SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

January 17, 2014

A school with a view

Public invited to see Collins renovations

SALEM — It’s got new air conditioning, hurricane-resistant windows, a beefed-up security system and a view of the sea — but if it sounds like an exclusive getaway, think again.

It’s the Collins Middle School after $37.2 million in renovations.

Actually, the ocean view from the fourth floor was there all along, but now it’s easier to take in because the windows at the school on Highland Avenue have all been changed or repaired as part of the renovations, which were unveiled this week.

“I wouldn’t be able to say enough about the windows,” said Principal Mary Manning.

“Daylight’s now back in our building,” said Darlene Melis, chairwoman of the School Building Committee.

Before, the windows were almost entirely covered by opaque insulation panels, leaving the outside world visible only through an 18-inch band at their bottoms. New windows have been installed in the original portions of the school, built in 1909 and 1927, while windows in the 1992 addition have been repaired.

For the first time, each classroom has a window with operable sashes, and they’re all capable of withstanding 100 mph winds, as is required under the building code because of the site’s proximity to the sea, said district facilities director Paul L’Heureux.

Much of the renovation focused on the school’s “envelope.” The leaky roof was completely replaced, the building’s exterior was rehabbed, and walls were repaired. New flooring was installed, with classrooms and the School Committee chamber getting linoleum, and other locations like the Little Theater and auditorium getting carpet.

Another recipient of new carpeting was the library, where media specialist Joanne O’Keefe said she was happy to return after construction forced the center to relocate to two classrooms for months.

“Temporary digs were a bit tight,” she said. “It’s wonderful to be back.”

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