Watery ‘Oil Spill’ at Nesmith Library
by Lynne Ober
Debbie, 7, drew a beautiful flower in a flower pot and then, with water drops, turned it into an abstract picture.
It may be winter school vacation, but kids everywhere are still learning. The multimedia room at Windham’s Nesmith Library was filled to capacity for a family science program hosted by New Hampshire Public Television’s educator Heather Mason.
The room was quiet as participants watched a video about pollution in the sea as told through the eyes of a seal and the ocean. Then Mason asked the children what they learned about pollution and why it was important to all of us to keep the earth clean.
Mason’s delivery was both calming and energetic as she talked about water and its importance to man and creatures. The kids watched her intently and waved their hands eagerly so they could answer a question. But it wasn’t all talk. Everyone got to dig in and learn about water and its properties.
The first experiment was to color on paper towels with markers and then to slowly drop water from droppers onto the drawings to watch what water did to the colors. The kids were amazed to learn that water dropped on red had a different reaction to water dropped on blue or green or black.
They learned about the challenges of managing an oil spill. Given two cups they were told to fill both with water and then to add oil to one of the cups. Mason encouraged them to talk about the differences when the oil was added. Next they added feathers and other materials to the cup with the oil. Again they talked about what they saw. Mason, who used to teach school and holds a master’s degree, was able to lead a lively discussion about how the materials changed when they were covered with oil.
Mason said she’s taught for a while and when the position opened at New Hampshire Public Television to teach educational programs to kids and adults, she jumped at it. “It’s been a lot of fun and I enjoy taking learning out into New Hampshire communities.”
The next step was to remove the oil-covered feathers and materials and try to remove the oil from them. Finally participants were tasked with removing the oil completely from the water. The kids chimed in with quick and funny answers about what was challenging with these problems.
Once the oil spill was cleaned up, it was time to move onto floods. Participants had to estimate how many drops of water an object would hold before a flood occurred. Although that bottle top looked very small, as the participants slowly dropped water, counting each drop, they were amazed at how much water it took to fill the bottle cap. Mason urged them to watch the water slowly and to be able to describe the shape of the water just before the flood and to talk about what water looked like just before a flood.
The last experiment provided each participant with something to take home and watch. Each child got a clear plastic cup. Half a paper towel that was soaked with water and then wrung out was placed in the bottom of the cup. Three kidney beans were placed on the paper towel and the cup was covered with plastic. Once the cup got home, three holes were to be punched in the top. Participants were told to put in a teaspoon of water if the towel got dry and to watch their kidney beans.
New Hampshire Public Television provided books for every youngster who participated.
Aidan, 6, and his brother, Blaise, 7, work on their water properties experiment.
Maya Entertains Windham Seniors
by Doug Robinson
Sponsored by the Windham Recreation Department, dynamic one-woman show Maya entertained several dozen seniors as she sang the songs of the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s and danced her choreographed routines.
The seniors sang along with Maya as they listened to various tunes of big band, ballads and Broadway. Songs from the play Cats, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole put smiles on every face. As a one-woman show, May uses multiple costume changes, props and audience participation to “add flavor, variety and excitement” to her shows.
During and after her performances, the seniors showed their appreciation with thunderous applause, laughing and cheers.
John Ricci and Shirley Pivovar enjoy a moment of dance while Maya sings Nat King Cole’s popular song, Unforgettable.
Eddie Ferreira has Maya singing up close and personal while his wife Shirley (left) looks on.
Meet the Pelham School Board Candidates
by Diane Chubb
This year, the Pelham School Board has two open seats – for a one-year and a three-year term. The election will be held on Tuesday, March 11 at Pelham High School.
Linda Mahoney is up for re-election and is opposed by former school board member Ray Perry for the three-year term. Lorraine Dube, Joe Farris and Linda Koehler seek the one-year term.
Each candidate was asked a series of questions. Below are their entire responses.
Q. Please provide some background information – how long have you been in Pelham, what do you do for work, what work have you done with the schools, do you have children in the school system, etc.
Joe Farris: I have lived in Pelham all my life, 37 years. I have a bachelor,s degree in engineering from UMass Lowell. I have three young children, two of which are in the school system, Jeremy and Isabella. I am owner/manager of two small businesses which keep me busy. My lovely wife, Heidi, is a stay-at- home mom and does about twice as much work as I do!
Lorraine Dube: I have lived in Pelham for about 50 years, and I have family members in the school system. I am retired and have approximately 11 years, experience as an instructor in the Pelham school district. I hold a master of education degree from Cambridge College. I recently initiated the process for stopping the school buses from idling on our school property, so that our children and staff would not breathe the toxic fumes emitted by the buses. In order to become informed, I have attended most school board meetings for about 3 1/2 years. I have walked through our schools with the Budget Committee, head of the school maintenance department, and fire chief to experience and understand the state of the buildings and obtain information regarding needed repairs, safety, and maintenance. I have volunteered at various school activities such as bake sales, staff volleyball for Easter Seals, PTA, volunteered to help first-graders learn to read, and tutored a former student at no charge to help him prepare for college.
Linda Mahoney: Married, 23-year resident, three children ages 13 and 17 (attending Pelham public schools) and 20-year-old (2005 PHS graduate). I work as a paraprofessional (special education assistant) at the Dr. Lewis Soule Elementary School in Salem, NH. Currently serving my third year on the School Board as vice chairman. As school board member, I served a year on the Budget Committee, CIP, serving my second year on the Elementary School Council, sat on the most recent Superintendent Search Committee, as well as, several other committees.
Ray Perry: My wife, Lori, and I moved to Pelham in 1988. We moved here from Salem because it was an affordable and commutable community to our jobs in Massachusetts. I currently work for an electronics company based in Nashua as a systems engineer and manager. I am also a part-time instructor for Johns Hopkins University where I completed my master of science degree in systems engineering. When we moved to Pelham, the schools were not a factor in our selection. We heard Pelham offered similar education with other schools in the area. Commuting to work required us to find private daycare and kindergarten that fit our work schedules. It wasn,t until our girls (Courtney a PHS junior and Shannen a PHS sophomore) were in kindergarten that we got involved in the community. Lori became a Girl Scout leader and I served on the Sherburne School Council and both of us on the PTA. We were appreciative of the education and spirit the Sherburne School staff and administrators gave to the children but we very concerned with the overcrowding at the school. In 2001, I was elected to the Pelham School Board. I had many assignments including chairman, vice chair, BUDCOM representative (two years), teacher contract, support staff contract, SAU chair, vice chair and Pelham School Board,s representative to the Cooperative High School Planning Board. I also lead the SAU superintendent search and participated in principal selections for the Memorial and High School. I left the board at the end of my term for work-related matters and had hoped to run for the co-operative school board if the co-op had been approved. During my time on the board, I believe I sought alternatives that were in the best interest of the community, students and school district employees. I showed leadership, teamwork and most of all an ability to look at all aspects of the school district, not just those that were of interest to me. When I brought my concerns to the board; I stood behind board decisions even when they conflicted with my point of view. I am seeking this office because we need PSB members who will unite around board approved decisions, plans and vision for the school district.
Linda Koehler: We moved into Pelham over 20 yrs ago. My husband, Fred, and I have been married for 25 years. We have three children. Evan, 21, is a junior at Temple University. He is currently studying at Temple,s Tokyo campus, majoring in film and Asian studies. Ryan, 19, is a freshman at Rennsellaer Polytechnical Institute in Troy, New York. He is majoring in mechanical engineering; he plays on the men,s varsity lacrosse team. Emily, 17, is a junior at Pelham High School; she plays varsity field hockey and lacrosse, is on the French Naional Honor Society, planning to go to college for a degree in
business. I am a licensed and registered occupational therapist, employed by Home Health VNA, Lawrence MA. I received my BS in OT with a minor in psychology at Boston University. Over the past 20 years, I have been involved with the Pelham School District. I coached field hockey for 14 yrs at PHS and Memorial. Have been on all three school councils, past president of the Pelham Memorial Booster Club and have been an active volunteer in the schools for the past 15 years. I was also on the NHIAA field hockey committee. Currently, one of the chairs for “Voices for Pelham Education” and on the PHS council.
Q. Are you in favor of the four-school model being supported by the School Board? Why or why not?
Ray Perry: The four-school model addresses overcrowding in all of our schools, not just the high school. I am supportive of the plan because it brings a long range plan and solution that is long overdue. Although details of how a kindergarten fits into the four-school model are not fully understood, the plan is very attractive. I commend the PSB for unanimously agreeing to this plan in July, 2005 and seeking architectural plans and land selection for the voters to decide on.
Linda Koehler: Yes, the proposed four-school model is the best plan that our school board has developed in the past 20 years. It will not only solve our current overcrowding issues at two schools but is projected to take care of our student needs for grades R - 12 for the next 30 years.
Joe Farris: I am not in favor of the four-school model at this point because I don,t feel as if I have enough information. I would like to see if there are better options. I do know that we need to look toward the future for expansion but I also do not want to drive people out of their homes because they can,t pay their taxes. I know it,s easy to say we ,need, a fourth school but I also know of at least one family that absolutely can,t afford the tax increase, and I,m sure there are more families out there in the same situation. However, if we find that a fourth school is needed, I will work to build it as efficiently as possible.
Lorraine Dube: I do not favor the four-school model because I do not believe the average taxpayer can afford it. A professional from the architect firm has been working on the total operating costs for the new high school on the school website. However, his figures are incomplete, as are the tax impact per thousand costs, and tax impact figures for an average home of $362,000. The architects stated that a high school addition and renovation was a possible option. However, (except for Mrs. Mahoney), the school board does not want to offer that less expensive option to the voters. When the board presented a high school addition/renovation option in a public meeting, they had added the cost of building a new middle school to the total cost. This action made the addition and renovation option appear to be more expensive than it actually was. A high school renovation and addition project should not include the added cost of building a middle school. We do not need a new middle school or a new high school. Instead, we can build beautiful new classroom additions, temporarily use green, formaldehyde-free modular classrooms when needed, and maintain our schools better than we have done in the past.
Linda Mahoney: Would I love a new high school? Absolutely. However, given the state of the economy, I cannot in good conscience support a plan that could put a large segment of our community in financial hardship. The 25-year bond payment added with the increased operational costs that will be incurred by adding a 190,000-square-foot high school while operating our other three existing schools (a budget that continues to grow annually) will create an overwhelming burden on our taxpayers. From 2001 through today, our operational budget has doubled to $24 million. With regards to the $3 million proposed land purchase, if voters are not going to be able to afford to build a new high school, that $3 million could be well spent toward renovating and expanding our existing high school to accommodate future growth. It is essential we balance the educational needs of our school district with the taxpayers, ability to fund them if we plan on making positive progress. It is not right to place an undue hardship on one segment of our community for the benefit of another.
Q. Space is a big issue facing the Pelham School District. There is overcrowding at the high school and middle schools, and the elementary school is near capacity. Large classes are getting ready to enter the elementary school. What do you see as the solution to these problems?
Linda Koehler: The problem is twofold. The space issue needs a long term solution (the four-school model) not a short term band-aid fix with additional modular classrooms, that is detrimental to our students, education and fiscally irresponsible to the taxpayers. Also, we need to address the need for additional teachers, keeping the teacher/student ratio at the state,s minimal standards.
Lorraine Dube: As I have previously mentioned, I support a high school renovation and addition for our high school. By the time this can be presented to the voters as a viable option, we will be close to the time the Pelham Elementary School bond will be paid. If we temporarily use green, formaldehyde-free modular classrooms at the high school for overcrowding, we could begin the new high school addition when the elementary school bond is paid. The addition would provide brand new classroom space for our students to enhance their learning environment and keep our taxes affordable. Regarding Memorial School, we have a large class moving into sixth grade next year. We will need “green” modular classrooms to eliminate overcrowding there until a future date when we can build an addition. Eight modular classrooms at Memorial School would provide space for 200 more students than the building currently holds. The modulars are an efficient and affordable way to provide valuable, air-conditioned, well-lighted classrooms for our children. They provide flexibility to accommodate variable populations. Many towns use them, including Windham and Salem. With the modulars in place at Memorial School, our elementary school would be able to serve grades one through four, as originally intended. The elementary school will accommodate 1,000 students, so even if we had some large classes entering the elementary school in future years, we would have adequate space for four grades. The aforementioned approach would provide our students with much needed classroom space, use the current land we already own, and keep our taxes affordable so that we can all enjoy living together in our wonderful town. I believe the majority of our taxpayers could afford this solution rather than to take on the expense of building new schools and buying new land that we do not need.
Ray Perry: I took some time to meet with the superintendent and each of the principals to receive firsthand insights on the overcrowding challenges at each school. They are already starting to deal with this situation. At the elementary school, enrollment is estimated to be at 980 students next year. That is 20 students from the designed capacity. There are some immediate changes that can take place. Student-to-teacher ratios could increase (more kids per class). Art, enrichment and music rooms could be taken as grade level rooms. This would put us back to the “Sherburne School” overcrowding solution by placing the art, music and enrichment program on carts and these teachers would rotate to the students. We could also sacrifice common areas and other work spaces to build smaller work areas.
Pelham Memorial School is already over capacity. The upcoming sixth grade is the largest class on record in Pelham. We will be approaching 100 students over capacity at that time. Currently, the school has shifted to the art and health class to carts and is utilizing the stage area for classroom activities. Other than place a few other classes on carts, use the cafe, or split the school into double sessions, we are running out of realistic options. Safety is going to be a big concern. This is all the more reason to support the four-school model. Pelham High School speaks for itself. It is time to move on. By the way, the modular classrooms are leaking! What is causing overcrowding? We have an attractive town that people want to move to. Projections from multiple sources indicate an increase in number of students in the upcoming years. We can argue which number is correct but the trend is up and we already have too many kids in the school district for the current buildings to handle. From a taxpayer perspective, I know the four-school model is a difficult decision to make. There are advantages to doing it now. The state has a high contribution rate that will save us 33 percent for building aid; construction costs are not rising as they were, and bond rates are low. The land is an excellent site to build on with low risk of additional site preparation cost. Remember, it isn,t just a high school problem it is a three school problem! The four-school model reuses our existing facilities while adding an excellent high school to our town that will support us for the next 30 years.
Linda Mahoney: The school board should be pursuing solutions that actually have a chance of being realized in this community. Otherwise, we are merely dreaming and dreaming won,t do our students any good. Our previous school board spent years dreaming of a cooperative high school with Windham while making our kids sit in an unsafe school. Now, we have the current school board that dreams of a brand-new $48 million school project while our kids must sit in overcrowded conditions. Dreaming has cost this town millions and it is time to wake up. I would support a renovation/addition similar to the renovation/addition plan presented to us by Marinace Architects which addressed our facility needs and move our six-classroom modular building (accommodating 150 students) to Memorial School. This would provide the necessary relief to Memorial and the necessary financial relief to our taxpayers by not overburdening them at one time. In studying our historical enrollment growth, together with future growth trends, the need for a new 1,200-student high school is questionable. Also, when the current fou-school model was adopted, kindergarten was not the issue it is today. With kindergarten now in the equation, the configuration of needed school district space changes and very well could change the idea that the new proposed high school is the best path forward.
Joe Farris: Well, if there is any possible way to competently educate our children in a three-school model using the existing land I think this would be the best route. The operating costs would be much less in the years to come. Along with saving on the land, we would also save on heat, electricity, water, maintenance (both indoor and outdoor), busing, personnel and so on. It,s clearly cheaper to operate three schools than four.
Q. Aside from space, what do you believe is the biggest issue facing the Pelham schools, and what do you propose as a solution.
Lorraine Dube: One of the biggest issues facing the Pelham schools is our lack of progress and our inability to always convey accurate information to the voters. Our school boards must more accurately provide viable choices and information to the voters for major undertakings such as I have mentioned regarding the additions, renovations, and “green” modular classrooms. When a school board only presents their personal choices over and over to the residents, and the residents reject the ideas again and again, we lose valuable education opportunities, time and money. Although they may be well-intentioned, these actions inhibit progress. The land on the ballot for a new high school is another example where our board needs to provide more accurate information to the public. Our board has stated that we would lose the land to developers if we do not buy it this year. There is an issue regarding eminent domain for that land, and we do not know if developers would be interested in buying it, since eminent domain cases could be held up in court for an undetermined amount of time. One method to solve the problem would entail sending accurate flyers and/or surveys to residents to inform them of all our viable options for very important projects, and to seek their opinions. Perhaps providing a way for residents to send their email addresses to a school board site would enable the board to send out mass emails to residents to inform them about various issues. Press releases in local newspapers would be another option, as well as continued press releases on the Pelham Message Board.
Linda Koehler: The curriculum issue always needs to be addressed. This unfortunately is directly tied into the space/teacher needs which drives the scheduling at the schools and availability for type/number of classes that we can offer our students.
Linda Mahoney: Our school district will be faced with implementing and funding our own pre-school/kindergarten services that we currently share with Windham for children identified as having an educational disability. Windham is seeking withdrawal from SAU 28, which, if passed will require Pelham to find a suitable location for our own SAU. The Legislature and Deparrtment of Education is pressuring the remaining towns to offer public kindergarten that, to many, is an unfunded mandate. We must continue to protect our rights as provided us under the constitutional amendment Article 28a and advocate on behalf of our community. Most importantly, each year the school board is faced with the challenge of garnering support from the community. It is extremely difficult to sustain positive momentum with the trust of the community when the school board makes unwise decisions, such as, moving forward with a special election for a failed contract. While I fully support teachers (I work with teachers every day and understand their challenges), it doesn,t serve the school district well to disenfranchise the voters who we need support from. The time has come for our school board to get realistic in our community,s ability to fund projects, until then, we will continually waste time, money and effort promoting what we all would love to have, but cannot afford. Once that is realized, our challenges will be more easily realized.
Ray Perry: I think we have lost sight of what the mission of our school district is and its impact on the town. We must provide a balanced education for the children. This education prepares them for whatever life has in store for them. We want our schools to be safe and promote community spirit. At the same time, we want to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayer. We have become a divided town and we must bring the town together, work on setting a clear vision for our education system. As a school board member, I need your support in creating this vision so I can lead and make decisions to bring you budgets, plans and student achievement that demonstrates we are meeting our school district goals.
Joe Farris: I think it,s important our teachers have every opportunity to focus on their job, teaching academics.
Q. The line of communication between the town and the residents is always being questioned. How do you propose to improve communication between the town officials/school board and the residents?
Linda Koehler: I feel it is very important that any board in our town provide concise and accurate information to the public. Unified and con-conflicting information needs to be provided; school board members should not be giving out conflicting information/personal agendas once the board has voted on issue. This only “muddies the waters;” misinformation is counterproductive and costly to the taxpayers.
Linda Mahoney: Communication has always been an important focus for me. After strong resistance from the school board, I was able to convince them to allow a public forum at the start of our meetings. Improving communication to the public and among town officials is easy and we have the ability to communicate at our fingertips. The problem is we need to improve the desire to communicate. Much to my disappointment, the special election for the teacher,s contract was very poorly advertised. Simple signage would have gone a long way in informing the voters of this very important vote. Again, it is the desire to communicate that appears to be the bigger problem than the ability to communicate.
Joe Farris: It is important to get feedback from the residents. Heck, they are the ones who vote us in! How can we represent them unless we hear from them? I don,t think we should judge the feelings of the town solely on the “Thumbs up/Thumbs down” section of the paper. The town Website would be a great line of communication and of course, annual meetings.
Ray Perry: Communication has always been a challenge in the community. As I indicated in the last question, a clear vision is needed. This will help the community understand why the PSB is asking for their support on various efforts. It is also important that the students and staff share in the responsibility of communicating to the public. Positive efforts on their behalf need to be showcased. We have many things to be proud of and I appreciate everyone who makes the effort to share these events with the public. I will respond to questions posted on the message board or through private e-mails. Any correspondence will be done factually and respectfully.
Lorraine Dube: Our town officials and school board can communicate with residents via press releases in local newspapers, as well as continue to provide press releases on the Pelham Message Board and perhaps create an official town site in case the current message board ceased to exist. They could also announce in press releases that if residents wanted to be apprised of various issues, the residents could provide their e-mail addresses to the town and/or school boards, so that the town and school could send mass e-mails. I also would investigate the cost of nonprofit bulk mail status costs for mailings for very important events. Perhaps if the town boards and school district shared the cost, it would be more affordable. Signs at major intersections and the town plaza would be helpful in keeping residents informed about important events. We could investigate grants that may exist to purchase a lighted message sign like the one the police department uses. The town and school boards will have to get together to discuss the most efficient and cost effective methods.
Q. It is likely that the Windham School District will vote to study the dissolution of the SAU. What is your opinion of this proposed split and how do you think it will affect Pelham?
Linda Mahoney: Sharing our SAU services with Windham is no longer providing either town with the benefits it once did. Both towns have grown to the point where our individual needs require more attention than one superintendent can humanly provide. It is in Pelham,s best interest to support this split to ensure our educational community will continue to receive the attention it requires and deserves. Our share of the SAU budget continues to increase. Pelham voters do not have any control over our share, which is currently set at $601,199 for 08/09. Will it cost Pelham more than that to operate our own SAU? The findings from a study committee that could be formed, if approved in March by Windham, will determine the impact the dissolution will have on the individual towns.
Ray Perry: Sadly, I believe Windham will dissolve their involvement with SAU 28. It is going to have negative implications on our town. First we will need to find an office space for the SAU. Second we will have to pay for full-time heads for human resources, special education and administrative support. These positions are currently cost-shared with Windham. Third, we will not have the opportunity to benefit from pilot programs offered in a school before they are adopted by our district.
SAU costs are currently controlled by the joint SAU board. During my time on the PSB, SAU 28 was one of the most cost-efficient SAUs in New Hampshire. In my meeting with the superintendent, we discussed this situation and discussed the positive side of having our own SAU. This SAU will be focused on Pelham,s priorities and would devote their time and energy finding ways to meet our objectives.
Joe Farris: Like it or not, Pelham is a big town now! If we run this school system on our own, our decisions will be solely for the good of the Pelham students.
Lorraine Dube: We have enjoyed a number of years sharing our SAU with our good neighbors in Windham. However, since Windham has expressed a desire to separate, it is time for us to each have our own SAU. While it will cost each town more to have a separate SAU, Pelham does not appear to have much choice if Windham chooses to break away. Since Windham has chosen to split first, they bear certain legal responsibilities relevant to the dissolution of the SAU and the effects of it on Pelham. We each have our own business manager and currently share a superintendent, assistant superintendent, a human resources professional, and we employ others there. With a smaller number of children in our own SAU, we may find that we won,t need the same staffing level, and that may reduce the cost of some responsibilities. We must find a suitable location for new SAU offices now. It appears that we may have at least a couple of choices regarding where to locate our own SAU offices. We have classroom space available at the former Sherburne School which might offer a possible location if our town government was open to that idea. Years ago, the SAU offices were in a house located where the Citizens Bank is currently situated, and at another time, they were in a ranch-style house on Route 38 (Bridge Street). It seems there are private homes available for purchase if the district wants the SAU to be located in a former private home, as it was in previous years. Of course there may be other ideas and I would be interested in hearing about them.
Linda Koehler: At this point in time, I do not feel that I have enough information on this issue to confidently answer this question. We need to see what the voters of Windham decide to do first.
Q. It would seem that there are many opportunities for the school to work with the town on issues like recycling, creating a “green” environment, and cross-educational opportunities with the library. What kinds of programs would you like to see the school district develop in connection with the town?
Joe Farris: As a small business owner, I know how important it is to run an operation efficiently an utilize all of your resources. As a school board member, I would use my experience to think “out of the box.”
Lorraine Dube: I believe recycling and creating a green environment are worthwhile endeavors for all of us. I located an on-line company that pays cash for some (not all) used or new books and they pay the shipping. There are book recycling options online that provide opportunities to support charities, also. Our schools could work with the library to participate in these worthy causes to make money for our schools and library, to help others in various charities, and to eliminate unwanted paper and books. Our high school students could participate as part of their community service projects, and all of our students can experience the wonderful reward of knowing they are helping others. I have read about high-tech garbage recycling programs in Germany, Japan and the United States, where jobs and new fuel can be created and the environment can be cleaner by reducing air pollution and hazardous waste (such as that posed by batteries in landfills). Regarding this garbage recycling, our schools could work with the town and library to learn more about our possibilities of creating new jobs, new fuel, cleaning our environment and showing our students that they can make a difference. What a great legacy our students could leave to our town and the world by being a part of this wonderful movement. The possibilities seem endless!
Linda Mahoney: In an ongoing effort, as opportunities arise, I am sure the school district will continue to work collaboratively with the town, such as, combining our purchasing power to obtain better pricing. The school district continues to open its doors to the Parks and Recreation Department and for various town and community functions. We also combine our resources for the annual issuance of the Voter,s Guide. I would like to have a program implemented that would prove very helpful to new residents. We could offer a “Welcome Packet” offering a wide-range of information on town and school services, departments, town government, voting and elections and other important and helpful information.
Ray Perry: As a school board member, it would be my job to encourage, and promote “green” programs that add environmental benefit and cost advantages to our town and schools. I,m glad to see the schools implementing recycling programs that are both educational and have potential revenue streams. This type of program gives our students responsibility for protecting our environment. I am supportive of new programs like geothermal heating and cooling systems. However, these are investments that require analysis to understand the return on investment as well as the ultimate long-range savings to the community. Our district must also be more aggressive seeking federal and private grants that will assist in the creating and execution of “green” programs in our town. Other simple things like, shutting off lights and regulating temperature changes in the building should show direct savings to our operating cost. Lights are easier to control. Unfortunately, our buildings and modular classrooms have poor insulation and air circulation. Modifying our building to gain heat savings would require modifications to our building infrastructure. As we build new buildings, I support looking at new materials that are ultimate energy savings. Regarding cross-educational opportunities, at a recent school board meeting, one of the improvements areas mentioned was giving students more exposure to classic literature. This seems like an excellent area to start a joint project.
Linda Koehler: I think the town/school/community may need to form a study group to solidify what types of programs each would like the other to be involved with. This is not just a school-driven issue. Our schools should maximize the use of what every department has to offer. Sometimes it is just a matter of sitting down and communicating with each other, then developing programs from there. The Conservation Committee could be a great resource for some of our science classes. While computer courses offered to residents at the schools might be another way to connect the schools/town/community. We are a town with a lot to offer, consolidating our resources would be a way to start.
Candidate,s Night will be held on Monday, March 3, at Pelham Elementary School at 7 p.m. It will also be broadcast on PTV. This is another opportunity for residents to ask the candidates questions about their positions on school issues.