EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

January 1, 2013

Salem considers school renovations this week

SALEM, N.H. — Less than 48 years after ringing in 2013, the Budget Committee will take a look Thursday at warrant articles calling for the renovation of the Fisk, Soule and Haigh elementary schools.

Superintendent Michael Delahanty and School Board representatives will outline the proposals for the committee.

Residents will weigh in on the school renovation plans and other warrant articles at a public hearing Jan. 10. A School Board public hearing on the $17 million renovation bond is slated for Jan. 15.

Voters will be asked to spend $8.5 million to upgrade Fisk School and $7.3 million on Soule School, according to School Board member Peter Morgan.

The board decided to hold off on the full $5.5 million renovation of Haigh School after considering the possibility of closing the school in the wake of declining enrollment in the district.

More than two dozen parents asked the board to keep Haigh open at a public forum this fall, saying closing the school would be a tremendous loss to the community.

Last year, voters rejected a $21.5 million bond to renovate the three elementary schools — only months after the district spent roughly the same amount of money on improvements to its three other elementary schools.

Delahanty has said the district would save about $895,000 if it closed Haigh and didn’t proceed with the $5.5 million renovation plan. Instead, the School Board proposes spending no more than $1.2 million to upgrade the approximately 60-year-old building.

Only modest upgrades are planned to keep the building in operation. The board considered selling or renting the property, but will continue to maintain it as a school in the immediate future.

There are currently 4,061 students attending the district's eight schools. But district enrollment is expected to drop to 2,931 by 2021-2022, according to Delahanty.

While Article 2 proposes spending $369,682 to improve Haigh, Article 3 calls for $805,238 in work to the school.

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