State Plans Public Hearing on Haverhill’s Proposed New Montessori Charter School

City residents have the opportunity to sound off on a proposed Montessori charter school (like the existing one in Ward Hill) in Haverhill at a Dec. 3 public hearing. (Courtesy photograph)

Officials from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are headed to Haverhill next month to hear resident concerns related to a proposed Montessori public charter school that could open in the city in 2019.

Adhering to the Wildflower Montessori model, the proposed Haverhill charter school would serve up to 240 area students in grades 1-8, according to DESE. Haverhill’s proposed new offering is one of two being entertained by the elementary and secondary education division. The Lawrence-based Equity Lab Charter School submitted application materials in an effort to open a school catering to grade 5-12 students.

While Equity Lab initially planned to invite Haverhill and Methuen students to enroll, the group announced last month that the school would be only targeted to Lawrence residents. The change was made, said applicants, because Education Commissioner Jeff Riley ruled the proposed three-city region does not meet a requirement that new charter schools serve districts performing in the lowest 10 percent of test scores.

At the public hearing planned for Monday, Dec. 3 from 4-6 p.m. at the downtown iHub, Haverhill residents are encouraged to offer feedback on the proposed school—as well as voice support or criticism. A companion meeting takes place Dec. 5 in Lawrence for Equity Lab’s offering.

The hearings are the latest in the final phase of DESE’s rigorous application process for the schools, which could open for business in fall 2019. Education commissioner Riley will ultimately decide which of the proposals, if any, to recommend to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for consideration. At least one Board member will be present at the hearings to report feedback to colleagues.

A final vote on the possible grant of charters is expected in February 2019.