EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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March 11, 2013

Salem voters consider casino, school renovations

Some $17M in school renovations also on ballot tomorrow


That vote came a year after residents agreed to spend approximately the same amount of money renovating the district’s three other elementary schools, upsetting many parents.

The School Board and Superintendent Michael Delahanty said it’s essential that residents support the renovations this year. Once those three schools are upgraded, the district intends to seek approval to renovate Woodbury and Salem High schools.

Last week, residents were offered tours of the six elementary schools to compare the newly renovated Barron, Lancaster and North Salem schools with the other three.

The renovations are requested in two warrant articles. One calls for a $16.2 million bond to upgrade Fisk, Soule and Haigh; the other seeks an additional $805,237 in improvements for Haigh.

The School Board has considered closing Haigh in the wake of declining student enrollment. The board decided to hold off on a full $5.5 million renovation of that school.

The 20-year bond would only fund $369,682 in work at Haigh in case it closes. The $805,237 would be spent to continue maintaining it as a school. At least 60 percent of voters must support the $16.2 million bond for approval.

Voters also will be asked tomorrow to approve a $37.5 million town operating budget and to spend $5.6 million on road work, and $1.1 million to replace the Bluff Street and Providence Hill Road bridges.

Other warrant articles seek $354,708 for three trucks, $250,000 for snow removal, $250,000 for an ambulance, and a proposal to sell the former Mary Foss School. Article 13 asks residents to spend $58,153 to support several social service agencies.

The proposed operating budget is $37.5 million. If defeated at the polls, a default budget of $36.9 million would be in effect.

On the school district ballot, voters will be asked to approve an operating budget of $62.2 million, a 1.4 percent increase. If defeated, a default budget of $62.4 million takes effect.

An article requests $72,232 to fund a one-year, 1.25 percent pay raise for the 188 members of the Salem Educational Support Personnel Association. The union represents school aides.

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