By Bruce Amaro
---- — There’s no heavy equipment digging into the ground yet, but behind the scenes Haverhill is making progress toward a new school in Bradford, education officials said.
This week, the project manager for the new school met with the city’s School Building Committee to begin developing a timeline. They are also working toward hiring a designer for the building, which is expected house 1,000 students from kindergarten to grade eight.
“We want to begin to find a designer to begin the design phase of the project by this summer,” said Jeffery Luxenberg of Joslin Lesser and Associates of Watertown, the project manager firm hired by the city.
Superintendent James Scully has said it should take about two years from the time the design plans are completed for the school to be built.
The process is lengthy and involved because the state requires a variety of steps for the city to qualify for state money. The steps require hiring a professional building consultant familiar with the details of constructing a new school. Detailed plans must be approved by the state.
Haverhill needs a new school in Bradford to replace Hunking School, which is deteriorating. Last summer, the Hunking’s decaying foundation received repairs that officials said will allow the building to remain open for another three years or so.
In October 2011, the city had to move about 150 students out of one wing of the Hunking due to fears that part of the building would collapse. The students have returned since last summer’s repairs, but eventually a new school will be needed.
While the current Hunking houses 418 students in grades six through eight, Scully wants a building that will hold up to 1,000 students. He wants to build the structure with an eye toward future growth without added expense.
“I would respectfully suggest that you review all of the numbers and facts relevant to this issue, for the mistakes that were made in the past in Haverhill should not be repeated. This is not just my issue, but is of grave conern to many parents that have met with me since the Hunking issue first surfaced in October, 2011,” Scully said in a letter to the state as he called for a new school.
Last year, Haverhill concluded a feasibility study into the need for a new school, and submitted that to the state to begin the process of seeking state construction money.
The new school will resolve a number of problems the city faces as it houses a growing diversified student population.
In June 2012, Scully’s submited enrollment data to the state, which recommended a school that would house 900 students. Scully wants a larger school.