EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

March 14, 2014

Column: Haverhill's Hunking project is reasonable, cost-efficient

On Friday, March 7, The Eagle-Tribune published a letter regarding the proposed construction of a new Hunking School and comparing it with a project in Newburyport. (“Haverhill should follow Newburyport’s lead on new school,” Michael Lesiczka.)

It would be a disservice to the children and families Haverhill to allow the misrepresentations in that letter to stand uncorrected.

There’s one fact I won’t challenge: Haverhill needs a well-built and functional Hunking School at a reasonable cost. The structural engineers who inspected the Hunking all say it has to close in four years. The engineers refuse to certify the building’s safety beyond that point.

However, some claims made in that letter require a rebuttal.

Myth: “Superintendent Scully, the Haverhill School Committee and the Hunking School Building Committee are not being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers.”

Reality: The School Committee, council, mayor and I support this proposal because it is the most cost-effective and results in the smallest financial impact on the taxpayer of all the options studied. The cost to taxpayers for this project will not exceed what they have been paying in their property tax bills for the last bond the city took for school construction. For the owner of the average Haverhill home, that equals $67 a year, or $2.38 a week. Building this school saves taxpayers an $11 million bill to repair the Greenleaf School and hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for an undetermined length of time to bus Hunking students to other schools when the current building is declared unfit for use.

Myth: “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.”

Reality: The two schools have very little in common. The Hunking will serve kindergarten though eighth grade. The Bresnahan will serve pre-K through third grade. The Hunking School will seat 1,005 students, compared with roughly 715 for Bresnahan. The Hunking School will be 148,000 square feet, compared with Bresnahan’s 112,517.

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