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Middle school passing the test in Peabody

By ADAM SWIFT

PEABODY – It’s been almost nothing but sunshine since the new Higgins Middle School opened its doors to students this fall. But for the last few weeks, there’s been maybe a little bit too much of a good thing.

“We’re looking into the sunlight coming into the building,” said School Committee member Beverley Dunne at Tuesday night’s board meeting. “There was a little too much the other day.”

Dunne, who updated the board on  the remaining punch list items and issues at the new building, said that with the sun at its lowest point in the sky this time of the year, said some students were forced to wear sunglasses in the middle of December.

While most of the remaining construction tasks are proceeding without a hitch, including outside lighting and signage, Dunne said there have been some issues with bright sunshine at the school over the past week or so.

Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. added there have also been some issues with bright sunlight in the gym, especially during early morning basketball games.

The new, $92.6-million school was built with plenty of open space and windows to let in natural light.

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Bettencourt and Dunne said there have been discussions with the contractor to address the sunlight issues, especially in the cafeteria and office areas as well as the gym.

There is also some work being done to make sure the heating system is working properly, Dunne said. Outside the building, the old middle school has been demolished and work has begun on the athletic fields.

The final configuration of the fields will likely include a football field and additional open space that can be used for soccer and other sports.

“The construction of the athletic fields is ongoing and it is all going according to schedule,” said Dunne.

Construction began on the new school, only feet away from the old Higgins Middle School, in the summer of 2014. The Massachusetts School Building Authority is covering just under $44 million of the project cost.

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