SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

September 27, 2013

Mayor: State to approve new middle school

BEVERLY — Hopes for a new middle school are about to become a reality, according to city and school officials.

Mayor Bill Scanlon and interim Superintendent Al Argenziano announced yesterday that the Massachusetts School Building Authority will vote next week to approve the city’s application for a new middle school.

Scanlon said MSBA officials became convinced of the need for a new school when they visited the deteriorating Briscoe Middle School last week.

“We’ve told them a story; they came out and looked and said, ‘You’re right,’” Scanlon said.

The city submitted a statement of interest to the MSBA in March seeking funding for a new school. The agency’s board of directors is scheduled to vote on the statement at its meeting in Boston on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the MSBA could not be reached for comment. Scanlon said he is “very confident” that the board will vote in Beverly’s favor.

The new school will be built at the site of the Memorial Building, a former middle school at 502 Cabot St. that closed in 2005 when the city moved all of its middle school students into the larger Briscoe building.

Scanlon said a feasibility study will determine whether the Memorial Building, which was built in 1954, will be knocked down and replaced with an entirely new building, or whether it will be updated and enlarged.

The city has estimated the cost of a new school at $73 million, with the city paying $33 million and the state paying $40 million. Scanlon said the exact cost and share percentage will be determined as the process goes along.

Officials are targeting September 2017 for opening the new school.

In its statement of interest to the MSBA, the city said Briscoe Middle School, which was built in 1923, has an outdated electrical system, an inoperative ventilation system, windows that do not open and no hot water in the restrooms.

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