Group Aims to Educate Voters About Need for New Middle School and Athletic Field
The non-profit group was recently organized and is chaired by three residents.
Concerned with overcrowding in three of the town’s schools, a new organization has emerged to educate residents about the importance of voting yes on a warrant that supports a new middle school and athletic field for the high school.
The non-profit group called WINS – Windham Initiative for a New School – is chaired by Michelle Saklad, Kevin Lefebvre and Attessa Bradley.
Currently grade three is split between Golden Brook Elementary School and Windham Center School and the middle school is not up to state standards, Saklad said.
“Right now, there is no science lab or tech education at the middle school,” she said.
The new proposed middle school would house grades seven and eight and be located on London Bridge Road, on land already owned by the school district. Currently, the old middle school on Lowell Road has grades six, seven and eight.
If the new middle school is approved, the older one will house grades four, five and six. Golden Brook would house kindergarten through grade two and Center School would house grades three and four.
“This is fiscally responsible,” said Saklad, a parent of four children in the school district. “Otherwise, we just keep putting Band-Aids on existing structures that just aren’t working anymore.”
Because the three schools are over capacity by more than 700 students as of December 2012, programs have been cut or modified.
Students are learning music and art from mobile carts, with no dedicated rooms. World language and enrichment classes have been cut in the lower grades, and physical education times have been reduced in first grade because of increased class size.
These numbers refer to permanent structures and do not take the portable classrooms at Golden Brook School into account. The portables currently house close to 200 students.
The new athletic field at the high school would support six teams on Astroturf.
“Currently six teams are using a grass field and by overuse, the conditions are unfavorable and unsafe,” Saklad said. “If we have a better field, we can host championship games that bring money to the sports teams.”
The cost for the new middle school with its own athletic fields is $29.7 million, and the new multi-purpose athletic field with turf, seating and lighting is $1.9 million.
The tax increase will be based on the Town valuation and bond lengths, so I can't give you an exact number right now. The school district’s business administrator Adam Steel is working on those estimates for a bond hearing to be held Friday, Jan. 11.
“Our mission is to let people in town know what’s going on so that we can get the 60 percent vote we need at Town Meeting,” Saklad said.