Former School Board Member to Author Citizens’ Petition for New School

October 30, 2015



by Barbara O’Brien

Immediately after the Windham School Board concluded its discussion of proposals to renovate and build an addition to Golden Brook School — a session during which estimated costs were introduced; ones that exceeded the expectations of most in attendance — former school board member Michael Joanis said he intended to author a citizen-petitioned warrant article proposing construction of a new seventh and eighth grade school.

“Based on what was presented at the Windham School Board meeting, on October 20, 2015, with a Golden Brook School and Windham Middle School renovation project costing north of $30 million, I expect to propose this as a citizens’ petition,” Joanis stated.  What Joanis was referring to by the term “this” is the Windham School District Facilities Committee recommendation for a seventh and eighth grade school; the same one that was put forth to voters in March of 2013.

Known as Warrant Article 2, the 2013 proposal reads as follows:  “To see if the district will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $31 million for the purpose of constructing and equipping a new school and related field on London Bridge Road and upgrades to Windham High School fields to include turf surface, lighting and seating; $31 million of such sum to be raised through the issuance of bonds or notes.”

At the time this proposal was originally sent to voters in March of 2013, the existing school board “recommended” the warrant article.  The proposal failed to garner the 60-percent majority vote it required, however, and went down to defeat.  Many of those who said they voted against the construction of this project noted that they didn’t like the idea of having five public schools in the district; a situation which would most likely increase annual operating costs.  It was after the defeat of this proposal that facilities committee members began to focus on renovating and building an addition to Golden Brook School, as well as renovating Windham Middle School.

It’s Joanis’ contention that the project intended for Golden Brook and Windham Middle School has now reached the point where it would be more economical, as well as educationally superior to build a brand- new school on the approximately 70 acres already owned by the Windham School District.

Prior to proposing a citizen-petitioned warrant article to the school board, Joanis would need to collect a minimum 25 signatures of registered Windham voters.

When asked for his opinion of Joanis putting forth a citizen-petitioned proposal for school construction, School Board Chairman Ken Eyring responded, “I’m not familiar with what Mr. Joanis’ proposal will be regarding a new school, so it is difficult to provide a comment at this time. However, if there is more than one construction project on the ballot in March for our school district, it will greatly decrease the chance for any construction project to be passed,” he said.