EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 3, 2013

Your view: Letters to the editor

Support next phase of school renovations

To the editor:

It’s been heartening the past few weeks to see and read all the tremendous support that the much-needed renovation project of our Salem schools has with many of our local residents. The current proposal is Phase 2 of the Facilities Master Plan, and encompasses the Soule, Fisk and Haigh kindergarten/elementary schools, which were not covered by last year’s Phase 1 ameliorations that corrected deficiencies in the Barron, Lancaster and North Salem schools. Residents have an important opportunity and even responsibility on Tuesday, March 12 to approve these long-overdue ameliorations, which will be Articles 2 and 3 on your ballots.

A piece of excellent news arrived on Monday with the announcement that the Salem school system will receive a total of $750,000 of state aid from Concord to be applied for these improvements if the proposal is voted in on March 12. This is an extremely welcome development and points up one of Gov. Maggie Hassan’s foremost promises during last year’s gubernatorial campaign to make New Hampshire’s students, at all levels, one of her priorities as governor. This grant will reduce town costs and help ensure that the September completion time line for the work on the three schools will be met. Salem parents and their school-age children can thank the citizen’s group Strengthen Our Schools (SOS) for their tireless work over the past several years in getting the word out in print and online regarding the importance of supporting these two public school projects.

Until the Phase 1 approval all of our six schools, in varying levels, were in a terrible state of disrepair as well as being basically outmoded. Major problems in the three remaining locations include the dearth of both suitable children car drop-off area and extracurricular activities space, as well as wholesale crowding due to hallways being used for storage locations. But most significantly, on the all-important safety issue the three schools have fallen out of code compliance, with many classrooms lacking fire alarms and sprinkler systems, and incredibly still containing asbestos in some areas. There is also the complete absence of building security systems, which have become extremely popular nationally since the Newtown tragedy.

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