HAVERHILL — With the state promising to pay most of the construction cost, Haverhill is embarking on a study to determine whether to build a new Consentino School or renovate the existing building.

Students in the Mount Washington neighborhood are one step closer to a better school now that the City Council has approved spending money for a study necessary to move forward with the Massachusetts School Building Authority's process.

The City Council last week voted to spend $750,000 to hire a consultant who will determine if a new school should be built or the current campus housing students in grades five through eight should be renovated.

"This next step is critical to ensure we build a school that meets the needs of the entire community — students, staff, families and the city," Assistant Superintendent Michael Pfifferling said. "It is exciting to get to this step as we begin transforming Consentino into a 21st century learning environment."

The money — $150,000 for a project manager, $425,000 for a designer, $150,000 for environmental and site testing and $25,000 in miscellaneous costs — is reimbursable by the state School Building Authority, Pfifferling said.

As with other parts of the Consentino project, the state has agreed to reimburse Haverhill 76% of all money invested, according to Pfifferling.

A committee to oversee the upcoming renovations includes Consentino Principal John Mele, Superintendent Margaret Marotta, School Committee member Scott Wood and Facilities Director Heather Forgione, among others.

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