Union President: Inadequate School Funding Leads 1 in 4 Teachers to Quit

Haverhill parent Ted Kempinski, a Haverhill High School history teacher with three children in the city’s public school system. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Ted Kempinski, Haverhill Education Association President, rebuts recent comments by Mayor James J. Fiorentini that schools are “adequately funded.”

With two weeks remaining in Fiscal Year 2018, enough money remains in the School Department budget to pay for three small buses, new science curriculum materials and teacher training to use them, computers and software for a vocational technology program, and expansion of a new math curriculum.

School  Business Manager Brian O’Connell said careful management of spending throughout the school year leaves the district in “sound financial condition.”
After those expenses, O’Connell said, he expects to end the year with about $130,000 to spend. The superintendent will decide where the money should go, O’Connell said.

It is unclear whether the money can be used to offset an extra $425,000 that the School Committee voted to add to the Fiscal Year 2019 budget.

On Tuesday, city councilors voted to support the increase to the school budget.

But Mayor James J. Fiorentini has said he would allocate any available money to public safety, calling school funding “adequate.”

Teachers union President Ted Kempinski, a teacher at Haverhill High School, took issue with the mayor’s description, telling School Committee members that many of the city’s teachers can’t afford to stay in their jobs.

“Of 531 teachers, we have lost one of every four,” Kempinski said, quoting the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website. Fewer teachers leave the Lawrence schools, he said. “We hire many of Lawrence’s cast-offs.”

Kempinski said that according to DESE, only 11 districts in the state have a lower retention rate than Haverhill.

After the public portion of Thursday’s School Committee meeting, the board met behind closed doors to discuss a new teachers contract.