Board Seeks Voter OK on Rent for Charter School

The Derry School Board will ask voters in the March election to approve a 10-year lease with Next Charter School that would require the charter high school to pay rent to the district beginning in the 2016-17 school year.

At its Dec. 15 meeting, the board discussed and approved a new lease for Next, which is currently located in the former Technology Education space at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School.

If approved by voters, the lease would charge Next $20,732 per year, with a total $237,678 in revenue to the district by the 10th year. Including capital improvement expenditures estimated at $206,000, the total payment to the School District over 10 years would be $443,678.09. With a 3 percent annual increase, the annual cost to Next would be $27,651 by Year 10.

Superintendent Laura Nelson presented the lease. She reminded the board and audience that the original Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Next called for the charter school to rent space from the district at $1 per year. She sketched the history of Next, including its first quarters in the DEEP (Derry Early Education Program) preschool space at Hood, moving to West Running Brook Middle School, and moving back to Hood in the Tech Ed rooms in the basement.

Nelson said, “Next did a lot of work refurbishing that space. With the move, it was time to think about a 10-year lease.”

The district conferred with its legal counsel and because this is a 10-year lease, it was recommended they get approval from the voters.

Board member Ken Linehan, who along with fellow board member Brenda Willis sits on the Next board, said the charter school spent $200,000 of its own funds refurbishing the Tech Ed space to fit Next needs, and the renovation was “working well.”

Board chairman Dan McKenna said the goal with Next is to be revenue-neutral. He said the lease amount was arrived at using a formula including the cost of utilities Next is using at Hood, the district’s cost of removing asbestos and remodeling the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system, and giving Next credit for its expenses in the remodeling.

The lease, if approved, will give Next access to its portion of the Hood building for up to 10 years.

Linehan asked Nelson if the voters would have access to the lease document, and Nelson said it will be available by the budget hearing Jan. 12. She explained that the lease has to go through legal counsel first. However, she said, the details of the financial impact are on the district Web site at

The board voted unanimously to add the lease to the warrant.