ConVal’s Strategic Organization Committee to hire project manager, no plans to close schools

By JOSH LACAILLADE

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 05-22-2023 11:31 AM

ConVal’s Strategic Organization Committee (SOC) is looking to hire a project manager for the district amid declining enrollment and a petition to reconfigure, but committee members said they do not plan to lay off any of the district’s staff or close any schools.

“There is no plan in place to eliminate anything,” said Chairman Alan Edelkind.

On Friday, May 19, committee members met at the SAU 1 District Office to discuss their plans to hire a project manager to look into reconfiguring the district. Committee members said the project manager’s duties will include conducting studies on the district’s current 11 facilities -- eight elementary schools, two middle schools and ConVal Regional High School – and recommending reconfiguring strategies to the committee. Currently, the committee is looking into two potential vendors for the position, and the interviews are planned for Tuesday, May 23. and Wednesday, May 24. The board did not disclose the names of the two candidates.

Additionally, the committee is looking into appointing one member of the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee, made up of representatives from each of the district’s nine towns, to help facilitate the long-term project.

During the meeting, Edelkind said the study is still in the preliminary stages.

“This is a study, this is not what I call an implementation,” he said.

According to a press release from the district, the SOC’s  purpose is to look into the district’s current facilities and assess the best possible options to create a “educationally rich, safe, socially responsive, community sensitive, financially responsible and organizationally sound physical model while providing for enhanced diversity and cultural understanding in support of our ConVal community and students.” 

The press release also stated the district has been experiencing a decline in enrollment in recent years. Enrollment is currently estimated to be 1,999 this year compared to the district’s 3,530 capacity. The district stated, “Our school capacity far exceeds our current enrollment and enrollment is not expected to significantly increase in the foreseeable future. The latest demographic projections suggest a very small growth in enrollments over the next decade.”

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Edelkind said the committee plans to hold community forums in the near future to encourage public opinion during the preliminary stages of the study.

“Everybody will be involved before we make a decision. We want to make sure everybody is represented correctly,” he said.

According to the district announcement, once the SOC chooses a project manager, work should take approximately six months, and that any proposed change to the number of elementary schools would require a two-thirds public vote to amend the district’s Articles of Agreement.

During the meeting, committee members also expressed interest in updating the district’s facilities to better protect against school shootings. The district’s facilities are currently undergoing a safety audit from the New Hampshire Department of Homeland Security. So far, committee members say the facilities are passing with flying colors, but they are open to taking recommendations from Homeland Security once the safety audit is complete.

“[School shootings] can happen anywhere,” said committee member Richard Dunning. “One of the reasons we take it seriously is because it can happen here. It’s about what’s the best thing we can do for kids.”

Enrollments

The following are the district’s latest enrollment numbers for the 2022-2023 school year:

Antrim Elementary School -- 130 students

Pierce Elementary School – 68 students.

Dublin Consolidated  School – 61 students

Francestown Elementary School – 45 students

Greenfield Elementary School --93 students

Hancock Elementary School – 70 students

Peterborough Elementary School – 262 students

Temple Elementary School – 33 students

Great Brook School in Antrim – 227 students

South Meadow School in Peterborough – 344 students

 ConVal High School -- 666 students.

Total enrollment – 1,999 students.

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