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March 12, 2014

Salem voters OK high school project

Proposal receives overwhelming support at the polls

SALEM — Salem High School will receive a $74.7 million makeover after voters approved major renovations to the aging building yesterday.

The project, which required a three-fifths vote for approval, received support from 71 percent of voters at the polls. The vote was 4,109-1,557.

There were 5,793 ballots cast in the election. Salem has 19,406 registered voters, including more than 400 who registered since the deliberative session Feb. 1.

The renovations will be funded through three bonds totaling $63.9 million. The project includes construction of a new Career and Technical Education Center through a $10.7 million state grant.

The school was built in the mid-1960s.

Voters also overwhelmingly supported five school employee contracts, four of which call for raises of between 1.25 and 1.5 percent.

The fifth contract, for 345 teachers and school nurses, does not call for a pay scale increase for 2014-2015.

Residents also approved a $62.5 million operating budget, 4,262-1,197. The default budget was $63.5 million.

School Board member Bernard Campbell was re-elected to a three-year term and Lucille Ramsey was elected to a two-year term as treasurer. Both ran uncontested.

Many residents at the polls said the main reason they came to vote was to support the school project — Article 2.

None of the 10 residents interviewed opposed the project. Some held black-and-yelllow signs, saying “Vote Yes on 2.”

“The high school is in dire need of renovations,” said Curtis Killon, 52.

Killon stood outside Rockingham Park, the District 1 polling place, holding sign asking voters to back the school articles.

The former racetrack was used for voting because of extensive renovations at Fisk School, the usual location. Voters also cast ballots at the Ingram Senior Center, Lancaster School and North Salem School.

Some voters with young children were looking toward the future, including Jean Spence, 45. She has a 6-year-old son,

“My son is going to go there someday,” Spence said. “We really need it for the town.”

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