SAU39 - Amherst, NH


Answers to Your Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

when will the vote occur? what percentage is needed to pass?

The vote will take place March 2022, and requires 60% voter support. 


Have you surveyed the community?

Yes, an initial community survey was conducted in Summer 2020, yielding 1,058 responses. Building safety, and class size ratios ranked highest among survey respondent concerns.   We will continue to survey, communicate, and check in with the community throughout 2021.  


When would these projects begin & end?


*Ground Breaking, SPRING 2023

*SPRING 2025 – New Elementary School is Complete

*SUMMER 2026 – Middle School Construction Complete


What will the tax impact be for the Committee Recommendations?

**PLEASE NOTE: Tax impact estimated below is for plans presented in Fall 2020.  Plans are currently undergoing another round of revisions for scope and cost.  STAY TUNED.  3/14/21***

The recommended plan that includes a new Elementary school and renovated AMS is expected to have an ESTIMATED tax impact of around $2.35/thousand of property value/ per year at its PEAK. Based on this estimate, the average home in Amherst could see an increase of roughly $829/year in the first year of the bond, with the rate decreasing in subsequent years.

This rate could further be reduced with increased property valuations.  Impact fees from any new construction may also help to offset.

Funding, Grants, and State/Federal aid could potentially be available that would help lower costs and tax rate.

*This graph represents projected tax impact of the bond.  It does not represent additional capital reserve fund savings or projects in the Souhegan Cooperative School District.

Tax Rate Impact

Blue=Clark/Wilkins   Red=AMS


Do the new plans account for a larger student enrollment in the future?


New Elementary:

  • Designed for an ideal capacity of: 909 students K-5 (per projected enrollment), with room to accomodate PK as well.
  • Maximum Capacity of Building: 993 Students

The reason these are different is simple math.  That difference accounts for the fact that students will not arrive in groups of 18 or 22 kids so you cannot design to the exact population.  As an example, the 2nd grade is anticipated to have 152 kids.  We allow up to 18 kids per class.  So we need 8.44 classrooms.  We created 9 rooms – which can accommodate up to a maximum of 162 kids.  Overall we have a 10% growth factor (also called a 90% utilization factor).

Preschool is calculated differently since they offer different services to different kids.

Middle School:

  • Designed for an ideal capacity of: 550 students (per projected enrollment) grades 6-8
  • Maximum Capacity of Building: 660 students.

At the middle school we have more flexibility in the classrooms, as they are subject-based rooms.  By starting with 2 teams of 8 classrooms at each grade level – we could accommodate 176 kids per grade.  That works for some years, but not for others.  So we added a standard sized Language Classroom to every team.  That gives us the flexibility to modify the teams to have up to 5 classrooms per team – or 220 kids per grade level in the years that they need it.  Here that calculates to a 20% growth factor.

What happens if we do nothing?

Doing nothing is a costly option.  Many of the existing systems within the current Elementary and Middle school are at, near, or have exceeded their useful life.  Simply to stay in the buildings will require updates to major systems in the near future.  These updates will cost many millions and still not address space constraints, air quality, academic needs or other major deficiencies of the buildings.  Investing millions to maintain a status quo that does not meet the needs of our CURRENT enrollment and student body, let alone any potentional growth,  is a waste of taxpayer money. 

 Doing nothing is simply “kicking the can down the road.”

What is the average life span of a school building?

 Varies by system: 

◦Roof: 30 years. 

◦MEP systems: 30 Years. 

◦ Flooring: dependent on choice – likely 20 years. 

Most school buildings are due for renovation around the 50 year mark.

Wilkins is 53 years old, AMS is 48 years old.  Both need renovation to remain in use.

The proposed buildings are made of durable materials with a target lifespan of 50+ years.

What are the cost benefits of doing both the Elementary and AMS projects at the same time?
  • Locking into today’s construction rates which are expected to increase 4-5% annually.
  • Taking advantage of today’s record low bond rates.  
  • Additionally there are cost advantages with material purchasing and construction scheduling by running two simultaneous projects.
Why did the committee choose to locate on the current wilkins site?
The existing site was chosen to provide the community with the following:
  • A lower development cost, avoiding costs to acquire land, construct utilities, and a year’s worth of site exploration and permitting, with a savings of approximately $3.3 million dollars.
  • A new elementary school that remains in the Village.
  • A new elementary school consolidated into ONE central building in the Village; resulting in cost and operational/administrative efficiencies. 
How do the construction costs compare to other districts with similar projects?
The costs below indicate Hard Construction Costs only.  **The total cost of a project includes both Hard Construction Costs, plus “Soft Costs”.  Soft costs include Contingencies, Permitting Fees, Testing, Engineering and Design, Clerk of the Works / Owners Project Manager, Furnishings, Insurance, Technology infrastructure, Legal Counsel, Etc.  Typically, school projects average 20-30% in soft costs.  Our projects are calculating to just under 20% soft costs, as we have been cost-conscience with all aspects of our projects.
Can we apply for State aid?

This program now requires a successful bond vote before you are awarded any funding. We cannot guarantee what amount we will get before a vote.

We can apply once shovel-ready (post bond approval and when designs are 75-100% complete). The application deadline will likely be January 2022 and wouldn’t be awarded until July of 2023.

What are our current Energy Costs and what would they be with new/renovated facilites?

We currently spend $1.64/sf/yr

Average energy cost for schools in the U.S. is $1.50/sf/yr

Target Cost per Square Foot for high performance school $1.00/sf/yr

Energy modeling is an additional cost and will occur post bond

Based on these numbers and our estimated total square footage we can expect to have an overall lower energy cost than we are currently paying even with an increase in square footage from 191,000sq ft to 274,300 sq ft.

Current:  191,000 sq ft * $1.64 = $313,240 /yr

New: 274, 300 sq ft * $1.00 = $274, 300 /yr

Saving roughly $40,000/yr.


What are the plans for clark school?

There are many ideas for how best to utilize the Clark School building and grounds.  A sub-committee has been formed and will be meeting with community and stakeholder groups to present options to the town. 



Please provide us your feedback, questions, ideas, and suggestions.  We want to hear from you. You must include an email address in order to receive a direct response. Thank you!