By Bruce Amaro
---- — The new year will be the year of the new school in Haverhill.
When the calendar turns to 2013, the city will speed up its efforts to build a new school to replace Hunking Middle School in Bradford.
Superintendent James Scully stressed the project is just in the beginning stages. But, he said, the city must speed up the process to have the new school ready for when the Hunking can no longer be used.
The city made repairs to the deteriorated Hunking last summer to shore up structural problems. Those problems forced Haverhill to transfer 150 students from Hunking to another school in October 2011 until repairs could be made. The repairs are expected to keep Hunking useful for another four years, officials said. By then, the city hopes to open the new school.
Scully said it will take nearly two years from the start of construction until the school is built.
But the city has not yet begun a feasibility study required by the state, and that could take 12 to 15 months, Scully said.. The study will determine the location of the new school and features such as the number of classrooms. The city has budgeted $800,000 for that study and plans it for the coming year.
The city will have its project manager candidate selected in mid-January and hopes the candidate will receive approval during the Massachusetts School Board Authority’s review Feb. 4, Scully said. The state must approve if Haverhill is to get state money for the school. The city expects the state to pay about 70 percent of the construction cost.
The project, as Scully envisions it, will not simply replace the present structure with a new one. While the current Hunking houses 418 students in grades six through eight, Scully wants a school that will hold up to 1,000 students from kindergarten through the eighth grade. He wants to build the structure with an eye toward future growth.
Scully said the city must have the new school ready for occupancy in four years and preferably sooner. He said for that to happen, the city must pay strict attention to detail.
“It doesn’t take much to cause delays and problems in these projects,” he said. “But if they are started and managed well and correctly, they get done on time or sooner, and on or below the estimated cost.’’
The city plans to tear down the 50-year-old Hunking building when the new school opens.