In Allenstown, two antiquated schools might be replaced by something new  

  • Music teacher Mike Kenyon leads the band at the Armand Dupont School in Allenstown on Tuesday, February 18, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Armand DuPont elementary school principal Shannon Kruger shows where the main water line comes into the school in the girls bathroom on Friday, March 29, 2019. The piping is still good but needs to be replaced eventually. GEOFF FORESTER

  • In this March 2019 file photo, Armand DuPont Principal Shannon Kruger points out windows in the classrooms that need to be replaced for energy efficiency. Monitor file

  • Armand DuPont elementary school principal Shannon Kruger shows where the motar needs to be replaced for the brick on outside of the gym on Friday, March 29, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER

  • The school deliberative meeting at the Armand R Dupont School in Allenstown gets under way Saturday morning, February 3, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER

  • There have been cases of extreme temperature differences inside Armand Dupont, leading to the school’s closure. Monitor file

  • Armand R. Dupont School fifth-grader Diwana Pokhrel leaves her science class with her coat after being dismissed on Wednesday. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Armand R. Dupont School fifth grader Diwana Pokhrel stands at the back of her science class with her coat on just before being dismissed on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor columnist
Published: 2/10/2021 4:38:41 PM

The of signs of disrepair and neglect at the two schools in Allenstown – covering kindergarten through eighth grade – are everywhere.

For three years before COVID’s quarantining effect, the top school district officials laid out the problems they and their students have been facing in recent years and continue to face during hybrid scheduling. Things like flooding and cold temperatures in classrooms are relatively common.

The issue will be addressed on election day, March 9, when residents go to the polls to decide if spending $32.5 million for a new school – to replace both Armand R. Dupont and Allenstown Elementary Schools – is a good idea.

Residents would agree to pay back a $13 million bond. The other $19.5 million would come from a state building aid grant.

Even if that measure, which would require a three-fifths majority to pass, is rejected, the next warrant will still ask for $450,000 to pay for 59 acres on River Road in Allenstown, where the town wants to build the new school, showing that hope remains no matter what happens on election day.

Shannon Kruger, the principal at both Armand Dupont and Allenstown Elementary, would like to get this done now.

“This is a big one,” Kruger said. “My hope is that we can have a new school building so that we can help our students expand the exposure of their education. People I talk to are parents, people in our building, and they know what the students are getting in this district.”

Kruger, School Superintendent Peter Warburton and School Board Chair Kris Raymond painted a disturbing picture of what students at these schools see and feel on a daily basis. The last time any substantial renovation occurred on the schools was 32 years ago.

“Every week it feels like it’s something,” Kruger said, “Last week a teacher went to close a window and it broke.”

Stories about flooding in the locker rooms, boiler room and cafeteria surfaced like rising water. Electrical problems exist. Music and computer and language programs suffer due to lack of space.

Extreme temperature differences inside Armand Dupont creep up at times, leading to the school’s closure. Sometimes, the gym has been in the mid 90s, while the other end of the building has dropped to 60 degrees, or lower.

“We’re still facing all those challenges,” Kruger said.

Added Warburton: “They discussed it a lot and the (school) board finally decided in the spring of 2018 to get a consultant and see where we are.”

And thus began the arduous process of forming committees and scheduling meetings, hosting listening sessions, community forums, hiring consultants and contractors and surveyors, and sending state building aid applications to the Department of Education.

Scoring on a 1 to 10 basis, with 10 representing the schools least in need of help, and 1 as the highest priority, the DOE said Allenstown was a 2.

“It’s a terrible thing to be a 2,” Warburton said, “but it shows how much it is needed.”

And while that’s true, there’s the matter of paying back $13 million. Plus, if the measure does not pass, the application process would start over.

Wrote Raymond in the town’s School Meeting Voter Guide, posted online, “We understand it is not easy as an Allenstown taxpayer to have a large bond to be paid for. We feel the time is right because of the positive happenings within Allenstown that has fostered growth.”

Meanwhile, the school district requested an operating budget of $11.5 million, which includes $75,000 deposits into trust funds for building maintenance and special education.

But the first warrant article, developed over the past three years, will draw the most attention.

“I don’t have a good sense if it will pass or not,” Warburton said. “This is the most important vote I think for Allenstown voters in a very long time.”

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