EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 1, 2013

More than $5M in school renovations proposed

By Alex Lippa

---- — HAMPSTEAD — Extensive renovations being considered to Hampstead Central School could appear on the warrant at Town Meeting in March.

The Hampstead School Board has unveiled conceptual plans for a $4.9 million renovation project for the elementary school.

Assistant Superintendent Roxanne Wilson said the major purpose of the project is to eliminate the use of portable classrooms at Hampstead Central School.

“They have outlasted their use,” Wilson said. “It’s just not convenient to send those kids outside during winter, going back and forth. It’s not conducive for learning.”

Instead, the district is proposing 15,500 square feet of new space and 10,500 square feet of renovated space for the students using the six portable classrooms. The classrooms are used for music and special education.

Some classrooms would also see some improvement under the project. The kindergarten classrooms would be expanded to meet a state standard.

“They are supposed to be 1,000 square feet,” Wilson said. “So we will be looking to increase them a little.”

There would also be a hallway added to connect the two parts of the building and a facilities space

The design was presented to the School Board last week by Breadloaf Architects. The School Board still has to approve the plans, and a public hearing needs to be held before it appears on the Town Meeting warrant.

“It’s still very premature,” School Board member Jim Stewart said. “We still could change the size, the cost and much more before it goes to the voters.”

Wilson said there have also been discussions about adding an elevator, installing a building-wide sprinkler system and improving some of the bathrooms in conjunction with the renovations.

“Anytime you do renovations, it’s good to see what are some of the other things that can be done at the same time,” Wilson said. “That way you don’t have to do it at another time.”

While Central School would be getting major renovations, work is also being considered at Hampstead Middle School as well.

“We want to re-do the front entrance way,” Wilson said. “We want it to be more noticeable from the front and inviting.”

Wilson said the middle school renovations are estimated at $816,555.

If the renovations are approved at Town Meeting in March, construction would begin almost immediately. Wilson estimated the work at the middle school could be done by the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

The Central School renovations would take longer.

“We are looking at a full calendar year of work, depending on what alternatives we decide to go with,” Wilson said.