Tim Cahill said Beverly was in a difficult situation when it decided to go ahead with its plans in 2006. Facing the loss of accreditation due to the poor condition of its old school, which was built in 1965, the City Council had to approve the funding at a time when the state's school building program had been halted due to past overspending.
The school building authority eventually agreed to pay 58.4 percent of the $81 million project.
"It took a lot of courage for the mayor and local officials to step forward not knowing whether we'd come up with the funding," Cahill said. "It took a lot of guts."
Cahill said the project came in "under budget."
Cesa said the old high school was known as "the maze" due to its rambling layout, which includes four building wings, 11 floor levels and 84 doors. The easiest way to get from the office to the auditorium, she said, is to go outside, "no matter what the weather."
Cesa said the old school's roof leaks, its windows are cloudy, its lighting is inadequate, its public address system is faulty, and its heating system ranges "from tundra to rain forest."
"Our accreditation was hanging on by just a thread because of the building," she said. "It's a great day to be from Beverly."
Even though students are scheduled to move in Nov. 30, the project is not complete. The cafeteria and field house are still being renovated. The old academic wings will be demolished next year and replaced mostly by parking.
And Scanlon is still pursuing his goal of two artificial turf fields at the school. Those plans were scrapped when the state said it would no longer share the costs of playing fields, but Scanlon now wants to build them with a combination of a $500,000 state grant and private donations.