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Selectmen won't endorse $75 million high school renovation

SALEM — The Board of Selectmen is not giving an official vote of support to the proposed $75 million high school renovation project.

At this week's selectmen's meeting, board member Michael Lyons made a motion to have the selectmen's representative to the Budget Committee support the renovation article at next week's public budget hearings.

"I believe the most important vote will be the high school renovation," said Lyons. "The administration was kind enough to give me a tour of the high school the other day, and we badly need it. I believe this board supports it and should instruct the Budget Committee representative to support it at the Budget Committee vote."

But Everett McBride, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said the board does not typically take the position of voting on school budget items.

"Individually, you can go do whatever you want, but I think we have our own battles to fight," said McBride. "I think we ought to focus on our own side of the street. I vote against the motion, only because the board has never done that before."

The other three selectmen joined McBride in voting against Lyons' motion.

"I wish the School Board all the luck in the world," said McBride.Last month, the School Board approved placing an article on the March town election warrant asking to appropriate $74,745,000 for the high school project.The actual amount that will be bonded for the project is closer to $64 million, however, as the state is picking up the tab for the $10.8 million for the renovations to the high school's Career and Technical Education Center.

Last week, the School Board gave its support to Superintendent Michael Delahanty's request to have the remainder of the project paid for with three bonds issued over three years, each bond totaling just over $21 million per year.

Each bond would be a 25-year bond, according to Delahanty. At the peak of the bond issues, the average homeowner will be paying about $330 per year toward the high school project.

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