Public Sounds Off on FY18 School Budget: ‘It’s Not Enough’

Dr. John Maddox.

Dr. John L. Maddox urged School Committee members to rescind their approval of the Fiscal Year 2018 school budget to find additional sources of funding.

Despite pleas for increased spending from the public and some members of the School Committee who only days ago approved the document, the school budget for Fiscal Year 2018 remains at $79 million.

A string of speakers called for additional spending for teacher training, dropout prevention, early literacy and increased staffing.

The budget represents a $5.3 million — or 7.1 percent — increase in spending over this year.

Dr. John L. Maddox, a local pediatrician and the school district physician, urged committee members to rescind their approval of the budget and amend it before the close of the current fiscal year.

Maddox argued that shifting demographics in the city are taxing the schools with increasing numbers of economically disadvantaged students, many of whom require additional services.

“You have the option to amend this budget,” Maddox said. “I think you have time to do this right. This budget could be better.”

Maddox also took the committee to task for approving a $380,000 expenditure for the Greenleaf School, which was scheduled to be closed next year after its students were moved to the new Hunking School.

“Voters were told Greenleaf would close and you’re reneging on this promise,” Maddox said.

More importantly, Maddox said, the conditions at Greenleaf, including a failing roof, lack of cafeteria, no handicapped accessibility and inadequate bathroom facilities, are sub-par.

“The Greenleaf isn’t a conducive environment for learning,” he said. “That’s not what kids deserve.”

Maddox said the $380,000 being spent on Greenleaf could instead be used for teacher training, dropout-prevention services or a combination.

Dena Papanikolaou, a Bradford parent, challenged the School Committee to amend the budget to increase spending on programs that would improve the city’s 11.3 percent dropout rate and lift the city’s per-pupil spending, which she said is 18 percent below the state average.

By failing to find ways to increase spending, School Committee members are failing the city’s taxpayers and students, Papanikolaou said.

“You’re sending the message that the budget is good enough. We don’t agree. It needs to be better.”

School Committee members, in spite of their vote to approve the budget, expressed dissatisfaction in the overall spending level.

Committee President Gail Sullivan sought an additional $261,000 for professional development, fearful that federal grant funding in that amount will not materialize. The grant makes up the bulk of the schools’ teacher training account, except for $30,000 earmarked in the budget.

Member Paul A. Magliocchetti said the city should spend another $800,000 to $1 million to fully fund needed services, including professional development and a cadre of 10 social workers.

Referring to the demographic information raised by Maddox, Magliocchetti said five of the city’s principals identified social workers in their schools as a top priority.

“If you visit the schools and talk to teachers, principals and parents, main issue isn’t what is going on in the schools, it’s what going on in the home,” Magliocchetti said.

He urged the mayor to find more money for the schools.

“I’m really tired of hearing that we have to raise taxes and that we have to fire people on the city side in order to meet the needs of our educational community. I believe the money is there, that changes can be made without raising taxes and without laying off police and fire,” Magliocchetti said.

Maddox suggested the city divert $500,000 from the reserve fund and transfer it to the school budget.

Committee members decided to draft a letter asking Mayor James J. Fiorentini to dedicate another $500,000 to the schools.

Fiorentini suggested that the city is in line to receive a potential $300,000 windfall as the result of a host city agreement with a medical marijuana dispensary. Several organizations are looking at the city right now, the mayor said.














10 thoughts on “Public Sounds Off on FY18 School Budget: ‘It’s Not Enough’

  1. Change the zoning. Too many multi families going up on 5,000 sq ft lots. Where once a single home sat now there are 4 units. 6-8 more kids in the school system.

  2. Too bad most of those people are not paying attention to WHAV and its’ stories. They would have found their $300k tucked nicely within the Hunking school budget. Some will remember the Mayor charged his own project building fees of $300k. WHERE DID THAT MONEY GO ? Bueller ?? THIS is what you should be screaming about people. The Mayor basically “stole” that money and now Haverhill residents will be paying interest on that money for 20 years. WAKE UP – he is hiding money everywhere.

    • Haverhill schools are underfunded, based on average per capita spending, by $19m.
      How about we increase budget by $18.7m and pay off whatever $300k you are referring to?

    • Jack, you are right, the mayor did steal that $300K. But it’s a drop in the bucket of what this lying, scheming, corrupt mayor has hidden.

      The City of Haverhill uses a “Traditional” budgeting process. This means budgets are decided by using the previous year’s budget, plus any designated increases, to determine its next operating budget. This is opposed to a “zero based” budget where all expenditures must be justified in each new budget.

      Why is this important? Because in fiscal year 2013 the city ended the year with a budget surplus of $3.5MILLION. Taxes were collected from taxpayers but that money was never spent. In the following 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 fiscal year budgets that $3.5MILLION was never removed from the baseline number to start the budgeting process. This means the city collected $3.5MILLION for five consecutive years when it was determined there was no need for those funds in the 2013 budget. Over $17.5MILLION has been collected through this deception and that does not include the 2.5% yearly budget increase taxpayers pay on each $3.5Million. That amounts to an additional $350.000 a year!

      Just like with what you ask, Jack….where is he hiding the money?

      • Which would mean if all that money was spent on education ($17.5m) in a single year we would still be under the average statewide per capita.

  3. Based on 2015 numbers. To get to average MA per capita spending = $14,936
    Haverhill would have to spend and additional $2635 per student.
    Based on 2015 enrollment that would be $19million more dollars!

  4. “Maddox argued that shifting demographics in the city are taxing the schools with increasing numbers of economically disadvantaged students, many of whom require additional services.” –

    That is part of Mayor Jimmy’s and some other MA Democrats vision (i.e. Jamie Eldrige), invite the least educated, the poor, and Invaders, many whom are wards of the state, and then wonder why no one wants to move here or build industry here. It’s “relatively” cheap to live here, but what young, industrious and educated young folk or couple would want to move here? The schools certainly are not an attraction. Crime? Sans Bradford, you may as well be in a Third World country, and even then the creep of crime has crossed the river. The “non-profits” housing derelicts are contributing their “fair share” of crap to our neighborhoods with overburdened police calls for service to show for it.

    Want more money? Stop electing the Brian Dempsey’s, Linda Dean Campbell’s, and Kathleen O’Connor-Ives who continue to vote for funding BILLIONS of monies to Illegal Invaders (i.e. SCHOOLS, medical – health safety nets funds, criminal justice). These very same Invaders, many using fake/stolen PR identification (see – Boston PD drug report) facilitating the distribution of poison on our streets, making Haverhill an even more inviting city to live and raise a family. The very same Invaders, bringing in “multiculturalism” bullshit where they have no intention of being part of American Culture (i.e. language, assimilation, rule of law). Nope, just have kids, don’t bother to teach them anything at home, and ship them to public schools where they’re not even literate in their native language let alone English, now that’s a great learning environment, as well as a great attraction for the best teachers. An environment taxpayers are forced by law to pay for.

    Democrats and Republicans want their cheap labor and wage suppression to continue, especially in MA, and more strain on budgets for the benefit those put above Americans, including Americans health & safety, continues.

  5. “Maddox argued that shifting demographics in the city are taxing the schools with increasing numbers of economically disadvantaged students”

    Who exactly are these students Dr. Maddox? Are these the children of parents who are in this country illegally? With the mayor turning Haverhill into a sanctuary city, exactly how many children are in this category of student? The number is big, we know that, but just how big? Hundreds of students? Thousands?

    This is the very crux of the issue of illegal immigration. Parents break the laws of this country to provide a better quality of life for their family and hit the lottery by being able to have their children get an education….. for free….that they would never have gotten had they stayed in the country they left. And taxpayers are funding it.

    The yearly cost per student in Haverhill Public schools is $12,000+ per year. For every 100 students attending Haverhill schools who are here because their parents are criminally trespassing in this country illegally taxpayers are paying $1,200,000!! It would not be a stretch to say there are 500 students that fit this category in Haverhill schools, which means taxpayers are paying $6Million PER YEAR to pay for their education. Haverhill taxpayers are giving these children the gift of a lifetime and yet we need to pay to give them more? When exactly is enough enough, Dr. Maddox?

    Just think about how much money would be available for schools if the mayor didn’t encourage these invaders to come to Haverhill?