Frequently Asked Questions

  • Sunapee School District Capital Improvements Committee
    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • The following questions have been raised by Sunapee residents and brought to the attention of the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) Committee. Our intent with this list of FAQs is to create a single source of information; the CIP Committee has done its best to comprehensively address the questions and concerns of our community regarding our school district needs.
  • Should you want to provide feedback about these FAQs or ask additional questions that have not been addressed here, please contact the Sunapee School District Superintendent, Russell Holden at rholden@sunapeeschools.org or 603-763-4627.
  • What is the role of the School Board’s Capital Improvement Committee?
    • The CIP Committee role is to review yearly the facility and major project needs of the District and to make recommendations to the full school board as to how and when they should be addressed.
  • How can I stay informed about the status of this project?
    • Use the district website: https://sau85.org and click on the Capital Improvements Projects link to review all information relevant to project.
  • Why has the School Board hired an architectural firm and a project manager to conduct a full evaluation of our district needs?
    • The Elementary School is 92 years old and does not have adequate space to house the existing student programs or meet core needs with respect to space such as adequate classroom size, flexible areas, individual programs space, nurse areas and cafeteria. In addition, most mechanical systems are at the end of their useful lives and are in need of replacement.
    • The Middle/ High School was originally constructed in 1973 and, despite the addition in 1998 and some life safety issues having been addressed, it also has instructional and mechanical needs.
  • What are the space and safety concerns associated with our current district facilities that we are trying to address?
    • At the Jr./Sr. High School we are looking to address the following needs:
      • Update science labs & Family Consumer Science lab
      • Develop a larger community space with a stage for performing arts
      • Individual program spaces for reading, Life Skills, speech, occupational therapy, autism
      • Repurpose use of space (administration, office, guidance, nurse)
      • Redesign cafeteria and kitchen space
      • Mechanical, HVAC, and electrical systems and replacement of existing boilers
      • Lack of storage
    • At the Elementary School we are looking to address the following needs:
      • Develop adequate classrooms that allow flexibility for more current teaching practices
      • Individual program spaces for reading, STEAM, Life Skills, speech, occupational therapy, autism
      • Create a small intervention room for testing, remediation, small groups
      • Remove the portable classrooms
      • Traffic flow/safety
      • Second egress, parking
      • More secure main entrance into the building
      • Meet current state fire and building codes
      • Life safety issue (stairwell…)
      • Updated ADA restroom and other ADA code issues
      • Lack of storage (currently equipment is stored in the hallway and outdoor sheds)
      • Mechanical systems are at the end of useful life
      • Playgrounds
    • In addition, we are looking to address the following needs with our Fields:
      • Playing fields for school and community use
  • How will “needs” versus “wants” be evaluated?
  • Sunapee has seen declining student enrollment, so why are we considering such costly renovations and/or new construction to expand our facilities as a result?
    • The Sunapee School District utilized the New England School Development Council (NESDEC) to complete an enrollment study in 2019 (follow the link below to review full details):
      https://sau85.org/capital_improvement_projects/enrollment
      While our district has seen some decline in student enrollment since the early 2000’s, current projections indicate that our enrollment numbers are expected to remain stable for the foreseeable future. As the School Choice conversation continues at both the national and state level, Sunapee is also positioned to benefit from this legislative change which could translate into an increase of our enrollment projection.
  • Why are tuition students factored into our student enrollment numbers?
    • The Sunapee school district has had a long history of accepting tuition students. Sunapee established itself as a single school district in 2008. From that point to today the District has raised 2 million dollars from tuition student revenues which has been used to lower the yearly tax rate. Tuition students enrich our classroom and learning experiences and bring value to Sunapee students. While small can be better at the elementary level, small can have a negative impact in middle or high school level classes where more student voices to hold discussions and debates or to share different perspectives enriches the educational experience. Tuition students also contribute to this dynamic by keeping current classes and programs accessible to Sunapee students. An example is, we may have 4 students who would like to take a pre-engineering class but the administration, because of the low number of students enrolled, may determine not to run that program. The addition of 2 tuition students making it a class of 6, however, would certainly allow us to run that pre-engineering program. Education is where our children learn about the differences of other children’s perspectives, values and outlook. Experiences without a variety from which our students can learn would only allow them to experience like-minded people which certainly would not help prepare them for the world beyond Sunapee schools.
  • Why are we not considering closing the high school and moving our students to a regional/district high school?
    • We are not at the point of considering closure of the high school as an option at this time. The intent of our school board is to move our district/schools forward relative to our mission and strategic goals. To that end, the school board does not feel that high school closure is in the best interest of our students, families, or community.
  • What are the differences between this project and the failed March, 2019 proposed warrant article?
    • The March, 2019 warrant article was based on a new construction/remodel plan to address the Elementary School needs only.
      We are starting anew with a different firm, Banwell Architects, and looking holistically at our full district needs. Banwell has significant experience working with school districts across the state to help evaluate their immediate and future needs and has in depth knowledge and expertise as it relates to state educational requirements, guidelines, and best practices. We are considering our current and projected student population as well as respective educational needs based on current state and local guidelines.
  • What is the difference in the life expectancy of a new building vs. that of a renovated building?
    • While we have not reached any conclusions with respect to a proposed solution yet, whether we go forward with a proposed new construction or a renovation/remodel project, either will be designed with the intention of serving the community for many years with appropriate maintenance and care.
  • Will the proposals incorporate green designs?
    • Yes, proposed projects at both schools incorporate sustainable designs to the extent possible.
  • What are the consequences if we do not do something to address our facility needs?
    • The school district has major infrastructure and safety issues to address, particularly in the Elementary School. Continuing to delay investing in a long-term solution means that we continue to spend money on expensive short-term fixes without addressing our major problems. In the meantime, construction and bonding costs will likely continue to rise making future repairs more expensive.