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Peabody Center School to get new windows

PEABODY – Center School students will soon see better days through new windows after School Committee members last week approved Mayor Michael Bonfanti’s motion to replace the old, leaking windows sooner, rather than later.By using $600,000 from the sale of the Brown School, Bonfanti said the city could replace each and every window, which he said currently “look like they’re about to fall out.”The money was originally designated for repairs to the Higgins Middle School, but would barely make a dent in the Higgins’ long list of repairs.”I think we’d get the best bang for our buck,” said Bonfanti, listing improving safety, aesthetics, and reducing energy costs as benefits.It was a difficult decision for Committee members, as both the Higgins and the Center are in desperate need of extensive renovations from lighting to new roofs. In fact, the city applied for a Statement of Interest (SOI) grant from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for both schools. When the MSBA later asked Peabody to prioritize the two, they chose the Higgins because of its size and higher cost of repairs. Both schools are currently put on hold, which means they have been neither rejected nor accepted, said Superintendent Milton Burnett.Regardless, Bonfanti and Burnett feel confident that the Higgins, the largest middle school in the state, will be chosen out of the 422 others on the list to receive a grant. They believe the Center School, in all practicality, will receive aid in years to come. With that mindset, and the extra money, they feel its best to use it while they can.”We’ll get the best price now because contractors are looking for work,” said Burnett. “If we wait until summer, we’re not going to receive it for that price.”But Committee members Mark Bartkiewicz and Anne Manning weren’t on board and voted against the proposal.”This is a huge decision,” said Manning, suggesting that members give it some thought. “I want to save money on a bid, but that’s not the reason to make that decision.”Bartkiewicz would rather wait to see the outcome of the Higgins SOI request before the city begins moving money around. However, no one really knows exactly just how long the city would have to wait.”Schools need some help,” said School Committee member Dave McGeney. “We have the $600,000, so let’s spend it. Don’t sit on it, debating who needs it most.”The city is currently taking bids for the project to ensure a mid-March installation. The proposed plan would involve moving students from one classroom to another vacant classroom while the windows are replaced. No interruption to their education would occur.

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