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With passage of high school project, Salem district ready to roll

Union Leader Correspondent

March 13. 2014 8:59PM

SALEM — Now that the extensive high school renovation project has gained the support of voters, the School Board and administrators can move forward with plans to get the project under way.

The project passed at the ballot on Tuesday by a margin of 4,109 to 1,557.

School Board Chairman Bernard Campbell said he appreciated the support and the hard work of all who worked to make the positive vote a reality.

“It is with a sense of awe and humble appreciation that the Salem School District, its staff and students extend their appreciation to the citizens of Salem for their overwhelming support of the district on Tuesday,” said School Board Chairman Bernard Campbell. “Not only did the proposed renovation to Salem High School pass with astounding support, the district’s budget and its collective bargaining agreements were shown strong support as well. It is incumbent now on the district and its officials to justify the confidence citizens have placed in them by implementing the plans as approved. The district is pledged to meet the challenge.”For over a year, the School Board and the administration have been putting the pieces in place in anticipation of approval for the project.

About $11 million for the renovation of the high school’s Career and Technical Education center will be paid for with state funds. The remainder of the project will be funded through a series of bonds.At the height of the bond issues, there will be a little more than $300 per year on the average homeowners property tax bill, according to Superintendent Michael Delahanty.Late last year, the School Board unanimously voted to hire the architectural firm of Lavalee Brensinger Associates of Manchester as the architect for the renovation project provided the project won voter approval. The firm designed the preliminary plans for the high school project.

The contract is for a lump sum of $3.74 million, or about 6.5 percent of the hard project costs, Delahanty said.

Delahanty said the anticipated hard costs of the project total about $58 million, with additional soft costs such as furniture, equipment and project management bringing the total cost of the project close to $75 million.

He noted that the cost is below the 7 percent of total project costs that the School Board had set as parameters for a contract.

With the major players in place, Campbell said there is much work to do with groundbreaking still a year away.

“Work now begins in earnest to turn the concept plans into a reality,” he said. “The complex task of creating the necessary construction detail drawings for the substantial project will begin right away, but, as noted in all public presentations, visible work on the site itself is likely at least 12 months away. The district is committed to providing ongoing updates of progress as we move into the construction phase.”

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