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Pelham~Windham News

Pelham~Windham News Volume 9 Number 9 September 9, 2011 16 Pages Proposal for

Middle School Renovations Downsized

by Barbara O’Brien At the request of Windham School Board members, the proposal for future renovations to Windham Middle School has been downsized. The reason? The still sluggish economy and concerns over the impact on local taxpayers. The original proposal was put forth by members of the

School District Long-Range Planning Committee, which came forth with their recommendations several months ago. The proposed plan formulated by committee members was intended to take care of Windham’s educational facility needs for the next 20 years. Interim Superintendent Dr. Henry LaBranche said the revisions undertaken by school administrators in the past few weeks were done in an attempt to make an addition to the existing middle school more affordable to residents.

According to the more recent plans, if approved and once completed, Windham Middle School would house students in grades five through eight; with grades five and six being in the older portion of the building and grades seven and eight in the new addition. There would be two “campuses,” LaBranche said. Dr. LaBranche said he and other members of the administration, as well as Lance Whitehead, the architect handling the development of the proposal, had reviewed all educational specifications “room by room by room” as they worked to cut costs. As opposed to the Long-Range Facilities Planning Committee’s proposal, which placed the middle school addition at a cost of between $22 and $26 million, the newer version presented by LaBranche totals $16.2 million. This includes about $10.62 million for construction costs, as well as $1.8 million for site work. The $16.2 million projection also includes all soft costs needed to furnish and equip the addition. After making the reductions they thought could be made without harming the integrity of the entire Master Plan, LaBranche explained that the new proposal for Windham Middle School would allow for a total of 235 students per grade level, which would translate into 23 1/2 students per classroom. There would be 45 general education spaces, he explained, as well as five half-sized Special Education spaces. There would also be spaces for Technology Education, as well as Family Consumer Science, both of which are currently missing from the middle school curriculum and which are required by the State Department of Education to meet existing State Standards for a middle school. One significant change noted is that the proposed full-size gymnasium would be reduced to a smaller multi-purpose room, instead. The existing media center/ library would remain at its current location, according to the latest proposal. No other core facilities would be altered, according to LaBranche. “This would bring Windham Middle School up to State Standards, regarding academic issues, in particular, LaBranche noted. Looking forward, LaBranche said the revised renovations at the middle school would provide sufficient space for the next decade, but most likely not for the next 20 years. “It would be a short-term fix,” he explained. “To do less than this would be irresponsible,” LaBranche informed school board members. Windham Middle School Principal Dan Moulas said he feels that the revised plan is still a good one. “It solves a lot of capacity needs,” he said, although the 23/24-student enrollment per classroom would be at the higher end of what he would prefer. One of the concerns expressed by Moulas is what will happen if Windham grows at a rate higher than predicted. “That’s something that’s tough to forecast,” he added. School Board member Stephanie Wimmer said she is also concerned about the proposed class-size being so high and wondered if there was “some wiggle room” in the new proposal by which the cost could be around $20 million rather than $16.2 million. Wimmer said she feels there would be a lot of support in the community to retain a new full-sized gymnasium, rather than a smaller multi-purpose room. School Board member Michelle Farrell said she felt that anticipating only 235 students per grade level at the middle school might be “a little short-sighted.” School Board member Jeff Bostic said he feels voters are going to question building a facility that would still wind up with approximately 24 students per classroom. “Is this really what we want to do to optimally develop a middle school concept?” Bostic asked. Dr. LaBranche said if the total cost of the proposed project was bumped up $4 million to a total of $20 million many of the school board’s concerns would be addressed. School Board Chairman Ed Gallagher said he felt that the revised proposal was “a good start.” “I like that the price is down,” Gallagher said, but added that he is concerned about the new concept not being long- term. Gallagher also asked school administrators to take another look at proposed renovations to Golden Brook School to see if any additional cost-cutting measures could be employed. He also asked that more information be obtained on the cost of setting up and leasing/purchasing additional portable classrooms in order to deal with the current space crunch. When questioned as to when a proposed plan for

renovations to Windham Middle School might be put forth to voters, LaBranche replied, “This doesn’t mean we’re planning on going forward next March,” just because plans are being discussed at this juncture. LaBranche pointed out that school officials would need to determine how any such project would fit in with Windham’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP).

Back-to-School Picnic

by Robyn Hatch The Windham PTA, in conjunction with the Windham Recreation Department, hosted a Back to School Picnic, complete with food, ice cream, face- painting, a DJ and sports. The event happened on the last day of freedom before school officially started for all the students. Many kids showed up, from small children to tweens. The fact that the hurricane was the day before and many people were still with no electricity might have been part of the problem. What a great day that hopefully will end up being a yearly event! Good job all who participated.

Abby Cavers gives the hoop a whirl Katie Boermeester layers her hoops

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Charlotte, Sophie, and Emily Ray,

Twins Mariela and Llyanna

Jean-Pierre Bonefant and David Morasse (red)

Pelham’s Pack 610 Completes Summer Service Project Ahead of Schedule

Eric Sprague laying out new cement bench by Lucy Wilkerson

Under the leadership of their new Cubmaster, David Wilkerson, Pelham’s Pack 610 completed their first-ever service project. The Pack’s service project was aimed to benefit Veteran’s Memorial Park, home of Pelham’s Town Beach. Initially, the Pack leadership proposed the service project to be done in three phases. Phases One and Two were hoped to be complete by September, 2011 while Phase Three was projected to be complete in time for the official opening of the Town Beach in the spring of 2012. Phase One of the project, which involved replacing picnic tables at the beach; adding umbrellas and umbrella stands; planting flowers; mulching; and light painting was completed in June 2011. Then, on August 21st, the boys not only completed Phase Two, but Phase Three as well. Phase Two brought the Cub Scouts together with Ginny and Walter Remis from the Pelham Garden Club. The boys worked under their guidance and direction, along with the Pack’s Project Manager, Jennifer Sprague. As the pack attempted to complete Phase Two on this day, they faced several challenges. The dog days of August had definitely settled in, and the lure of the beach was ever present on the minds of these 7-10 year old scouts and their siblings. Despite this temptation, the boys learned the proper way to plant, water, mulch and weed the new landscape plants for the Memorial itself. The Veteran’s Memorial, housed at the

entrance to the Park, honors all Pelham residents who have served and sacrificed for our country and their families. The Pack received an extraordinarily generous donation from Michelle Shattuck of Countrybrook Farms in Hudson. Countrybrook donated nearly $200 in shrubs

Donated sign awaits a hanging placard that will read, Pelham Residents Only

and low-maintenance perennials for the monument area - a huge boost for the Pack! This was the second time the boys received outstanding donations of plants for this service project, the first coming from Parlee Farms in Tyngsborough, MA. Amazingly, the inbound donations did not even stop there; Acres Edge in Pelham provided the added “edge” for the Pack by donating the loam and giving us mulch at cost. It is only because of this overwhelming support from these four community-minded businesses/ organizations that Pack 610 was able to complete Phase 2 well ahead of schedule. This generosity provided the new landscape for the park, and it also helped with budgeting concerns since it freed up money from a Bike-A- Thon fundraiser to purchase the two new cement benches now housed in front of the

Cubmaster David Wilkerson and Cub Scout Kenny Pawlowicz Raise the new flag

Monument. Phase Three proved to be the most daunting for the Pack. With an ambitious plan to raise the necessary funds, the pack hoped that by the spring of 2012 the Pack could have enough money to purchase a new sign to be placed at the roadside entrance heading up to Town Beach. Pelham’s town beach requires residents

to have permits for its use. With several heavily utilized sports parks and a plethora of recreational programs offered, the budgetary scope of the Pelham Parks and Rec does not allow them to fund a position for monitoring permits at the beach. Because of this, Pelham’s Town Beach is heavily utilized by non-Pelham residents, especially on the weekends. The Pack envisioned a sign that would clearly mark the beach as Pelham ,NH, property and for use solely by Pelham residents. To the Pack’s sheer amazement and delight, Steve DeRuosi owner of SRD Builders in Pelham volunteered to donate the material and his talents to create the sign that was envisioned, and on August 20, he delivered it to Jennifer and Erick Sprague, who then dug the fittings, poured the cement and erected the sign that now stands at the Park. When the last of the mulch was spread, Cub scout members of Pack 610 laid a new wreath at the Monument and replaced the weathered flag. To learn more about cub scouting visit

Walter Remin of Pelham Garden’s Club instructs Pelham Cub Scout Cole Gervais of Pack 610 on planting how too’s

our Website at To join, come and visit us at our Join Up Night on Wednesday, September , from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the cafeteria at Pelham Elementary School (PES), or visit our tables at the PES Open Houses later on in September. To learn more about Pack 610, visit us at

courtesy photos

staff photos by Robyn Hatch

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