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October 18, 2013

Plan to replace Hunking School: How it all began ...

City's plan to replace crumbling Hunking School goes to state

HAVERHILL — The city’s effort to build a replacement for the deteriorated Hunking School is in the hands of the state.

Haverhill has submitted its choice of a design for the school and location to the Massachusetts School Building Authority, Superintendent James Scully said.

The building authority will decide whether to support the plan and make Haverhill eligible to receive construction money from the state.

Scully said the goal is to show taxpayers in Haverhill that the city is being fiscally responsible in its desire to create a building that will serve the community for the next 100 years and “for a much longer period of time than the current facility has.”

The plan, dubbed Option 4, calls for a school with room for 1,005 students in two classroom wings flanking a central area that features first-floor shared space for students and the community, including a cafeteria, gym, media center, stage and kitchen.

The building authority, a state agency which oversees school building projects and partial reimbursement of costs related to construction, will vote on what it calls the community’s Preferred Option.

The preliminary design was unveiled during a community meeting on Oct. 9 at Bradford Elementary School which about 80 parents and residents attended. Architect Jim LaPosta said the official design will be months in the making, and will result from numerous meetings with the MSBA, Haverhill school administrators, the public and a team of experts.

Residents asked questions about the building site, cost, payment method, maintenance plans and the anticipated fallout if voters don’t approve paying for the new school.

Scully and Mayor James Fiorentini stressed that the one thing that cannot be changed is the need to replace the Hunking.

“If I had a viable Plan B, I wouldn’t be going for a Plan A,” Fiorentini said. “There is no other choice.”

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