EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 25, 2010

Salem School District officials ready for questions on renovation plans

By Jarret Bencks

SALEM — Residents will have a final opportunity to question school district officials about the proposed $22 million bond to renovate three elementary schools before they vote on it next month.

The district will hold an information session on the proposed projects March 2 at 7 p.m. in the high school's TV studio. The session will be dedicated to answering questions voters have, Superintendent Michael Delahanty said.

"We believe all the information for people is available," Delahanty said. "It's a matter of people coming with questions."

The superintendent, School Board and representatives from the design firm that has drawn up the plans will be on hand, Delahanty said. All community members are invited.

The bond would pay for renovations to Lancaster, Barron and North Salem elementary schools. The three schools were built in the 1960s and have not had substantial renovations in 40 years.

Already facing space problems, the district launched a new kindergarten program this school year, and installed nine portable classrooms at its elementary schools to provide enough space for the youngest students.

The elementary schools lack sprinkler systems and do not have space dedicated to special education and occupational therapy. Those programs are run out of storage rooms, closets and hallways.

The school district has devised a master plan that includes renovation plans for all six elementary schools and the middle school. The proposed bond would finance the first phase of the plan.

In order to pass, the bond article needs 60 percent approval from voters on March 9.

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