BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — The Horace Mann School can’t catch a break.
It’s the only one of the city’s schools that hasn’t been rebuilt or undergone a major renovation in recent years, largely because it is a complicated project. The city-run elementary school is on the grounds of Salem State University and, technically, is a state-owned building that is maintained by the state.
While the city’s eight other district schools have new or renovated buildings, Horace Mann has waited its turn on the sidelines.
This fall, the city sought proposals from architects or other consultants it hoped would lead to a possible solution for Horace Mann: a study to determine the feasibility of relocating the 325-student, K-5 school to another building on the Salem State campus.
The deadline for proposals, however, was Monday and nobody responded.
“We’re disappointed,” said Mayor Kim Driscoll, who has worked with Salem State President Patricia Meservey on a possible solution to the Horace Mann dilemma.
Driscoll said she has no idea why there were no responses, but said city officials will figure out the reasons and then decide on the next move, which could mean starting this process all over again.
For Horace Mann, it has been a long wait.
The school opened in 1896 on the campus of what was then the Salem State Normal School and moved to its current campus building on Loring Avenue in 1912. Thus, the school operates out of a 101-year-old building, the oldest of any public school in the city.
Officially known as the Horace Mann Laboratory School, it has a special relationship with Salem State as a teaching school for college students interested in careers in education.
However, the building has many limitations, notably the lack of a gym and auditorium, and a limited cafeteria.
The feasibility study would look at moving Horace Mann School to the Harrington building on the south campus of Salem State, and the issues involved with converting that to an elementary school. Built in 1963, the building was originally part of Ste. Chretienne Academy, an all-girl Catholic high school that closed in 1971.
The study is a first step, Driscoll said, in determining whether it is possible and practical to make that move. The city and university have not decided to relocate Horace Mann, she said, only to examine the issues and costs involved.
But, as a start, the city has to find a consultant willing to do the study.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Salem school construction Bates 2001 Renovation and addition Bentley 1992 Renovation and addition Carlton 2004 New building Horace Mann 1912 Moved into current building Nathaniel Bowditch 2001 New building Saltonstall 2013 Repair and modernization* Witchcraft 2003 Renovation and addition Collins 2013 Repair and modernization** Salem High 2009 Renovation * A major renovation and expansion of Saltonstall was completed in 1996. ** A major renovation and expansion of Collins Middle School was completed in 1994.