NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — New Bedford City Council President Linda Morad and City Councilor at Large Shane Burgo say the planned DeValles/Congdon school is more cost-effective than building two new schools.

Speaking on WBSM’s Tim Weisberg Show on Friday, the two councilors said building a new school to accommodate a combined 760 students from the John B. DeValles and Congdon Elementary Schools would save money on building expenses and staffing rather than rebuilding the two 100-year-old schools.

The cost of building the new school would range from $100 million to $113 million.

Burgo said costs for maintenance and students would decrease as only one school would need it instead of two.

“It’s more feasible especially in the long-term when you're talking about staffing purposes at two different facilities,” Burgo said. “Now there is only one facility to maintain.”

The councilors also addressed the decision to build a new school on the former Goodyear property, rather than the other option, which was to build it on the same land as the current DeValles School.

Morad said under that plan, the students would need to be relocated to other locations while construction was underway.

“They were concerned they would have to take the kids out of the existing building and find a location for them to be educated during the construction period,” Morad said. “You're talking about 300-plus children trying to rush them to where the location is going to be.”

The two counselors also said the Goodyear site is safe from contamination, which they said was a concern for some of their constituents.

Burgo said that Michele Paul, the Director of Resilience and Environmental Stewardship, told the Committee on City Property on Tuesday that an assessment found no signs of contamination or hazardous materials at the Goodyear site.

“In her statement, they did find there was no contamination,” Burgo said. “Unlike some past situations, this time around we are very confident that there is no contamination around here and it's going to be very safe for our students.”

The City is required to take the Goodyear site through eminent domain before any construction can begin.

The city council has not voted on the taking yet but recommended a favorable vote when it is brought up for a final vote.

There was consideration for the site to be used as a lot for affordable and market-rate housing, but Morad said it was difficult to find large lots of land to build while also keeping buildings intact.

She was also concerned that there would then be two newly-vacated school buildings in the South End, joining the Dunbar School, which has been vacant for about 15 years.

“We were getting concerned about the fact that this is the third building in the South End that we abandoned,” Morad said. “There are two sides to this sword, we need housing."

Construction for the school will begin in Spring 2024 and is expected to be completed in January 2027.

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