SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

September 10, 2013

State officials to visit Beverly's Briscoe Middle School

City seeking state funds for new school building

BEVERLY — The city’s quest to build a new middle school will take another step forward when state officials visit Beverly next week.

Mayor Bill Scanlon said officials from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the agency that determines funding for school building projects, are scheduled to visit Briscoe Middle School on Sept. 18.

Scanlon called the meeting a “key step” in the city’s efforts to win state funding for a new school.

“I see it as a very good sign,” he said.

The city filed a “statement of interest” with the MSBA in March, saying a new school is needed to replace Briscoe, the current middle school on Sohier Road that was built in 1923.

The city said Briscoe’s electrical system does not meet current code, the ventilation system doesn’t work, most of the windows do not open, and there is no hot water in the restrooms. The building also has asbestos, although that is “not an issue” as long as the material is contained, the statement said.

City and school officials also cited “severe overcrowding” as a reason for a new middle school. They said the school is using every available space and that teachers and administrators must hold meetings in hallways and the cafeteria. Many special education classes are held in spaces once used as closets and storage areas, they said.

The city wants to build a new middle school at the site of the Memorial Building, a former middle school on Cabot Street. The new school would include grades 5 through 8, helping to free up space in the elementary schools, which officials say are also overcrowded.

The cost of the new school has not been determined but has been estimated at $40 million. City and school officials hope to open a new school by September 2017.

Scanlon said MSBA officials want to get a firsthand look at Briscoe and see if it matches with the city’s description.

“I believe it will,” he said.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

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