All of Haverhill’s Consentino School Will be New, Whether Fixed or Replaced; Costs Above $125 Million

Haverhill's Dr. Albert B. Consentino School. (Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News.)

Whether it is renovated and expanded or replaced, every inch of the Dr. Albert B. Consentino School must be upgraded at a cost of at least twice its Caleb Dustin Hunking School cousin across the river.

Haverhill Facilities Director Stephen D. Dorrance delivered the message last Thursday to School Committee members during a review of the school’s existing conditions contained in a 116-page report by Newburyport-based Dore + Whittier. Dorrance began by summarizing the purpose of the report.

“We are going to make a bunch of decisions that are hugely impactful about the design of the school, what the finishes will be but, more importantly, cost. We are north of $125 million today and I think that number is going to creep,” he said.

Working with the Massachusetts School Building Authority, Haverhill is weighing the pros and cons of upgrading the 1969-era middle school versus replacing it altogether.

Dorrance said if the decision is to renovate the existing facility, ultimately every inch of the building will need to be upgraded. This is because, he explained, although the building is now code compliant, if renovation costs reach 30% of the assessed value, the building must comply with 2022 building codes.

He outlined some of areas required to be included in a renovation, such as a fire suppression system, heating system, bathroom fixtures and plumbing, new electric system throughout the building, the floors, the roof and even the walls of the building from the foundation up.

“We trip all of the seismic codes. That means the existing building has to be reinforced from the foundation up, all of it. So, this gets very, very difficult and complicated,” Dorrance explained.

The report also addressed expected disruption to students and teachers in terms of noise, a diminished amount of space and even health issues.

“Think about projects you’ve done at home. The mess. The dirt and, in our case, the mitigation of tile that has to be done. Mitigation means air quality samples and on and on and on,” he said.

Committee members thanked Dorrance for the report and agreed there was much to consider including educational equity throughout the city.

Dorrance’s slide presentation is here.

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