By Shawn Regan
---- — HAVERHILL — The city expects to hire a company within the next few weeks to oversee the design and construction of the new Hunking Middle School, Superintendent James Scully said.
Scully said a committee reviewing prospective companies for the project manager job has narrowed the list of candidates to five or six firms.
He said the primary job of the project manager will be to work with an architectural firm, which is expected to be hired sometime next year.
In October 2011, about 140 Hunking sixth-graders were moved to the formerly vacant Bartlett School after problems were discovered with a section of the foundation under Hunking’s north wing that raised fears that a portion of the building could collapse.
Temporary repairs to the foundation were completed over the summer, which allowed all students to return to the building for this school year. The repairs are expected to make the building safe for at least four years. In the meantime, Haverhill wants to get a replacement school built.
“We have four years to get out (of Hunking), so we really have to keep moving on this,” Scully said, noting it is expected to take at least 18 months from the start of construction until the school is built.
Preliminary estimates have pegged the cost of the new school at $50 million to $62 million, but it could be less if officials decide to back a smaller school with a less expensive design. Haverhill’s share of a project of that size is estimated at $10 million to $15 million. A preliminary schedule provided by the state shows Haverhill seeking approval of voters for the city’s share of the final cost in spring 2014.
Scully has said he favors building a kindergarten-through-eighth grade school for as many as 1,200 students.
In October, the state agreed to pay for most of an $800,000 study to determine the size, cost and design of the proposed replacement school in Bradford. A building committee, which includes School Committee members, city councilors and other city officials, recently held its first meeting, Scully said.
The city plans to demolish the 50-year-old Hunking building when the new school opens.