SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 5, 2013

School to seek state money

2nd phase of renovations at Salem High would include athletic facilities, arts wing

By Bethany Bray
STAFF WRITER

---- — SALEM — The city is taking a first step toward another renovation project at Salem High School.

The School Committee and City Council have voted to submit a “statement of interest” to the Massachusetts School Building Authority for a second phase of renovations — rehabbing the athletic facilities and arts wing — at SHS.

If phase two came to fruition, renovations would pick up where a $60 million renovation project left off in 2008.

The statement of interest is a preliminary step in the complex process to receive state reimbursement for school renovation costs. It could be years before any work would begin.

Submitting a statement of interest does not commit or tie the city to any renovation plan or design.

The statement of interest was approved by the School Committee with a 6-0 vote on March 11.

Last night, the City Council voted 8-0 to approve the statement of interest. Councilors Joseph O’Keefe, Thomas Furey and Michael Sosnowski were absent.

In 2008, the estimated cost for phase two at SHS was $35 million to $40 million, said Paul L’Heureux, director of facilities for the Salem Public Schools. It remains to be seen how much that figure has changed in five years.

Salem’s current state reimbursement rate for school projects is 78.2 percent. However, L’Heureux said the city will petition the MSBA for a 90 percent reimbursement rate for phase two at SHS, because that’s what Salem received for the first phase of renovations.

“We have a track record with the MSBA of spending our money wisely,” L’Heureux said to councilors last night.

As proposed, phase two would refurbish SHS athletic fields and install synthetic turf; resurface and upgrade the tennis courts, exterior and interior basketball courts; renovate the auditorium, including replacing lighting, seating and sound systems; renovate ceilings, floors, painting and trim; and renovate and upgrade utilities, including electrical, fire sprinklers, fire alarms, heating and air-conditioning systems, and plumbing.

L’Heureux and SHS Principal David Angeramo came to last night’s council meeting to present details and answer questions about the project. The board approved the statement of interest with little discussion.

Salem High School underwent a $67.3 million renovation between the spring of 2006 and the fall of 2008.

The school was kept open while extensive improvements were made — including an entire exterior renovation of the school — walls, windows, roof, walkways, landscaping — as well as renovations to all 85 classrooms in the academic wing. There are five new computer labs with Smart Boards and new science labs, locker rooms, hallways, classroom furniture, lockers and lighting, as well as field house renovations.

Salem High School, at 77 Willson St., opened in 1976.

Bethany Bray can be reached at bbray@salemnews.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.