SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

September 27, 2013

Mayor: State to approve new middle school

(Continued)

The statement said the building is severely overcrowded, forcing special education classes to be held in former closets and teachers and administrators to hold meetings in hallways and the cafeteria. The school has 944 students.

Officials say the Memorial site is a better location for a new school because it has 17 acres, as opposed to six acres at Briscoe. Scanlon said the Briscoe building would likely be sold by the city after the new school is built.

The new middle school would be reconfigured to include grades five through eight, with fifth- and sixth-graders in one house and seventh- and eighth-graders in another house.

Fifth-graders are now in the city’s five elementary schools. Moving them to the middle school would open up more room in the those schools, which are also crowded, officials said.

Officials are also hoping to convert McKeown School, which closed as an elementary school in 2008, into an early childhood center for prekindergarten classes. The district currently holds four pre-K classes at the Memorial Building and four at North Shore Education Consortium on Sohier Road.

New uses for the Memorial Building and McKeown School would force the relocation of classes and offices now located there. The Memorial Building includes school and city offices, as well as North Shore Recovery High School. The McKeown School houses North Shore Education Consortium classes.

The city would lose about $600,000 in annual lease income, but School Committee President Maria Decker said the extra space would allow the district to keep more special education students in Beverly and cut down on expensive out-of-district tuitions.

Scanlon said the city can afford a new school because the loans for many of the elementary school renovations done from 1996 to 2003 are being paid off.

The city is currently paying $2.2 million per year in debt service for the new high school, which opened in 2010.

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