SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 11, 2013

Beverly cites ‘severe overcrowding’ as impetus for new middle school

(Continued)

“That reputation catches up with you,” Decker said. “You’re doing cutting-edge things. I love that people are choosing the Beverly schools, but at the same time we’re so in need for a new middle school in order to house all of our children up and down the spectrum.”

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 replace the current middle school at Briscoe, which was built in 1923.

The new school would include grades 5 through 8, which officials say would free up space in the elementary schools. Fifth-graders are now in the elementary schools and Briscoe has grades 6 through 8.

The cost of the new school has not been determined but has been estimated at $40 million. Officials have set a opening date of September of 2017.

State Treasurer Steven Grossman, who oversees the School Building Authority, is scheduled to visit Beverly Tuesday to look at the schools.

A spokesman for the MSBA said the agency does not have a specific standard for what constitutes severe overcrowding.

“We would look at the numbers in the overall context of the school as it’s described in the statement of interest,” spokesman Dan Collins said.

Decker said the city was asked by the MSBA to resubmit its statement of interest this year because the city was not ready to pay for a feasibility study. She said MSBA officials have acknowledged that the city needs a new middle school.

“It’s really about timing, when the community is ready to put the money forward,” she said. “We’re ready to do that this spring.”

Mayor Bill Scanlon said the fact that the district is renting classroom space justifies the “severe overcrowding” description in the city’s request for state funding.

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