Committee Accepts $73.7 Million School Budget; Debates Cut

Haverhill School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti.

Haverhill School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti.

While passing a trimmed public schools’ budget for the year beginning July 1, the Haverhill School Committee will delayed further debate over filling an $18,000 clerical position at Pentucket Lake School until final review by the city council.

By a 6 to 1 vote, the Haverhill School committee Thursday passed an “amended,” $73,751,333 2016-2017 school district budget. The amount is a $645,000 or .9 percent, reduction from the draft budget submitted last month. It represents a target 5 percent increase sought by the committee during its budget workshops. However a pre-vote discussion, initiated by Committee President Maura Ryan-Ciardiello, sparked debate on whether or not the committee approved to cut funding, or “zero out” an Education Support Personnel (ESP) clerical position at Pentucket Lake School.

Fiorentini: “Well it was cut by the school committee at the last budget…”

Amirian: “But we never voted on that.”

Fiorentini: “Yes we did.”

Magliochetti: Yes we did, we voted on it…”

Fiorentini: “You voted against it.”

Scully: “The minutes of the meeting reflected it, you did vote.”

Fiorentini: It’s a six to one vote, you voted against it.

Magliocchetti: But we can vote to put it back. We just have to find the money to do it, correct mayor?”

Fiorentini: “Correct.”

Committeeman Scott W. Wood Jr. cast the “no” vote on the new budget after Superintendent James F. Scully explained the clerical position was previously funded but went unfilled and, in a similar situation when he was principal at Consentino Middle School, may have been covered by another school employee.

Scully: “That person was basically borrowed to cover and work in the office and that’s why it was zero funded under Mr. Sullivan.

Wood: “So I guess it’s true that there was nobody in the position and it would be a new position.”

Scully: “No, that’s semantical. Just as I indicated, when I was at the Consentino, I had someone in the office come and help me. I’m not sure what that person got paid for when I was the principal. So last year I don’t recall—with all the employees where that person went—if there was a person working and helping in that office.“

Fiorentini Calls for School Building Improvements

Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini, committee chairman, said the budget provides “additional investment” and also reflected a call, during public input, for building improvements at Tilton and Consentino schools, among others.

“Additional investment in education here in Haverhill is something to be proud of, and I am proud of it. And I hope the city council does not cut it,” Fiorentini said. “Councilor Michitson and I served on the city council back in an era where everything was funded at a minimum.

And when he and I constantly lobbied the mayors in order to produce extra money over and above net school spending. Today it’s an entirely different city.”

Fiorentini added he would introduce a capital spending plan, including school building projects, at Tuesday’s city council meeting.