EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

February 2, 2014

Parents kick off new school drive

Work to convince voters to pay for Hunking replacement

HAVERHILL — The campaign to build a new Hunking School took a major step forward last week in Boston when state school building officials voted to place the estimated $61.5 million project into its funding pipeline.

But there’s another meeting this week in Haverhill that may be even more important to the project’s ultimate success or failure.

A group of parents has formed what they are calling a “municipal ballot committee.’’ They will hold an organizational meeting Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Bradford County Club, 201 Chadwick Road.

“The meeting is sort of a membership drive to broaden support for a new school,” said Deana Papanikolauo, one of the organizers who has two children at the current Hunking School, a deteriorated building that needs replacement, according to school officials. “We want to stress that this is for the city as a whole, not just Bradford.”

Last week’s vote by the state School Building Authority’s board of directors to place the project into its funding pipeline sets the stage for the city to hire a company to build the school. Superintendent James Scully said he expects the builder to be hired as soon as this week.

The state vote also signals the start of a local campaign to win the support of voters to pay the city’s $24 million share of building the new school. The vote is expected to be held in June.

The proposed 148,000-square-foot school is to be built next to the existing Hunking and accommodate up to 1,005 students in kindergarten through grade eight. It is to include at least two levels.

“Listening to the needs of a community and developing projects accordingly are our priorities” said Steven Grossman, who is state treasurer and building authority chairman. “Thanks to our collaborative effort with local officials, we are working to build a safe and modern educational facility that will provide students with a top-notch learning environment.”

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