June 11--HAVERHILL -- Karen Pugh, one of the leaders of the Haverhill For Hunking parent group, said her secret goal was to win all of the city's 21 precincts.
"But I never thought it would happen," Pugh said while celebrating the group's landslide victory last night at Bradford County Club.
Pugh has one son in the first grade and another in the third grade at Bradford Elementary School. They both will likely attend the new school, she said.
"I went to Haverhill Public Schools and I wanted the same for them," Pugh said. "Now it's going to happen."
Yesterday's debt exclusion to finance the new school was approved by voters 4,807 to 1,778. It authorizes the city to temporarily increase taxes to pay the city's $21 million share of a $61.5 million building to replace the deteriorated Hunking Middle School in the city's Bradford section.
The school for up to 1,005 students in kindergarten to grade eight is to be built next to the existing building. Construction will begin in the spring and the new school would open two years later.
"The parents are responsible for the vote and for the margin of victory," School Committeeman Paul Magliocchetti said of the election results. "It's their victory, along with the superintendent who was all in on this from day one."
Pugh said more than 100 volunteers helped with the pro-Hunking campaign, holding signs on street corners, knocking on doors and calling potential voters.
"The Haverhill for Hunking group did an outstanding job and it made all the difference in the world," said City Council President John Michitson, who joined the group on several weekends canvassing the city. "They convinced everyone we have to do this and pulled the whole city together."
Lisa Prendergast has one child in sixth grade at Hunking and another in first grade at nearby Greenleaf Elementary School. She said she knocked on more doors in the last few weeks than she could remember.
"This is an investment in the children of the city," Prendergast said of election results.
Her friend Sylvia Harrison wondered what they will do this coming weekend now that the election is over.
"I don't know what we'll do this Saturday with no more doors to knock on," she said.
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