Schools Require $4.7 Million More to Keep Status Quo

An internal email from Superintendent James F. Scully says there is no “no wiggle room” to accommodate increased enrollments.

Hunking Plan Requires Yet Another $1.1 Million

pay for newsA Haverhill School Department proposal to open more seats at the new Hunking Middle School for students across the city while at the same time alleviating crowded classrooms at Tilton and Consentino schools will have to be withdrawn if the School Committee balks at adding $1.1 million in new spending next year, according to documents obtained by WHAV.

Superintendent James F. Scully’s spending plan calls for adding 22 new, full-time teaching positions at a cost of $1.1 million. The increase represents a modest hike of about 1.5 percent over this year’s $73.8 million school budget.

The superintendent’s spending proposal, however, shows the district must first increase spending next year by $4.7 million – 6.3 percent – just to offer the same services for students as this year.  That increase is comprised of teacher pay increases, energy cost increases and special education spending increases the district is contractually obligated to pay.

This means the district needs a total increase of 7.8 percent—to $78.5 million—to avoid spending cuts and add the new teachers to accommodate the Hunking expansion plan.

This year’s school budget debate begins with new attention and scrutiny on school spending. A recent analysis by economist Thomas Grannemann and a new group called the Haverhill Education Coalition shows Haverhill’s per-pupil spending is among the lowest in the region and among similar urban communities. The report, Benchmark Haverhill Schools, found Haverhill per-pupil spending and student-to-teacher ratios are last among seven similar urban districts reviewed by Grannemann. When it comes to teacher salaries, Haverhill ranked sixth among the seven urban districts Grannemann looked at, and last among 18 neighboring school districts.

“No new programs or technology will be offered until the mayor and (School Committee) approve the additional 1.5 percent (spending in next year’s school budget),” reads an email obtained by WHAV and sent recently by Scully to the district’s principals and senior administrators.

The email goes on to state the superintendent sent it in response to phone calls he has been receiving from parents requesting information on potential new opportunities and programs the district would like to offer, if funding is approved.

“The increase in (district-wide) enrollments and the desire for increased opportunities with the opening of Hunking, allow for no wiggle room without additional funding,” the email continues. “…Make sure the accurate message is relayed when questioned by parents. Please do not raise expectations unless you have the ability to deliver. Without additional funding, I can just barely maintain what we now have.”

The superintendent’s budget proposal shows that, in recognition of the city’s financial constraints, he has already dismissed more than $2 million in new spending requested by principals for additional teachers and academic supplies.

9 thoughts on “Schools Require $4.7 Million More to Keep Status Quo

  1. I am a very moderate thinking individual . However my years of experience as a vocational school committee member and chairperson (14) years has shown me the best educated students come from the systems that put the students first by spending whatever is necessary. Hiring the best personnel available by paying exceptional compensation is usually the best idea. That is the best from the support staff to the teachers, principles and leadership personnel will achieve what is necessary. What is necessary is students that excel. We have many excellent employees within our system. Lets pay them what a salary that reflects their abilities. Lets have someone check some bus stops to see how many students are coming from Lawrence and some of our southern NH cities and towns. Lets take a look at some of the license plates of the vehicles that are dropping the students of at the high school and other schools throughout the city. PAY WELL ! SEND MORE OF OUR STUDENTS TO COLLEGES AND INCREASE THE MCAS SCORES.

  2. The way Haverhill schools are managed is an embarrassment. Great, there’s a new wonderful school in Bradford. But it already has run out of room? And Haverhill’s pathetic history of maintaining its municipal buildings is appalling. In 5 years we the tax payers will be told the state of the art Hunking sprung a leak somewhere or the AC died due to neglect, and we need to cough up more money to fix it. Meanwhile, schools like JG Whittier, Constantino and Tilton are in danger of falling down around the people inside them. How can children excel when they are housed in conditions worse than our prisons? How can staff feel inspired if they have to navigate around multitudes of buckets catching drips from the walls and roofs?

    And one of the better performing elementary schools, Silver Hill, is in danger of losing its charter because there is some ignorant misconception that it is a “Charter School”. It is a Horace Mann school; it operates like all the other public schools in the city, minus the city-wide, open to ALL lottery. The student body is comprised of Hispanics, Asians, Caucasians and African Americans. It is also a neighborhood school; over 60% of the SH kids move on to Constantino, their neighborhood middle school. It is not some private “Country Club” academy. So it is detrimental when several elected officials refer to Silver Hill as “Silver Spoons”. Why wouldn’t the politicians and naysayers in this city want to look to this Level 1 school as an example vs. destroying it?

    All the meaningless blather from City Hall about how they care about education and improving the schools needs to stop. The majority of Haverhill’s current administration has been spinning their yarns for too long. Stop building condos without caring about the schools’ population or facilities. The Mayor has said in the past that because these new spaces are lofts or 1-2 bedroom, they don’t attract people with children, so therefore, school population won’t be an issue. That is a false statement. I know of 3 families in 3 different buildings with 1-2 bedrooms with 1-2 kids. They bought/rent theses spaces because it is what they could afford. They can’t afford to move and will be sending their kids to Tilton or Golden Hill in the next few years.

    When it is time to elect our representatives to speak up for our schools, every resident in this city should remember whether you have kids in school or not, the value of your home is tied to the quality of education Haverhill offers. Just look up your home on any real estate site and you will see the schools get rated “0-5” out of ten. ZERO!!

  3. Keep allowing 4 duplexes with 2-3 bedrooms to replace 1 single family home on city lots and its no surprise more money is needed for schools. A possible 16 students where 4 once lived is simple math for the school department. At 16K a student that’s 200K more for just one lot.

    • Rich, You are right and the same goes for the 40R zoning they changed downtown to allow developers get the bank monies to develop the old mill buildings like the Cordovan. What they failed to realize is that this is exactly what Lawrence did back in the 70’s and look what happened, subsidized city ! Ask the police dept where they get called the most….bingo. You have folks paying high rent and next door are subsidized units. Think about how many kids are in these buildings ? Some folks on that committee may not realize what they were doing when they did it.

  4. Haverhill schools are being run by hardcore liberal democrats. These Democrats live by the philosophy that taxing and spending is the means to success. What better confirmation do you need than the boss had to communicate to these liberal ideologs that their promise to parents of more spending will be hit with the realities of a thing called a budget. As expected … liberal educators still operating under the misguided thinking that throwing money at an issue solves everything.

    Haverhill Education Coalition is a special interest group made of self-serving teachers and educators looking to raid your wallet. They say their goal is to promote higher standards, but nothing could be further from the truth. When Questions 2, the issue of expansion of charter schools in Massachusetts was on the ballot last fall, no one worked harder to defeat it than Haverhill teachers and educators. Taking away parent’s choice of where to send their kids to school was their idea of raising standards. Remember, teacher’s unions do nothing but breed mediocrity. Now that the threat of competition of more charter schools is out of the way the goal is to manipulate information to raid the coffers. They’re coming for your money!!

  5. WOW ! Talk about price increase. Why is this so high an increase when inflation is less than half that and people’s salaries are stagnant in the private sector ? Once again, we see how high the cost has become to educate our kids, yet as stated, nothing changes. The system is broken yet we keep throwing money at it. At some point, it will implode. Then what ?

    • If the city were growing in a fashion that had wealthy folks moving in with money to SPEND and not save (if they have any) it would not be an issue as the consumption would have positive returns. Instead, Haverhill gets the lower end of the economic spectrum, consumption by those that barely can afford to live here or can’t afford at all, subsidized by government/taxpayers.

      Mayor Jimmy doesn’t get this, nor his ilk, it simply becomes a mathematical issue, not a political one, even though Jimmy tries to spin anything and everything into politics. So we continue to get over-populated schools, structural and continuing deficits (papered over by local aid monies), and can’t compete fiscally to pay folks because the city is too poor in the first place.

      This is the paradigm, all the productivity is being financed by more and more debt(s). So you’re right, at some point it does implode, but no one knows when. On that journey though, depending on household income levels, more will suffer as they are slowly eaten away by those making these terrible decisions, stealing evermore the fruits of YOUR labor, in the name to support a false narrative or political ideology.

      Mayor Jimmy of course has leverage, first, he knows folks are to poor to move anywhere else. Both home and rental prices are still climbing, and not fundamentally in line with incomes, so folks are trapped. Second, he has Brian on Beacon Hill that will just rob someone else to funnel more funding here. Doesn’t matter the harm in the bigger picture they cause, because they simply do not care.

      • Duncan, I believe full well that Jimmy Taxman knows what he’s doing when it comes to his policy decisions regarding housing in Haverhill, He’s simply using the power of his office to implement a liberal public policy agenda issue at the local level. Having government simultaneously subsidize both housing and education for the poor on the backs of taxpayers, and at the same time grow the assured Democrat voting base is a dream come true for liberal democrats like Jimmy. He doesn’t care, because like you continually educate the folks that read your posts here, he’ll simply create more debt to finance it all.

        But here’s a scary thought….what if he isn’t expanding housing in the city intentionally for the sake of liberal public policy? What if he really doesn’t understand the budgetary mathematical implications of his actions? Is that possible?