Planning Efforts since 2004
A Facilities Committee was formed in June 2004 to examine Newmarket’s options for a possible new Jr/Sr High School. Extensive studies were done involving numerous sites within the Town, but all of them were rejected except for one – the Rockingham Golf Course. The Committee’s work resulted in a proposal on the March 2006 School Warrant to purchase the Rockingham Golf Course and construct a new Jr/Sr High School on that site at a total cost of $35.7 million. Voters rejected this proposal.
The Facilities Committee and School Board continued to study the problem and ultimately proposed on the March 2008 School District Warrant to purchase the Rockingham Golf Course at a cost of $3.2 million. Voters rejected this proposal.
A new Facilities Committee was formed in spring 2010 and assigned the task to develop a master plan to resolve facility needs at both the Elementary School and the Jr/Sr High School. While the community hoped to have a proposal for the Elementary School to consider at the March 2010 Annual Meeting, the Facilities Committee felt the need to present a complete master plan for all facilities so that the community could understand all its options.
Concerns about fire and life safety prompted the School Board to authorize SFC Engineering to do a thorough inspection of our two schools. Their report in June 2009 identified a significant number of issues. Because of the turnover in superintendents and misunderstandings between SFC Engineering and the SAU office, there was no progress in addressing these issues until November 2010. Once these problems surfaced and were being addressed, the priority facility need shifted from the Elementary School to the Jr/Sr High School.
Merger and Tuition Talks 2010-11
At the March 2010 School District Meeting, voters approved an article "To see if the residents of the community desire the School Board to enter into discussion with neighboring districts to consider merging grades 9 through 12". Oyster River, Exeter, Barrington, Epping, Somersworth, Portsmouth, and Raymond school districts were contacted to see if they were willing to discuss a merger involving approximately 300 students. Exeter, Barrington, Raymond, and Somersworth declined because they did not have the space. Discussions were held with Oyster River, Portsmouth, and Epping, none of whom was interested in a “merger” as a long-term arrangement for our high school students.
Discussions with these three districts also covered a possible tuition agreement. Oyster River would consider a short-term (five years or less) agreement but they could accommodate no more than 100 students. Portsmouth would also consider a short-term agreement and could accommodate all 300 students. Only Epping would consider a long-term tuition agreement. We continued to speak with Epping to learn further what a long-term agreement would look like, but in the end the voters in Epping did not support joining with Newmarket in a tuition agreement, and the Epping School Board subsequently voted to discontinue investigating this option.
Tuition Talks with Oyster River
In May 2012, it was learned that Oyster River would consider a long-term (10 or more years) agreement, not short term (5 or less years) and would consider an agreement that would include both middle school and high school students. Oyster River was currently accepting tuition students from Barrington but was looking to have a more stable number of tuition students from year to year, which would then allow them to plan on a more stable revenue stream. Barrington students have three options for attending high school – Dover, Coe Brown, and Oyster River.
The two districts formed representative teams made up of school board members and school and SAU administrators. The transition to a new Oyster River Superintendent slowed discussions, but in October 2012 formal meetings of representative teams from each district began. A summary of those meetings is provided below. At the same time, Oyster River was having similar discussions about a long-term agreement with Barrington and Deerfield.
In early October 2013, a final tuition agreement framework was approved by the Oyster River Cooperative School Board. The tuition agreement framework and accompanying letter from the OR Superintendent is provided below. We were offered the opportunity to negotiate terms for the final agreement. A negotiation session was held on October 22nd, and a follow-up session was held on December 3rd. Oyster River plans to make its final decision between Barrington and Newmarket at its December 18th Board meeting.
Key Documents webpage contains more information
The Key Documents page of our website contains numerous documents that deal with such topics as fire and life safety, facility and program analyses of the current Jr/Sr High School, options for a new or renovated school, and the work and recommendation of the Facilities Committee. If you do not see what you are looking for on this page, please contact Superintendent Jim Hayes.