Scully to LePage: Health Instructor Plan on Track

City Councilor Colin F. LePage.

Haverhill City Councilor Colin F. LePage.

Haverhill School Superintendent James F. Scully.

Haverhill School Superintendent James F. Scully.

Plans by the Haverhill Public Schools to hire another new middle school health instructor, to complement one hired last summer, remain on track, according to Superintendent James F. Scully.

Scully gave an update, as requested by Haverhill City Councilor Colin F. LePage during the public participation portion of Thursday’s school committee meeting. LePage said an upcoming series of parent forums by the schools on substance abuse, in the aftermath of findings in a high school student survey on drug and alcohol use, prompted his attendance. He added that a recent meeting he attended about a similar survey in Methuen found their numbers were half the results found in Haverhill. LePage said he learned health education there begins in earlier grades.

“The comparison in the YBS (Youth Risk Behavior Survey) numbers was to the state, the national and also to Methuen. And at that time it seemed that our numbers were double that of Methuen. And one of the reasons could have been they have a full health education,” LePage said. “They have it all the way down at their elementary grades.”

Scully assured LePage schools’ Business Manager Brian O’Connell has continued efforts, since a discussion last October, to locate funds for another health instructor.

“As I told the school committee and told you and others that were here that night, after the first of the year we look at our finances. And we’re still doing that this month. We’re going to have a report, I believe, next month for the school committee. But I’ve asked Mr. O’Connell to identify some funds so we can bring a health teacher on sooner than later. So we’re still on the same path as I mentioned to you in the fall,” Scully said. “It’ll become a reality.”

According to LePage, the school department, following earlier budget discussions for the current school year, hired its second middle school health teacher on staff last August.