School Officials to Address Poorly Maintained Shortcut Used by Students

Mirca Mejias asks for help making a shortcut safer for students. (WHAV News photograph.)

School officials will look more closely at an informal path Consentino and Silver Hill students use as a shortcut after parents called it dangerous. Mirca Mejias told Haverhill School Committee members Thursday night the path should be patrolled by security, cleaned of snow and cleared of dangerous tree limbs. Worse, she added, the area is a haven for fighting. “This is also a pathway where people—children—meet up to fight, bully, one another, and it’s not safe,” she said.

HHS Science Students to Benefit from $50,000 Grant Beginning Next School Year

Haverhill Schools’ Supervisor of Science and Technology Kevin R. Higginbottom said the grant focuses on biomedical science for high school students. (WHAV News photograph.)

Haverhill High School science students will benefit from a $50,000 grant beginning during the next school year. Kevin R. Higginbottom, the district’s supervisor of Science and Technology, told School Committee members Thursday night the program is aimed at freshmen, sophomores and juniors. “It’s rigorous and very challenging,” Higginbottom told WHAV after the meeting. While more details are coming, he said, the biomedical science grant comes from Indianapolis, Indiana-based Project Lead the Way.

Analysis: Does School Business Manager Fate Hang on Finances or Politics?

Brian O’Connell, rear right, told the School Committee last May of his plan to pre-pay certain expenses with an expected surplus—an amount members said should have been known and disclosed. (WHAV News photograph.)

Brian O’Connell, Haverhill Public Schools’ business manager, appears to be on the verge of losing his job. Depending on who is asked, O’Connell is either someone who bungled the school budget or a victim of the political winds that sidelined the former school administration. O’Connell—a 34-year member of the Worcester School Committee, a lawyer and someone who has worked in school finance since 2002, has served mostly quietly and behind the scenes for a little more than three years. Report: Ouster Plan Takes Shape at Heated, Closed-Door Meeting

Even though his $130,000 contract ended last June, O’Connell is still a city employee and his formal termination may require a two-thirds vote of the School Committee.

Northern Essex to Add Esports and Varsity Basketball, Soccer Teams

Northern Essex Community College is hosting an eSports program for the first time in the school's history and is reintroducing varsity men's soccer and women's basketball. (File photograph.)

Northern Essex Community College announced they are adding three new varsity athletic programs for the 2019-2020 academic year, including a new multi-player video game program. Two of the varsity teams are making their return to NECC, as the college is adding a men’s soccer and women’s basketball team. Meanwhile, the video game program, also known as eSports, pits student-athletes from NECC against colleges and universities across the country in online multi-player games with the objective of defeating the opposing institutions as a team. NECC’s Director of Athletics Dan Blair has high hopes for the three programs, saying “we are excited about bringing both men’s soccer and women’s basketball back to the college.

Haverhill Promise Hosts Focus Group With Springfield Early Literacy Leader Fuller

(Left to right) Haverhill School Committee Member Richard Rosa, State Rep. Andy Vargas, School Committee Member Gail Sullivan, The Irene E. & George A. David Foundation Project Head Sally Fuller and school pediatrician Dr. John Maddox discussed the importance of having children achieve full literacy by third grade. (WHAV News photograph)

Haverhill is continuing its effort to have all city students reading at grade level by the end of third grade, calling in assistance from a group who has been in its shoes: Springfield-based Reading Success by 4th Grade. On Monday, educators and members of the Haverhill School Committee gathered at the Haverhill Public Library for a presentation on the community initiative funded by The Irene E. & George A. David Foundation with the goal of having all children in Springfield reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Several Haverhill city and state leaders, including state Rep. Andy Vargas and school pediatrician Dr. John Maddox, hope to replicate the success of the group closer to home through a cross-sector collaborative called Haverhill Promise. According to Sally Fuller, the Springfield group's project director, the inspiration for their local initiative began after John Davis, a trustee for the foundation, learned that only 33 percent of city third graders could read at or above grade level.

Fiorentini Celebrates Tilton MCAS Achievement at ‘ROAR’ Pep Rally

Mayor Fiorentini and Superintendent Margaret Marotta praised Tilton School students for MCAS achievement. (WHAV News photograph)

Haverhill’s Tilton Elementary School tigers have MCAS scores to roar about, according to Mayor James J. Fiorentini. The city leader joined Tilton’s staff and 470 students in kindergarten through fourth grade for their monthly pep rally Thursday that doubled as a celebration for their achievement on the statewide Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests. Joined by Principal Bonnie Antkowiak and Superintendent Margaret Marotta, Fiorentini presented the school with his Mayor’s Excellence in Education Award after the school raised their MCAS score 20 points over the last three years—a boost from a 1 percentile rank to the percentile rank of 21. At Thursday’s rally, Fiorentini said acknowledging Tilton’s achievement was a “no brainer,” as the school saw the biggest jump in results districtwide.

School Committee on Reported $1M in Encumbrances: ‘Who Authorized These Things?’

Haverhill School Committee member Member Gail M. Sullivan. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Members of Haverhill’s School Committee dug into the preliminary outside financial review issued by Hopkinton’s Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials at Thursday’s meeting, and while the district was praised in several areas, there is still work to be done. While longtime School Committeeman Scott W. Wood Jr. said the report didn’t contain anything “earth-shattering” that he hadn’t heard previously—such as best practices tied to personnel and contract issues with bus services, for example—others on the Committee were taken aback at the mention of $1 million in reported encumbrances. Member Gail M. Sullivan was among the first to raise concern over the planned expenditures—especially after the city’s Business Manager Brian O’Connell deemed the school department’s budget to be in solid shape. Sullivan called the situation a “travesty.”

“That’s one of our biggest responsibilities is the budget and to prioritize,” she said.

Council to Revisit Hunking Building Permit Fee; Mayor Says It’s Too Late

Consultant Katy Lillian with former school Superintendent James F. Scully during construction of the new Hunking School. (WHAV News file photograph.)

When the city converts its temporary financing for the new Hunking School into a long-term bond this fall, at least one city councilor is again asking for $300,000 in building permit fees to be refunded. Councilor Colin F. LePage told his colleagues Tuesday night residents shouldn’t be paying for the city’s 2015 building and demolition permit fee and expected interest. “We reduce that by $300,000 so the taxpayers don’t pay over 20 years for a $300,000 building permit,” he said. Not so fast, responded Mayor James J. Fiorentini, when asked by WHAV.