Hunking is expected to close in less than five years. The state has ordered the city to do a feasibility study for a new school. With the help of the Massachusetts School Building Authority that has agreed to pay up to 72 percent of the estimated $800,000 study, the city has begun planning the new school. The city is paying the balance of $250,000 for the study.
Haverhill is in line for state money to pay most of the cost of building the new school.
Scully said the main problem with Hunking, which was built in the late 1950s, was that it was constructed on wetlands.
In October 2011, the building was found to be unsafe and needed immediate structural repairs to guard against some classrooms collapsing. Eight classrooms in the north wing were in danger, officials said.
In February 2012, Scully received an estimate from Castagna Construction of Newburyport to repair the building for $349,300.
The repairs, done last summer, did not permanently solve the structural problems, but strengthened the building to make it usable for students for a few more years while the city builds a new school, Scully said.
In early 2012, teachers complained about illnesses and rashes they said they believed were caused by poor air quality at Hunking. At that time, an environmental expert told the city that the building has poor ventilation, but the air was still safe to breathe.