EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


September 17, 2013

Scully pitches for new school

Some councilors question why $61.5M plan favored

HAVERHILL — School Superintendent James Scully will bring the architect for a proposed new school to tonight's City Council meeting to discuss the $61.5 million plan — the largest and most expensive option being considered.

The School Committee and the Hunking Building Committee voted Aug. 29 to support replacing the deteriorated Hunking Middle School with a kindergarten-to-grade-eight school for 1,007 students.

Several councilors said they support the proposal, but are disappointed school officials and the architect did not provide more information about other, less expensive options at the Aug. 29 meeting.

Councilors said they hope to receive that information tonight, as well as the rationale for why the smaller school options have been discounted. Some councilors said they also want to review new findings that the Hunking site is suitable for new construction, despite concerns the property does not drain properly and that its condition contributed to the premature deterioration of the existing building.

Mayor James Fiorentini, who supports the kindergarten-to-grade-eight school proposal, said he will also attend tonight's meeting and wants to see all the council's questions answered.

"I want a deliberate and out-in-the-open process," Fiorentini said. "We want the council's support for a K-to-8 school and we will do whatever they want to get it. We're not going to rush this and we don't want it to appear that we are pushing it down their throat."

Councilor Colin LePage said he and other councilors were invited to meet in small groups with the architects yesterday in the mayor's office.

The JCJ architectural firm studied three other options that included new buildings with fewer grade levels and students, but none of those options were formally presented or even described at the Aug. 29 meeting, school and city officials said.

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