, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 7, 2013

Selectmen urge Pentucket board to sign school lease

WEST NEWBURY — Selectmen are pretty much done discussing a new lease with the Pentucket Regional School District for use of the town’s elementary school — and they want the school board to be done with it too.

At a meeting last week town leaders were scratching their heads over a letter from Pentucket Superintendent Jeff Mulqueen informing them of a decision by the School Committee to amend a recent vote on the elementary school leases in order to allow selectmen in Groveland and Merrimac the option of adopting language from West Newbury’s lease. The clause in question governs emergency repairs at the Dr. John C. Page Elementary School.

Each of the district towns retains ownership of its own elementary school buildings but leases the properties to Pentucket for a dollar. However, only West Newbury has ever executed a formal lease document with the school district. The current lease for Page School is set to expire in June.

In its next lease, West Newbury wants to maintain language in the existing lease that authorizes the district to undertake emergency repairs at Page School, once town leaders are properly notified about it. According to lease language, the district would then seek reimbursement for the work based upon an upfront agreement on cost.

This is the language that has always been in West Newbury’s lease and it has never posed a problem, which is why selectmen here say they want to hold onto it.

By contrast, Groveland and Merrimac’s new leases include verbiage that places sole responsibility for any emergency repairs on the town, once town leaders have been properly notified of the problem by the district.

The wording of this clause stems in part from dissatisfaction with how the district handled a mold and asbestos remediation in the Merrimac schools a few years ago. Officials in those towns seek more control over how emergency repairs and their associated costs are managed.

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