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July 14, 2013

Salem projects receive $17M boost

School upgrades, new liquor store in state capital budget


More funding for Salem’s schools is an added bonus, McBride said, since the district is faced with the need to upgrade its 26-year-old CTE program and aging high school building.

School Superintendent Michael Delahanty is pleased as well.

“We are grateful to get the money,” he said.

The school upgrades include nearly $900,000 for kindergarten space at Fisk and Soule schools. They are two of three elementary schools to be renovated over the next year through a $16.2 million bond approved by voters in March.

Receiving state funding for a 1,200-square-foot kindergarten classroom at both Fisk and Soule will please taxpayers, Delahanty said.

“It will save tens of thousands of dollars in interest over the 20-year bond,” he said.

Renovation of the CTE center would be its first major upgrade since its construction in 1987, Delahanty said. A lot of the equipment and space, including labs, are outdated, he said.

“The programs need updating,” he said. “There have been advancements in the industries and the spaces that have to reflect industry standards.”

The center offers 13 career programs for students from Salem, Windham, Pelham and the Timberlane Regional School District.

Those programs include automotive technology, biotechnology, culinary arts, and health and science technology. A cosmetology program is being added because it’s an increasingly popular career field, Delahanty said.

Although the state appropriated $10.7 million for the center, Delahanty and CTE director Christopher Dodge said more money will be needed. But they aren’t sure how much more.

That’s partly because the 53,000-square-foot center’s renovation would be tied to plans to upgrade the high school, a three-year project, Delahanty said.

“The renovation of the center can’t be done in isolation,” he said.

Both proposals are expected to go before voters in March, Delahanty said.

“Both facilities are in desperate need,” Dodge said. “(The center) doesn’t support 21st century education.”

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