EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 11, 2014

Vote margin nearly 3-1 for new school

HAVERHILL — It was Hunking in a landslide.

Voters agreed to temporarily increase their property taxes yesterday to build a new, larger school to replace the deteriorating Hunking School. Their decision came by a margin of nearly three to one.

The proposed debt exclusion carried all 21 of the city’s voting precincts. The final tally was 4,807 in favor and 1,778 opposed — or 73 percent to 27 percent.

A total of 6,585 people cast ballots, about 16 percent of the city’s 41,500 registered voters.

Yesterday’s vote authorizes the city to increase taxes to pay Haverhill’s $21 million share of a $61.5 million building to replace the Hunking, which is in the city’s Bradford section. The state School Building Authority Board voted last week to contribute $40 million to the project — $3 million more than the city originally expected.

The new school is to be divided into an upper school for grades five to eight and a lower school for kindergarten to grade four, with a shared gymnasium, cafeteria, media center and administrative offices.

Mayor James Fiorentini said the debt exclusion will add about $71 per year for 20 years to the average property tax bill. But he said tax bills won’t increase because an old debt exclusion for two schools built many years ago will expire around the same time the city would start paying the new Hunking loan.

The new school for up to 1,005 students in kindergarten to grade eight is to be built next to the existing Hunking. Construction will begin in the spring and the new school will open two years later.

In approving the debt exclusion, Fiorentini said the city returned to its “long tradition of supporting new schools” after voters rejected the most recent debt exclusion to build a new high school in 2002. Prior to that, voters approved tax hikes to build four new schools in 1989 and the high school in the 1960s.

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