School board chair Seth Boyd said that the building was closed after business hours due to safety and security concerns that were brought up at a previous school board meeting. Windham Southwest Supervisory Union, which is a tenant of the building, has been managing the building voluntarily, but doing so has become challenging. Concerns have risen around the number of people who have keys to access the building, whether those keys are being shared, and whether key holders are using the building outside of the time they’ve been given permission to do so. Building users are also accessing areas of the building they don’t have permission to go in.
The major issues facing the board are how to manage the building after business hours and who should have access to the building. On the former, suggestions included hiring someone to manage comings and goings after business hours or using an electronic system to track who accesses the building and when. Patrice Schneider, who works as a real estate agent, said there are apps that grant access to keys, which track who uses a key and when. The board was open to the suggestion, and Roland Schneider said he would get more information on pricing.
The latter issue was more complicated. Attendees of the meeting, many of whom have been frozen out of the building while the board figures out what to do, asked whether some criteria could be laid out for who can use the building, such as relegating use to Wilmington and Whitingham residents only. WSWSU Business Manager Karen Atwood said that she asked the supervisory union’s lawyer whether criteria such as being a resident could be set forth, but she was told that could be viewed as discrimination. Recently, the board was faced with the possibility of a lawsuit when an individual said he was being discriminated against after being told he couldn’t join a private activity in the building.
Because the board hadn’t yet been officially sworn in following Town Meeting, the meeting was a discussion only. “We can’t take any action until we’re sworn in,” said Boyd. The board set goals of seeking further legal counsel for the discrimination issue, figuring out how to manage after-hours building use, and revisiting their policies and procedures about the building.
“The groups who are using it responsibly now, our goal is to get them back in as soon as possible,” said board member Kathy Larsen. “Hopefully we’ll be able to do that by next Tuesday’s board meeting.”