BETHEL — The SAD 44 board voted 10-1 Monday night to hold a referendum on whether to borrow
interest-free money to build a second gym and a theater at Telstar Regional High School.
Keith Smith of Andover
was the dissenter.

Superintendent David Murphy said
Tuesday afternoon that the board believes district voters should make the decision on whether to borrow
$5 million under a federal stimulus plan to build a
10,200-square-foot gym and a 7,800-square-foot performing arts
theater that would also be available to the community.

A public meeting on the
project was held July 29 and opinions from the roughly 15 people in the crowd of 70 were almost evenly divided.

Murphy said Smith,
Reuter, Lull architects will work out a more detailed plan before the public
hearing, which will be held before the Nov. 3 referendum.

The gym is proposed for the rear of the existing gym, which serves Telstar middle and high school students. The performing arts center would be constructed to
the left of the cafeteria entrance.

He said residents have discussed the
need for a second gym for many years because often students must
travel to another school in the district for practice, or finish
practice at late hours.

Although many believe the idea is a
good one, some believe that the current economic recession is not the time
for the district to incur debt. Tentative plans call for paying back
the funds over 15 years.

The board unanimously agreed to
offer at least 80 used MacBooks and 100 used iBooks to residents of the district towns — Bethel, Andover, Greenwood, Woodstock and Newry — and
Gilead, Upton, Hanover and Albany Township, which send students to district schools. If all laptop computers are not purchased by district residents, then
anyone interested may purchase one. The MacBooks will sell for $400.
The iBooks will sell for $190.

They became available because the
state replaced all middle school iBooks and issued new
MacBooks to high school students. Murphy said more than 200 are
likely to be available.

Purchasers must fill out a form — copies are
available at the superintendent’s office and in the Aug. 13 issue of
the Bethel Citizen — which will be dated, then submitted to the
district with payment.

Prior to the meeting, board members
honored longtime representatives Keith Farrington of Andover and
Walter Brough of Greenwood.

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