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Area school repair projects get boost from state board

Plans by Swampscott and Woburn to replace or overhaul aging elementary schools were recently advanced by the state funding agency.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority board voted to help fund a feasibility study into the facility needs of Swampscott’s Hadley Elementary School, and at its same meeting last month accepted Wyman Elementary School  in Woburn into its eligibility period, the initial phase in the agency’s funding pipeline. The vote begins a 270-day period during which the district must meet preliminary requirements to become eligible for the feasibility study phase.

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The board also committed to partial reimbursement of roof and window projects in Lynn and the Hamilton-Wenham Regional district under its accelerated repair program.

The authority agreed to reimburse Lynn for $1.67 million of the $2.18 million cost of window replacements at Breed Middle School, and $3.53 million of the $4.82 million cost to replace the roof at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute.  

The City Council must authorize funding the balance for Lynn to receive the state money, according to the school district’s superintendent, Catherine Latham. Councilors previously voted their support for the project.

“The Lynn Tech roof is in a terrible state of disrepair — it leaks — and the windows at Breed need to be done,” Latham said. “We are absolutely thrilled to get two projects like this included; it is quite a gift to the city.”

Swampscott became eligible for state reimbursement for its feasibility study when Special Town Meeting on Oct. 15 appropriated $500,000 to fund the study and the preparation of a schematic design.

‘Everyone is pleased. Whether weget 41, 43, or 44 percent, it’s allmoney back to the towns, re-ducing the cost of replacing theroof.’

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The building authority has now committed to providing an estimated 45 percent reimbursement, according to Joseph Crimmins, chairman of the town’s School Building Committee.

Crimmins said the feasibility study will look at all options, including building a new school or renovating the existing school.

“The study was something the town would need to undertake regardless of whether it participated in the state program, because it will provide detailed information that will enable us to decide what options we want and can afford,” he said.

Built in 1911, the kindergarten-through-fourth-grade Hadley School , on Redington Street, has outmoded heating, plumbing, and electrical systems, and the building does not provide adequate access to people with disabilities, Crimmins said, and also lacks up-to-date technology.

Woburn Superintendent Mark Donovan said the city welcomes the opportunity to pursue a project for Wyman Elementary, a school on Main Street with students in kindergarten through Grade 5.

“A small number of districts were invited into this and we were very pleased to be among them,” he said.

Donovan said the district is seeking a building project that would allow for the combining of the Wyman and Hurld  elementary schools in one new or refurbished building, continuing its multiyear program of consolidations.

While the Wyman building is in poorer shape, both buildings have similar issues, including outmoded electrical and mechanical systems, inadequate accessibility for those with physical disabilities, and a need for more space.

Donovan said as a first step in the process, he will be working with Mayor Scott D. Galvin to assemble a school building committee to oversee the project.

The building authority agreed to provide the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District with $281,112 for its project to replace the roof at the Cutler Elementary School in south Hamilton. 

The funding would cover 41.5 percent of the $676,793 the state agency set as the total cost of the repair project.

In the Nov. 6 election, Hamilton and Wenham voters approved Proposition 2½ debt-exclusion tax increases for the roof replacement, based on a project cost of $575,000 and an estimated state reimbursement rate of 43.4 percent.  

William R. Dery, a member of the regional district’s school board and chairman of its School Building Committee, said the building authority approved a higher cost figure for the project because it included features that the district believes are “nice to have but not cost-efficient.”

Dery said the district plans to go with its lower $575,000 figure — even though it will mean less reimbursement — to save money.

“Everyone is pleased,” he said of the funding award. “Whether we get 41, 43, or 44 percent, it’s all money back to the towns, reducing the cost of replacing the roof. I think most people take this as a good opportunity for maintenance to be done.”

The Cutler work and a separate project to replace the roof on Winthrop Elementary School, also in south Hamilton, are both scheduled to take place once classes are over in June.

The district applied but did not receive state funding for the Winthrop School project.

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.
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