Replacement Consentino School to Cost About $155 Million—Less Than Renovation Expense

Two-story option for replacement Dr. Albert B. Consentino School. (Courtesy of Dore & Whittier Architects.)

Haverhill residents got a preview of plans for a new Dr. Albert B. Consentino School at last Thursday’s School Committee meeting.

Don Walter, an architect for Dore and Whittier Architects of Newburyport, which is developing designs for the new building, said his group has been working with the school administration since last summer exploring options. They began with 19 different options, but narrowed it down to 11.

“We’ve been narrowing those options down with the school administration, with staff. We’ve been looking at three different populations, 715 students, 985 students and 1,080 students and we seem to be focusing down on the 1,080 student population because it seems to be the most cost effective,” he explained.

Walter said he expects to have the final design plan by the end of the month, at which time it will be submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

Walter presented artist renderings of the three top options. The first would include four stories and would cost about $154.5 million. Option two would only be two stories and would provide more outdoor space and natural lighting in the building. That option would cost about $157.4 million. The third option would be three stories and would cost approximately $158.3 million.

Walter said once the final design is approved by the city and the School Building Authority, the project will be put out to bid in the Spring of 2024.

“We then allow construction to start and would probably see anywhere from an 18- to 24-month construction period, depending on the option that is selected,” he said.

Walter explained his group will continue working with the school administration during the entire construction process, monitoring costs and making suggestions. He noted that because the price for materials is almost certain to increase, his cost projections have already factored in a 4.5% annual increase.

While the amount to build the new school is significant, Committee Member Richard J. Rosa pointed out those figures are a bargain compared to the estimated $178 million price tag for renovating the existing school.

Officials explained renovation brings added costs because the existing structure must be retrofitted to meet newer building codes and projects must be phased around classes and other school activities. Walter backed Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s claim that the 1969-era school has been well maintained, but isn’t large enough and doesn’t meet modern requirements.

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