WLC official touts consolidation plan

Superintendent says town would benefit

LYNDEBOROUGH — A plan to move Lyndeborough elementary school students to a renovated Florence Rideout Elementary School in Wilton should give students more options, School Superintendent Christine Tyrie told Select Board members on Wednesday.

“With the reconfiguration, Lyndeborough students will get a gym, an adequate library and cafeteria,” Tyrie said as she gave an overview of the consolidation proposal. “We would have better support spaces. Teachers will be able to collaborate. We can take the savings of consolidation and improve the learning environment.”

On March 7, voters will be asked to approve a 30-year bond of $8.25 million to finance an addition and renovation to Florence Rideout and renovations to Lyndeborough Consolidated School. The Lyndeborough building would be used for kindergarten and preschool students and would also become the new home of the SAU office, which would save about $30,000 annually in rent.

Tim O’Connell, who serves as principal of the two elementary schools, said Florence Rideout currently has 214 students, from prekindergarten to fifth grade. Lyndeborough Consolidated School has 71 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The consolidation is expected to result in annual cost savings of about $315,000 through a reduction in teaching staff. Some elementary school classes in Lyndeborough have had as few as six students, according to School Board member Jim Button.

“If we get too small, I think it’s a problem,” Button said. “Class sizes of 14 to 19 are wonderful.”

Tyrie said the district had 800 students in 2003 but was down to 600 in 2013. Projections show the number of students could drop to 500 by 2013. She said the combined elementary school would have about 250 students and would have a maximum capacity of 350 students. The preschool program and kindergarten in Lyndeborough are expected to have about 47 students.

Lyndeborough Select Board member Fred Douglas said he was concerned about traffic volume on Route 31, which runs in front of Lyndeborough Central School.

Button said he didn’t think it would be an issue, because there would be less of a rush of traffic with fewer students attending the school and the SAU office would not generate much traffic during the school day.

Douglas said his chief concern was the safety of kindergarten students and preschoolers, since the sight lines along Route 31, are not good.

School Board Chair Geoff Brock said district officials would want to work with Lyndeborough police to ensure steady enforcement of speed limits.

The School District will hold public hearings on the proposed budget and warrant articles, including the consolidation proposal, on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at the high school in Wilton.

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