EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 1, 2014

Pro-new school groupto launch public campaign

150 volunteers meeting tomorrow at Barking Dog


“It’s been one thing after another,” Superintendent James Scully said. “In addition to the major problems with the foundation, we’ve had problems with the roof and now water is seeping in from the walls.”

Last week, City Council scheduled an election June 10 to ask voters to temporarily raise property taxes to pay the city’s estimated $24 million share of the approximately $61.5 million project.

The state has agreed to pay the balance for a 1,005-student building in the city’s Bradford section that will serve students in kindergarten to grade eight. It is to be next to the existing school.

Scully said project engineers and architects expect to finalize the exact cost of the new school this week.

“The city’s opportunity for reimbursement of more than 60 percent of allowed construction costs rests with voter approval,” the citizens group said in its press release. “Haverhill for Hunking organized as a ballot question committee under Massachusetts law to campaign in favor of the project and to urge voters to support the June 10 debt exclusion vote.”

Peugh said volunteers with the campaign will be talking to all constituent groups in the city, “especially those without children who might not be aware of the benefits to them of the new school, such as protection of property values and making Haverhill more attractive to new businesses looking for a place to locate.”

Mayor James Fiorentini has said the city can’t afford to build the new school without a debt exclusion, which allows the city to exempt its share of the cost from the constraints of the Proposition 2-1/2 law. That law limits how much a community can raise taxes in a given year.

Without a debt exclusion, the city would have to pay its share of the cost in its annual operating budget. To do that, there would have to be “massive cuts” in other spending, including money for police officers, firefighters and teachers, the mayor said.

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