for one-year contracts with transportation and maintenance employees, paraprofessionals and secretaries, a $112,850 appropriation for instructional technology and $191,178 for the lease/purchase of two school buses with five annual payments of $39,918.

Article 11, which is on the warrant by petition, would require the administration to present a budget with no increase in the amount to be raised by taxes. The article requires 60 percent approval in order to pass.

Last night, the board worried that if the bond article passes, and the energy upgrade article fails, then there would be no money to replace the boilers at Stevens.

That article calls for a lease/purchase of $7 million in energy equipment upgrades, but has no tax rate impact the board said because the company doing the work guarantees that the annual lease payments of $270,000 will be offset by savings in energy costs. Since replacing the boilers at Stevens must be done, one recommendation was to change the bond article wording to include a higher amount to pay for the boiler replacement if the energy upgrades article fails. But SAU 6 Business Manager Tim Ball warned against confusing the voters.

“If it gets too complicated, the reaction (in the voting booth) will probably be no,” Ball said.

The board did agree to rewrite the article for the lease/purchase of energy equipment upgrades to specify that Stevens will get new boilers only, while the other schools will have new windows and insulation in addition to new boilers. The bond would pay for all new windows and insulation at Stevens.

“We need to be clear on this and not give the impression we are including it (the Stevens boiler) in both articles,” board member Dave Putnam said.

The board agreed that in the unlikely event voters approve the bond, which has a 30 cent tax rate impact the first year and $1.09 the second, but reject the energy equipment upgrade article with no tax impact, they will have to find money in the bond to replace the boilers at Stevens.

The budget represents a 2.65 percent increase from this year and would require an additional $230,000 to be raised in taxes. The budget adds 51 cents to the tax rate. The default budget of $32 million would add 39 cents to the tax rate.

The deliberative session is scheduled for 6:30 on Feb. 6 in the Sugar River Valley Technical Center.

The filing period for anyone wishing to run for School Board began yesterday. There are two, three-year terms up for election in March and incumbent Charlene Lovett said after last night’s meeting she would not run again. Seaman, the other incumbent, said he will decide within the next two days. Candidates can file at the SAU office on Broad Street during regular business hours. The filing period end Friday, Feb. 1.