A trio of residents spoke in favor of renovations and improvements to three Salem elementary schools during a public hearing on Tuesday.
Sherry Kilgus-Kramer, President of Salem's "Strengthen Our Schools" organization, noted three reasons for her group's support of the fixes – security, basic educational adequacy and economic vitality.
"People want good facilities, we want to keep people in the community," she said.
Kilgus-Kramer said that her organization had hoped more for Haigh School, which in the current proposal would only see improvements while Soule and Fisk Elementary Schools would see significant additions.
"We had hoped more for Haigh (School) just because there are children being educated there," she said. "There isn't a plan and obviously everyone needs and deserves to be able to plan for their future, however we stand behind this (proposal) and realize we need to move forward."
In a Facebook message posted on Thursday night, Strengthen Our Schools said that four PTA's in Salem have backed the Phase II proposal:
Tonight, three PTAs voted to advocate for Phase 2 renovations, and one PTA voted in the affirmative last week. Thank you to North Salem, Barron, Fisk and Soule PTAs for your support! Lancaster is meeting on January 22nd and Haigh on February 12th. Please try to attend these meetings if you live in these two school communities. Good things are happening.
Improvements at Walter Haigh will include a revamped sprinkler system, ceiling demolition and replacement, a fire alarm system, lighting replacement, security system and roof repair.
The Fisk School improvements include a small group instruction space, reconfigured staff room, multipurpose room, two additional classrooms, and an improved library.
As for the Soule School, it would receive a gym addition, classroom and small group instruction space, as well as a reconfigured entrance.
Board of Selectmen member Everett McBride Jr. also tossed his support behind the $16.2 million bond.
"I think it's a great plan," he said. "I will certainly do everything I can and make sure that the poeple that I contact on a daily basis support it as well."
Salem resident Richard Wilson said he has had plenty of contact with members of the Salem School Board on the proposed changes.
Wilson said that he had initially been advocating folks to vote 'no' on any renovation plan that didn't include Haigh School.
"The current plan I do believe has reached a level of compromise," Wilson said, adding that he was pleased to hear there is no plan to close Haigh School.
"My recommednation, and yes as a Haigh parent, is to ask those who are going to vote in March to vote through the current proposed renovation plan for all three elementary schools.
Last year voters turned down an article seeking a $22 million bond to renovate the Haigh, Soule and Fisk Elementary Schools as it failed to receive the needed 60 percent to pass.