LAWRENCE — In another step toward construction, officials will meet next week to sign the “long-awaited contract” for the new $103.7 million Leahy School reconstruction project.
Mayor Brian DePena, city councilors, local legislators, teachers, parents and students will meet Wednesday, March 23 at 11 a.m. to sign the contract for a new Leahy School to be built at 100 Erving Ave.
The city is using federal COVID-19 relief funds combined with public school construction relief funds for the new school. As expected now, the project will have no impact on municipal tax bills.
“After decades of neglect and inaction, we can finally say: We will have a new, modern Leahy School without raising taxes. There is no better business than investing in education – our education, for our social – economic growth, depends primarily on how our children are educated,” DePena said.
Built in 1921, the Leahy School no longer meets the needs of 21st century education, DePena noted.
City councilors in mid-February approved the use of $40 million of American Rescue Plan Act money to build the new school.
The board’s approval of ARPA funds for the school project came after voters rejected a tax hike to build the new school at polls in November.
After taking office Nov. 12, DePena unveiled a plan to build the school without raising taxes.
DePena’s plan calls for using $40 million in ARPA funds combined with more than $60 million in public school construction assistance funds to build the new school.
Problems at 101-year-old Leahy School include a leaky roof, massive space and storage issues, and structural problems.
The new school, designed to be built on Leahy’s current property, will feature a rooftop playground, indoor gymnasium, science and technology equipment and labs, art spaces and music such as those currently available to students at Wetherbee, Guilmette, Parthum and South East Lawrence Schools.
The project aims to reduce overcrowding at Leahy School and will also combine students from Lawlor School and upper grades from Leonard School.
The state is also providing funding for two other projects in Lawrence, including $49 million for a new police station and nearly half of the $132 million for the new Oliver Partnership School.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.