Council to Act on Plan to Replace Four School Roofs; Unlikely to Win All From State

A 2016 plan to replace the roof at Haverhill High School while adding solar panels was defeated by the Haverhill School Committee. (Courtesy photograph.)

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

With all eyes on school repairs and maintenance, Haverhill city councilors are prepared tonight to ask the state for help paying for roofs at four schools.

Councilors are expected to authorize Superintendent Margaret Marotta to seek emergency money to replace “leaking, defective and obsolete” roofs at Haverhill High, Golden Hill, Silver Hill and Moody Schools. Raised recently by School Committee member Richard J. Rosa, members of that body approved of the Statement of Interest last Thursday. Member Scott W. Wood Jr., quoting energy consultant Orlando Pacheco, told his colleagues it is unlikely the state will accept all of the schools at once.

“Maybe you get one. We’re going to submit four if you’re lucky. No guarantee you’re going to get one, but you’re definitely not going to get all four,” Wood said.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini raised the only objection. He expressed worry that the state would agree to all four and city would have trouble coming up with the money to pay its about one-third share of the cost. Rosa responded the city would be under no obligation to proceed with all four schools. He added, the city might even get more money from the state.

“Since we’re doing a better job now of identifying students that are economically disadvantaged, we might actually get a better rate than with Hunking,” said Rosa.

Fiorentini, saying the high school roof is a priority, voted only in favor of the that school last week. He abstained from supporting the others.

City Councilors Colin F. LePage and Timothy J. Jordan, both members of the city’s Joint Facilities Committee, which met just before the full School Committee, agreed to shepherd the approvals through the Council.

If approved by the City Council, the completed application is expected to be prepared by school Business Manager Brian O’Connell. It is due to the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s “Accelerated Repair Program” by Feb. 15.

In 2016, the School Committee narrowly defeated a proposal by Marlborough-based MassAmerican Energy to replace the high school roof as part of a plan to put solar panels on top of the building.