SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 1, 2013

School boilers, window projects on for town meetings

BY Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — Several school projects will be taken up at Special Town Meetings in Hamilton and Wenham next week, including replacing boilers and windows.

The total cost of the projects is expected to be about $3.1 million, according to Hamilton-Wenham School Superintendent Michael Harvey. The projects require a two-thirds majority vote at the town meetings and a debt-exclusion override ballot vote.

Hamilton’s meeting will take place Monday at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium. Wenham’s is Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Buker Elementary School.

The first project is to replace Buker School’s heating system for about $930,000.

The second project is to replace the heating system and glass walls at Winthrop Elementary School for $2.2 million.

“The boilers are all early ’80s models,” Harvey said. “They roughly have a 30-year service life, so they are getting there.”

Harvey said the Massachusetts School Building Authority is expected to reimburse 43 percent of the projects, about $1.3 million. That puts the two towns on the hook for $1.8 million, he said.

The towns must vote on the entire price tag of the project at the town meetings. The projects are set for approval from the MSBA in January, Harvey said.

Part of the goal is to make the schools more energy-efficient. Buker School currently has both oil and gas burners, Harvey said.

“That is what we are looking for to lower our energy bills,” he said.

The single-pane glass walls at the Winthrop School were installed in 1959, and the metal is corroding, Harvey said.

The projects will make the school upgraded for about the next 30 years. The roofs at Winthrop and Cutler elementary schools were upgraded this summer. The $2 million project was approved at town meetings last fall.

If the project is approved at the town meetings, Hamilton residents will be asked to vote on a debt-exclusion override on Nov. 21 and Wenham on Dec. 12.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.