Lebanon Planning Board to talk school expansion

By PATRICK ADRIAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 03-17-2023 11:53 PM

LEBANON — The Planning Board will hold a public hearing on Monday to consider the school district’s expansion plan for Lebanon High School and Hanover Street School.

The Lebanon School District seeks city approval of its plan to construct three building additions and a new school entrance at its school complex on Hanover Street, which houses the high school and 329 elementary students attending grades K-4.

Lebanon voters approved the renovation project at last year’s annual school meeting, where they voted, 955-533, to authorize a $14.53 million bond. The vote was the school board’s fourth attempt in five years to secure residents’ approval to fund the renovations, which requires a 60% majority of voters to support a bond.

The approved proposal, which passed with a 64% voter approval rate, was reduced significantly in cost from 2020, when a $20.4 million renovation proposal failed, with support from only 56% of voters.

These additions will be the first significant upgrades to the two schools since 2002.

A building addition to the high school will house a new band room with individual practice spaces and a new main entrance with Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant pedestrian access.

According to a Valley News story in 2022, Lebanon High School Band Director Dominick DeFrancisco said the existing band room is not adequately soundproofed, which can be disturbing to other classrooms during music classes or band practices, and students said the space is sometimes so overcrowded that they have to rehearse in the cafeteria or in stairwells.

Senior Miles Sturges said having an ADA-accessible main entrance will be more inclusive and convenient to people with physical disabilities who currently have to travel to a separate entrance.

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The two additions to the Hanover Street School will provide a new cafeteria and stage, four new classrooms, a nurse’s suite, and upgrades to the library and media center and to spaces for student support services.

At present, the high school and elementary school share a single cafeteria, which creates challenges to schedule lunches or group meetings, according to the Valley News story.

The combined building additions will require relocating sheds and “the removal of an existing building” to clear space for the additions, according to the project application.

The school district will also ask the Planning Board to waive requirements to conform to city regulations for landscape lighting, among others.

The school district states in its application that its plans “generally conform to the regulations” and that these “limited modifications” — which would require additional studies or labor in some cases — would have “no benefit to the (school district) or the city.”

The public hearing will take place at 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

Construction also began in 2022 for additions to West Lebanon’s Mount Lebanon Elementary School, a $5.5 million project funded with money from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, or ESSER. These renovations include a new kitchen, a 2,000-square-foot multipurpose room, upgrades to the nurse’s office and improvements to sidewalks, parking and driveways intended to increase traffic safety.

Patrick Adrian may be reached at padrian@vnews.com or at 603-727-3216.

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