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July 25, 2013

Architect: Hunking site OK for new school

School chief favors K-8 building for 1,005 students

HAVERHILL — A preliminary study by the firm chosen to design a replacement for Hunking Middle School shows the new school could be built on the current site or nearby playing fields.

As a result of the study by JCJ Architecture, Superintendent James Scully is recommending two options for the new school:

That a portion of the existing building be renovated and an addition built onto it.

That Hunking be demolished and a new school built on nearby athletic fields. Cost estimates for either option are not yet available.

Scully said state and city officials agree the recently repaired wing of the deteriorated school can’t be saved, but that the other side of the building, including the gymnasium, is potentially salvageable.

In late 2011, the city closed part of the school and moved about 150 students to another building due to structural problems in the foundation that threatened to collapse part of Hunking, school officials said. Repairs have since been made, but the building is expected to be usable for only four more years.

The structural problems are believed to be related to the fact the building was built in the 1950s on filled wetlands, which led many to believe the current site might not be appropriate for a new or renovated building. The new engineering analysis appears to put those concerns to rest.

In a letter to the School Committee, Scully said engineers are studying the results of test pits dug on the Hunking property and that the results will “further guide our efforts to identify what the School Building Authority refers to as the ‘preferred option,’ which will come from the approved alternatives.”

School Committee President Paul Magliocchetti said he is not surprised by the recommendations because school and city officials made it clear they wanted to see options for replacing the school “that address the best interests of students with an eye on cost.”

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