To the editor:
I realize the Hunking School needs to be replaced. What I do take issue with is the excessive cost.
It is obvious that Superintendent Scully, the Haverhill School Committee and the Hunking School Building Committee are not being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of Haverhill.
The replacement of the Hunking School is very similar to the replacement of the Bresnahan School in Newburyport, though the Bresnahan is a little smaller. Both projects involve demolishing a school, building a new one and building sports fields and playgrounds where the old schools stood.
The big difference is cost. The new Bresnahan is 112,000 square feet at a cost of $32 million dollars, which equates to $285.71 per square foot. The new Hunking will be 145,000 square feet at a cost of $62 million, which equals $413.51 per square foot — $127.80 per square foot, or 44 percent, more.
Newburyport went to the state and is using a model school design, saving several million dollars in design costs. Superintendent Scully didn’t bother to consult with the state and ran out and hired an architect.
Why is the new Hunking School projected to cost $127.80 more per square foot than the Bresnahan School, whose costs are close to the state average for a grammar school?
I believe it is time for the mayor to step in and put the brakes on this project until cost per square foot can be brought under control and closer to the state average. If cost per square foot was at the state average the total cost would be about $42.3 million dollars, a savings of almost $20 million dollars. I believe the taxpayers of Haverhill deserve these savings.
Yes, we need to replace the Hunking School but not at this outrageous cost. We need a school that is well built and functional, not a Taj Mahal. I cannot support the override for this excessive project at this cost nor should any taxpayer in Haverhill until they come back with a reasonable design and cost.