Documents on School Website Contradict Scully Claims on Greenleaf

Just days before 50 or more kindergartners enter classrooms at the Greenleaf School, Superintendent James F. Scully is working to overcome what he calls misinformation that he promised to close the 133-year-old school in exchange for voter support to replace the Hunking School.

Roughly four classrooms’ worth of kindergartners who live closest to the Greenleaf School will attend the facility, which was built in 1884 and fails to meet Americans with Disabilities Act handicap-accessibility standards.

In August 2013 and again in October of that year, reports submitted by Scully to the state School Building Authority indicated that the Greenleaf would be “eliminated” from the district’s educational plans. The SBA ultimately reimbursed the city more than 67 percent of the cost of building the new Hunking.

But at Thursday’s School Committee meeting, Scully backed away from any talk of closing Greenleaf.

“Some are alleging we said we were closing the Greenleaf School,” Scully said. “My statement was we are going to pull the existing students out and put them into the Hunking. What we said was we were going to use the building in some capacity.”

The Educational Plan and official Schematic Plan submitted to the SBA as part of the city’s application for funding clearly state that the Greenleaf School would not house students once the Hunking School was built. Both documents can be found on the school district’s website.

Excerpts from the Educational Plan, submitted in August 2013, state:

“For operational efficiency and consolidation, this plan proposes to eliminate the Greenleaf School in order to provide a fully code-compliant and accessible facility for all students.”

“The building does not meet the needs of a 21st Century school facility. … The largest obstacle for using this building in the future is the fact that the building is not accessible to people with physical disabilities. … If a child lives right next door to Greenleaf, and happens to have a physical disability, that student must be bused to another building with accessibility.”

The document points out that Greenleaf lacks an elevator, accessible restroom facilities, or a proper library, cafeteria or gym. Its roof has failed and insufficient electrical infrastructure impairs use of technology available at other schools in the district.

The Schematic Plan, dated October 23, 2013, is even more direct in spelling out the plans for the Greenleaf. On a page titled Preferred Option Advantages, among items in the list is that it “removes the inefficient Greenleaf School from service.”

Scully insisted the classroom space in the Greenleaf School is needed to house all the district’s students. Nearly all schools are at capacity, except for some available seats at Bradford Elementary and Silver Hill School.

Because of the lack of handicap-accessibility at Greenleaf, if any kindergartners with physical disabilities should be registered late, they would have to attend Bradford Elementary.

Scully said the conditions at Greenleaf are safe for students. Two areas of mold, each roughly 3 by 18 inches, have been removed, flaking paint has been fixed and asbestos-containing tiles have been removed.

The plan is to use only first-floor classrooms, except for an upstairs room that has been renovated for use as a library.

After vigorous cleaning and removal of standing water in the basement, the old school is looking pretty good, Scully said.

“The difference is day and night.”

4 thoughts on “Documents on School Website Contradict Scully Claims on Greenleaf

  1. WHAV provides important followup to what was promised to Haverhill taxpayers, and the Massachusetts School Building Authority… the Superintendent and this Administration must think we are all dumb. It’s in writing!

    Superintendent and HPS still owes taxpayers an explanation as to why they are even opening Greenleaf this fall, considering:

    -HPS pledged to Haverhill taxpayers and the Massachusetts Schools Building Authority that it would close Greenleaf in its bid to secure the $41M+ MSBA grant, and voter approval for $20M bond/debt exclusion.

    -Exactly how much taxpayer monies are being spent this Summer on Greenleaf in terms of renovation. What will operating costs be for Greenleaf be this year?

    -There are at least 150 open seats available at Bradford Elementary, why is that building not being utilized instead?

    -Why, 9 months after opening a new $61M school, no asbestos, and 100% ADA compliant, are we being told it’s already inadequate to house and educate the students we were told it would house? This can’t be true, can it?

    -Will Greenleaf be 100% ADA compliant when it opens Tuesday?

    -Will the custodial staff at Greenleaf be fully trained and accredited according to AHERA asbestos management practices before Tuesday opening for their own safety, and safety of students?

    -Will HPS have fully updated their 30-year old, 3 decades outdated, but federally required to be current and maintained, AHERA Asbestos management plan for our schools, be updated before Tuesday? Why has HPS been out of compliance for 30 years?

    -Will HPS make the required annual asbestos notifications to parents and staff required by AHERA before Tuesday?

    ***If Haverhill ever closed Greenleaf they would presumably lose all of the waivers currently grandfathered in Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility violations – they, or someone else, would actually have to make it fully ADA compliant/accessible if they ever wanted to reopen it – that can’t be why they are keeping it open, is it? Because that would be a horrible excuse – not fair to the students/staff with the asbestos and all***

    Waiting on you Mr. Superintendent…

  2. Guess what? Bradford Residents don’t care if you were lied too, including a certain MA DoE General Counsel who lives in Bradford who spearheaded it being voted upon and passed.

    While the new school is very nice, and as someone on the other side of the vote, it was simply another classic example of: “If it sounds too good to be true…”, especially given the political hack antics in this city.