Scully to Update Council on 2nd Try for State Help to Renovate Consentino School

Councilors on Tuesday will hear the details of the city’s Statement of Interest to the state School Building Authority for help renovating or building an addition to the Consentino School at 685 Washington St.

The deadline to request the SBA’s help with the project is April 6. A positive vote by the City Council is required for the submission to go forward.

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

The City Council meets beginning at 7 p.m. in the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. City Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.

Superintendent James F. Scully plans to present details of the city’s plan to the council. This will be the second time Haverhill submits a request for financial assistance to renovate the Consentino School. Last year’s request did not receive the SBA’s support, and it did not move forward into consideration for funding.

In a letter to SBA Executive Director Jack McCarthy, Scully explained that the statement of interest regarding the Consentino project is just the first step in determining the futures of the trio of schools that serve the majority of Haverhill’s inner-city neighborhoods: the Consentino and Tilton Schools in the Mount Washington area and J.G. Whittier Middle School on the outskirts of the Acre neighborhood.

“This neighborhood poses a population challenge and some structural matters that need to be examined,” Scully wrote.

The study of Consentino’s structural and space needs and the subsequent investigation into Tilton and J.G. Whittier are likely to coincide with the development of a Master Plan that will look at how the city distributes its student populations.

Built in 1969 as a middle school, Consentino now serves first through eighth grades. Its science labs, computer labs and teacher workspaces have been repurposed as classroom or small group teaching spaces. The band room has been reallocated to cafeteria space, all but eliminating the band program.

The school houses roughly 1,000 students, with classrooms regularly exceeding 30 students. The primary reason for the renovation or addition is to alleviate severe crowding, according to the SOI.

The school’s electrical and mechanical infrastructure is original to the building, installed in 1969. As a result, Consentino students do not have equitable access to technology as compared with students in other areas of the city. The SOI refers to the school’s technological capacity as “woefully inadequate.”

In the winter of 2016, cold weather caused a pipe to burst in the ceiling above the school’s library, damaging its structure and ruining most of the books on the shelves. The flood occurred during February vacation; students were greeted with a banner announcing “Survived and Charging Forward” (pictured),  playing off the school’s nickname, the Chargers.

The statement of interest due on April 6 is limited in scope. If the SBA accepts Haverhill’s request to study the Consentino plan, it does not guarantee assistance, financial or otherwise.