HAVERHILL — School leaders and architects for the proposed $61.5 million kindergarten-to-grade-eight school in the city’s Bradford section aced a major test last night.
City councilors asked the team developing the project to provide information about why smaller, less expensive options for replacing the deteriorated Hunking Middle School were discounted and to convince them the Hunking property is suitable for a new building.
Jim LaPosta, chief architect for the JCJ Architecture firm that is designing the new school, said the largest option to accommodate 1,005 students is actually the least expensive choice for Haverhill because it would allow the city to replace the outdated and deteriorated Greenleaf School and send Greenleaf students to the new school.
If Greenleaf remains open, the city must spend $11 million to renovate the building and make it accessible to physically disabled students, LaPosta said.
Superintendent James Scully said replacing Hunking with a new kindergarten-to-grade-eight-school would allow the district to relieve overcrowding at Bradford Elementary School, as well as other city schools. He said about 200 students who live in Bradford are now bused to schools in other parts of the city because there isn’t room for them in Bradford buildings. He also said the proposed 1,005-student school would have room for about 100 students outside Bradford in an advanced middle school program.
“This is a city issue, not a Bradford problem, because if we don’t build a new school we’ll have to find room for 500 kids at other schools, and every single other school is already overcrowded,” Scully said.
Councilors raved about the presentation and unanimously backed the proposal.
“This was the best presentation for any project I’ve even seen,” Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien said. “I don’t think any one of us is going to disagree with you about the importance of this project for our children and the city.”