Nov. 24 Meeting Set for Derry School Facilities Study

The Assessment of Educational Facilities Needs Study has been received by the Derry School Board and will be discussed in a public forum Monday, Nov. 24, at 6:30 p.m. at West Running Brook Middle School.

Mark Joyce will present the report and answer questions.

Joyce and Richard W. Ayers prepared the report under the auspices of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association.

The report includes the following:

• Analysis and review of enrollment projections;

• Review and analysis of local planning documents;

• A tour of each school while in session;

• Interviews with administrators, teachers and staff;

• Creation of a profile of how the existing space (buildings and land) are used throughout the district;

• Development of a list of the types of rooms or spaces needed to accommodate the projected enrollment; and

• Investigation of possible solutions to identified needs and presentation of “feasible options and alternatives.”

The report gives a snapshot of each of the district’s seven schools. For example, for East Derry Memorial Elementary School, it lists 22 classes including one full-day kindergarten; two half-day kindergartens; four first-, second-, fourth- and fifth-grade classes; and three third-grade classes. The school also provides Integrated Arts for all levels. The building was constructed in 1986 and has an estimated 58,874 square feet, of which 57,700 are deemed “livable space.” The property covers 20 acres.

The report lists the school’s perceived strengths, including that it is within a neighborhood and provides opportunities for children to walk to school; it is a “relatively modern” building; and it is located on an “ample site.” Its weaknesses according to the report are that it has only one access road, which could limit emergency evacuation; shortage of staff restrooms; and uneven heat control.

The report uses a mathematical formula to assign a “functional capacity” based on 90 percent of the “overall capacity.” Based on the formula, the functional capacity of each school is:

• East Derry, overall capacity 605, at 90 percent, 544;

• Ernest P. Barka Elementary School, overall capacity 845, at 90 percent, 760;

• Grinnell Elementary School, overall capacity 550, at 90 percent 495;

• Derry Village Elementary School, overall capacity 600, at 90 percent 540;

• South Range Elementary School, overall capacity 545, 90 percent, 490;

• West Running Brook Middle School, overall capacity 600, 90 percent, 540; and

• Gilbert H. Hood Middle School, total capacity 750, 90 percent, 675.

The report has been a lightning rod for critics of the board’s decision this past summer to move the Next Charter School to West Running Brook and relocate DEEP – Derry Early Education Preschool – to Next’s former quarters at Hood. Parents unhappy with the move have pressed for release of the report and more citizen involvement in making decisions surrounding the results.

The study is in draft form and the complete study will be presented after final edits are made.

The report is available at