Economist Reviews Haverhill School Woes; Solutions Elusive

Dr. Thomas Grannemann and Tim Jordan, of the new Haverhill Education Coalition, on the Open Mike Show.

Economist Thomas Grannemann pointed to several lagging measures of Haverhill school performance during 97.9 WHAV’s Open Mike Show Monday night.

Grannemann, joined by Haverhill Education Coalition’s Tim Jordan, presented data showing that Haverhill families with students enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12 have a somewhat lower federal poverty rate than other former industrial cities—known as Gateway cities. However, the average poverty rate is still higher than the state as a whole and higher than similar income communities.

“I think we’re identifying issues that needs to be addressed. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” Granneman said.

The economist also pointed out Haverhill’s student drop-out rate, as measured in four-year peer groups, is generally improving as it is across the Commonwealth, but it is still higher other Gateway and similar income communities. Dollars spent-per-student in Haverhill is also less. Grannemann has compiled these and other statistics at his website, While he didn’t suggest specific recommendations, those may come from a forum Wednesday, April 26, 7 p.m., at Hunking School.

Jordan said the event, “Reach Higher: A Haverhill Community Discussion on School Success,” feature Grannemann; Benjamin Forman, MassINC research director; and Lane Glenn, president of Northern Essex Community College. Glenn will moderate a panel discussion on “Improving Haverhill Schools: Objectives, Challenges, and Action Steps.” Panelists include Haverhill School Committee President Gail Sullivan, City Council President John Michitson and Dena Papanikolaou, a Haverhill resident, parent, and legal advocate.

Granneman said Haverhill’s spending-per-student—about $12,301—would need to grow 4.4 percent just to keep up with inflation through 2022, 7.4 percent to match other Gateway cities or 8.5 percent to match similar income communities. While he didn’t suggest how the city would pay for it, Jordan said, one option includes the city raising taxes closer to the voter-mandated Proposition 2 ½ caps.

During the last two years, Haverhill has increased taxes, but less than the maximum. Jordan said the property tax increase for the average homeowner would have been about $20 or $30 if the city had taxed at the maximum allowed.

Open Mike Show host Tim Coco noted some residents may have trouble paying their existing tax bills and are still facing water and sewer increases of up to 50 percent, as some officials have projected.


8 thoughts on “Economist Reviews Haverhill School Woes; Solutions Elusive

  1. Timothy Jordan, 41, 167 Kingsbury Ave., Bradford, was arrested Saturday at 1:24 a.m. and charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol and marked lanes. Officer Adam Raymond made the arrest on Andover Street.

  2. What I see as the big reveal here is how much we are spending to educate kids and we are failing most of them. This is why so many people favor school choice. For half that amount a parent can send their kid elsewhere and get a good education plus a much more secure environment. Until we realize that the system is broken and seriously look to other ideas, nothing will change. Feeding the same failed system with more money is a typical response from those who feed off of said system.

    Also, Haverhill high needs a vocational track badly. I have been told that this was looked at but some folks in Haverhill could not be dealt with. That is a shame really as the majority of kids will not go to college or will struggle if they do go.

    Maybe the editor can look into this,

  3. Tim Coco….I’m not trying to be critical, I’m more curious…..but how do you “fact check” when bringing an article like this to print….or if to some extent you are relying on this comment forum to do it for readers…because there several comments by Thomas Grannemann are factually wrong.

    First off, voters did not “mandate” that taxes be raised by Proposition 2 ½. Proposition 2 ½ mandated that 2.5% be the most that taxes can be raised in any given year. Allowing for that comment to be included, worded the way it is, gives the impression that voters “advocated for raising taxes”, versus “limiting tax increases” under that legislation, when that is the furthest from the truth on what actually happened.

    “Jordan said the property tax increase for the average homeowner would have been about $20 or $30 if the city had taxed at the maximum allowed.” This is just WRONG. (I’m resisting saying a blatant LIE). Had taxes been increased to the maximum amount allowed they would have been raised $20 to $30 “more” than they already went up by the increase instituted. Taxes for the average Haverhill homeowner go up by OVER $100 ~ $150 per year, as every homeowner reading this knows.

    I’m not sure how Grannemann comes up with the $12,000 per student cost, but it’s WRONG. The cost to educate one student has been over $16,000.00 per student, per year in Haverhill Public Schools for several years now.

    This is just another example of a biased liberal organization trying to sway public opinion by intentional manipulation of numbers and “supposed facts”.

  4. I think all two of us watched this on FB last night.

    What I can’t believe is that they’re going to pull the “pre-selected” question game (yes Tim, that was me that called in with the Q), a maneuver held in reserve by folks who don’t like to answer tough questions. Anyway, this is such a complex issue, showing the terrible performance and costs associated won’t solve the issue – the “solutions elusive” is a great header.