EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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July 26, 2013

Haverhill targets Hunking site for new school

HAVERHILL — The new Hunking School will cost between $25 and $50 million, is likely to include multiple levels and should be built in place of or next to the existing building, the architects for the project told the School Committee last night.

The cost of the new building is contingent on the number of grades it will be built to accommodate, which the School Committee is expected to decide next month, Superintendent James Scully said.

Scully favors the largest option: A kindergarten to grade eight school that would accommodate around 1,000 students. That option would allow the city to close the outdated and deteriorated Greenleaf School and relieve overcrowding at Bradford Elementary. Other options include keeping the new building as a middle school or converting it to an elementary school.

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

Stephen Armington of JCJ Architecture told the School Committee that engineering tests show the entire Hunking property is suitable for a new school, despite concerns that have persisted for years that Hunking was built on wetlands that contributed to its premature deterioration. Armington said it’s his opinion the school’s design was so poor that rain water seeped in from the sides of the building rather than ground water from underneath.

As for the location of the new school, officials are deciding between two options: Renovating portions of the existing building and adding onto it, or demolishing the structure and building a new school on nearby playing fields.

These options would also allow Hunking students to remain on site during a phased construction project, officials said.

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