School Committee to Vote Tonight on $74.4 Million Budget

The Haverhill School Committee is scheduled tonight to formally advance next year’s public school spending plan for the year beginning July 1.

Committee members plan to hold a public hearing and vote on a final version of a $74.4 million draft budget previously outlined for the committee by schools Business Manager Brian O’Connell. O’Connell’s proposal, as reported earlier by WHAV, represents a $3.5 million, or 5.91 percent, increase over the current budget. He attributed the increase to, among other things, incremental raises for teachers and other “contractual settlements,” as well as to add new health instructors, a nurse and additional staffing at the new Hunking School, slated to open in early 2017.

Increased school funding is paid, in part, by $3 million more in Chapter 70 state funding, to a total $49.3 million. It was proposed in the House version of a state budget plan released last month by Haverhill Rep. Brian S. Dempsey, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

“Haverhill Public Schools account for 41.4 percent of the total budget,” Mayor and Committee Chairman James J. Fiorentini said during a budget presentation earlier this month. “When we count the school portion of retirement, health benefits, other benefits, regional school costs and the school portion of our capital budget, the total appropriation for education related items is 61.1 percent of the total budget. No other expenditure comes close and nothing should. Education is the key to our future and our top priority.”

The Haverhill City Council has scheduled its review of the new public school budget at 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 1.

The Haverhill School Committee meets at 7 p.m., tonight, in Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers at Haverhill City Hall.