EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 26, 2013

Old building readies for new assignment

Lawrence has $500K plan for Henry K. Oliver School improvements


“I think the renovations that will be done this year will be the end of the refurbishing of the site. But I’m very pleased that the superintendent/receiver is going in and putting money into that school – something that hasn’t been done in years,” he said.

The Oliver School building improvements are the latest in a series of projects that Riley has embarked upon since he made catching up on building repairs and maintenance as a top priority early last year, soon after he began his state-appointed task of overseeing the turnaround of Lawrence Public Schools

Members of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in late 2011 declared Lawrence a “Level 5” school district, the state’s designation for a “chronically underperforming school district.” Riley is in his 15th month of a 3 1/2-year contract of running the state’s most-troubled school system. He expects it could take up to seven years to accomplish his mission of improving the school district enough to return it to local governance.

“Better buildings have been a priority of mine since coming to Lawrence – I believe we’ve completed roughly 60 facility improvement projects at this point – and we want to keep that progress going,” Riley said.

“To that end, we’ll be making a host of important improvements at the 183 Haverhill St. building this summer, with an anticipated cost of approximately $500,000. Altogether, these upgrades should make coming to school a better experience for kids and teachers in the new Oliver Partnership School next September,” he said.

The Oliver School is in the early stages of its own turnaround, since the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education downgraded it last fall to “Level 4” – a designation for the state’s 43 poorest academically-performing schools. The Oliver became the city’s sixth “Level 4” school.

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