Cornish voters approve school budget

By PATRICK ADRIAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 03-12-2023 6:28 PM

CORNISH — Town voters approved a $5 million operating budget for next school year and green-lighted funding to study needed roof repairs at Cornish Elementary School, where falling of ice and snow from roof overhangs raises safety concerns, at the annual Cornish school meeting on Saturday.

About 100 Cornish residents gathered in the elementary school gymnasium to discuss and approve school spending for the upcoming school year. Cornish is one of few remaining towns on the New Hampshire side of the Upper Valley to hold a traditional floor meeting to vote on town and school warrants.

Voters, by a unanimous voice vote, passed a $5 million budget for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year, with an estimated $3.5 million to be raised in taxes. The approved budget sets the school tax rate at $17.77 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or the equivalent of $5,331 in taxes or a $300,000 home.

The budget is a 7% increase from the current year, which School Board members said was largely due to additional salary obligations from the teachers contract approved by voters last year.

Voters also approved an article seeking $25,000 to fund an engineering study of the roofing structure at the elementary school.

The school facility, composed of three connected sections, has sheet metal roofing that is susceptible to ice dams, where the melting and refreezing of snow results in an ice buildup on the edge that prevents water and snow melt from running off the roof.

When temperatures warm, accumulated ice and snow can fall, including in front of school entrances, school officials said.

The use of equipment to remove the ice dams occasionally perforates the sheet metal as well, which must be patched regularly to stop leaks into the building, School Board Chairman Justin Ranney told the Valley News.

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The roof sections also vary in age, and many sections are “well past their life span,” according to board member Jason Tetu.

“This is not something that a general contractor is going to be comfortable assessing,” Tetu told the public. “We really need an actual engineering study so we can make good sound decisions going forward about what to do.”

The school district also needs to replace its well system, as the school’s water exceeds the state threshold for PFAS, a toxic chemical contaminant.

Last month the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services authorized a $200,000 grant to the Cornish School District to fund a well replacement. The school district is currently working on its final application for funding approval.

Elections for school officers were conducted by ballot. The polls were open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the gymnasium. In all, 125 Ballots were cast:

■Melissa Drye was re-elected to the School Board.

■Alexys Wilbur re-elected to the School Board.

■Daniel Poor re-elected Moderator with 120 votes

■Shelly Foston elected school District Clerk

■ Carleah “Kaya” Meenagh re-elected treasurer .

Town Meeting ballot voting on officers and zoning changes will be on Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., in the Cornish Elementary School gym. The town deliberative session will be at the school gym on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Patrick Adrian may be reached at padrian@vnews.com or at 603-727-3216.

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