WLC talks about  consolidation, too

As Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School District administrators and taxpayers sort through the options for providing adequate facilities for their elementary school students in the months leading up to the district meeting in March 2014, those in the ConVal School District should take note.

While costly repairs to Florence Rideout Elementary School in Wilton, and not declining enrollment as in ConVal, is the impetus for a look at elementary consolidation in the WLC district, just how the issue is approached politically could be instructive for voters in the nine ConVal towns.

The WLC Facilities Committee organized tours this week of both Florence Rideout and Lyndeborough Central School for the public, and the district has five options for addressing facilities needs for voter consideration. All of the options will cost something and they range in price from $2.7 million to $13,510,316 or more.

In one scenario, Wilton and Lyndeborough elementary school students continue going to their respective schools, and the school district addresses facilities issues at Florence Rideout in order of priority. That’s expected to cost $2.7 million. A second option calls for demolishing parts of the 1950s section of Florence Rideout, where most of the problems seem to be, and building a 24,000-square-foot three-story addition for WLC’s grades one through five at an estimated cost of $8.7 million. The Lyndeborough school would be used for kindergarten and preschool classes, as well as SAU offices.

Another option calls for an even larger addition at Florence Rideout, with a 3,000-square-foot addition to Lyndeborough Central School to include a multipurpose room to serve as a half-court gym. In this case, one of WLC’s entire grades, possibly the fifth grade, would take classes in Lyndeborough. Yet another option, is to make additions to both schools and have Wilton and Lyndeborough students continue at the schools in their respective towns. And finally, the Facilities Committee has suggested that a single elementary school for students of both towns could be built for rough estimate of $13.5 million. The next few months will help determine the best option, and that one plan will be brought before voters in March.

After just one year, the Facilities Committee has made short work of outlining the alternatives available. And it seems this was done in a spirit of cooperation. Going forward, that approach could mean the difference between hitting a stalemate and creating a long-term, viable vision for educating the towns’ children.

Granted there are voters in just two towns to satisfy in the WLC district, but it seems some pathways forward have been illuminated. There’s more work to be done to get ConVal to this point, and there’s likely lots more debate for those in the WLC district.

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