Sunapee Central Elementary School
The Next 50 Years

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Front elevation of SCES plan

Sunapee School Board Supports Proposed Elementary School Comprehensive Improvement Project

At the December 16th Sunapee School Board meeting, the Board voted unanimously to support a Comprehensive Improvement Project for the Sunapee Elementary School. The Board has reached this decision after receiving extensive input from the community at-large as well as the Sunapee Community Advisory Committee that was formed in July 2020. The estimated cost for this comprehensive solution to address the extensive list of health, safety, and mechanical issues with the 90+ year old facility is $10.6 million. The board will present this in a warrant article to Sunapee voters in March.

Although the proposed one campus K-12 project was defeated by voters in 2020, the School Board continues to face long-standing issues at the elementary school that have yet to be addressed. Health, safety, and mechanical issues were identified in the 1996 Brown Report, 2005 Team Design reports, 2015 Facility and Educational Harriman studies, as well as the 2019 Educational and Facility/Program Needs, and Educational Specifications completed by Banwell.

The Board’s Capital Improvement Committee (CIP) has been working with Energy Efficiency Investment (EEI), a design/build firm specializing in energy performance contracting, out of Merrimack, NH since July 2020 to develop the new plan that will be presented to the voters in March. EEI has been able to utilize the previous work completed by Harriman (2016) and Banwell Architects (2019) to assist in the new plan development. Of note, prior to commencement of the project, a thorough evaluation of the structural integrity of the elementary school structure was performed by civil engineers supporting EEI to ensure the viability and sustainability of the building structure itself. While minor structural issues were identified, the building was determined to be structurally safe for continued long-term use.

The Sunapee School Board has listened to the community, and sought a lower cost solution, focusing solely on the most pressing issues affecting the 1929 elementary school. At this time, the board has stepped away from further discussion surrounding the middle high school needs, including the athletic field issues. The proposed plan is comprehensive to all of the elementary school needs, specifically, all identified health, safety, and mechanical issues and provides a long-term and sustainable solution for the elementary school facility.

The Comprehensive Improvement Project for Sunapee Elementary School addresses safety issues identified in a recent fire inspection completed by the state fire marshal and the local fire chief (a list of issues can be found at In addition, the plan also calls for new heating, ventilation, and electrical systems, ADA compliance, a secure entrance to the facility, all school programs to be housed within one building, removal of a modular classroom, and a new playground that does not require crossing a public road.

The plan also includes a number of energy efficiency savings that are projected to provide long-term cost benefit for the district. Of note, the plan includes the installation of a biomass wood plant to heat the elementary school and the Sherburne Gym. The overall cost difference for the biomass addition is approximately $100,000 with an estimated return on investment of 4-5 years. The estimated savings thereafter, is estimated at approximately $50,000/year.

Further details regarding the proposed plan can be found at

The School Board appreciates the work and efforts of the Sunapee Community Advisory Committee that was formed as a result of a majority favorable non-binding 2020 petition warrant article. The article asked that a committee of all stakeholders be created to investigate alternatives to new school construction. Community members interested in serving on the committee were invited to contact the SAU, and the Board was able to honor the request of all interested community members to participate. As a result, in July 2020, the Sunapee Community Advisory Committee was formed as a group of nine community members representing many different points of view. The newly formed committee was given a charge by the School Board to report back to the Board with its recommendations.

At the December 2nd School Board meeting, the Community Committee Chair, Michael Haxton, presented the report to the School Board. The Community Committee unanimously supported keeping Sunapee a K-12 district as a priority. The committee provided five recommendations for consideration; one of which was supported by a majority vote (6-3 in favor) to move forward with the proposed EEI Comprehensive Improvement Project. The School Board is very appreciative of the work the Community Committee has done over the past six months and thanks them for their insights and involvement.

The full report provided by the Community Advisory Committee can be found in the Supporting Documents on the website.

The School Board will present a warrant article for consideration at the January 13, 2021 Budget/Bond Hearing at the Sunapee Middle High School Gymnasium starting at 5pm. Additional information about the proposed project can be found at