STODDARD, N.H. — Bucking a trend that’s seen the number of students in the nation’s classrooms climb with the population of small cities, James Faulkner Elementary School in Stoddard will soon begin construction on a new classroom to accommodate a recent growth spurt in its student body.
In the half decade between 2011 and 2016, the school’s enrollment increased by nearly 50 percent. The school first addressed its growing needs by installing a modular classroom back in 2013. Because the average class size of the school has continued to grow, the new 1,240-square-foot classroom will serve as a permanent solution — for now.
The four-year-old temporary classroom, which was installed inside of a multipurpose room (that would occasional double as a community center), has found a second life as a library and an instruction space for small groups. Regaining the community space will be a boon to area residents who use it for a variety of civic functions and ceremonies.
“We’re very much conscious of, once our new classroom is built, using that as soon as it’s ready, because we want to give that space back to the community for their use,” Lisa Davenport, vice chairwoman of the Stoddard School Board and chairwoman of the James Faulkner Elementary School Building Committee, told local news source the Keene Sentinel.
“We’ve made the classroom space in the Community Room work using portable panel walls, but it is by no means ideal,” said Teaching Principal Martha LeMahieu in a statement. “The new classroom addition will give the school full use of the Community Room for what it was intended — a school gymnasium, cafeteria and Town of Stoddard Community Room.”
The new classroom is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017. MacMillin, a DEW Construction Affiliate in Keene, N.H., was the low bidder for the project, coming in at $399,500, according to a statement from the school. The total project cost is $493,000. At the Stoddard School District Annual Meeting last March, voters approved $172,000 to be raised from taxation, with the $321,000 remaining to come from the Stoddard School Build, Design, Expansion, Renovation and Construction Expendable Trust that was established in 2007.
The school has every reason to make a community room available to the area’s voters, who summoned the political will to push through a six-figure, one-time expenditure on behalf of the learning institution. The $172,000 figure was raised via taxes and approved by voters in March 2017. Davenport expressed gratitude to voters for approving the tax. Of note is the fact that, in 2016, voters rejected a $2.2 million plan the school had presented seeking funds for renovation and additions.