State Rejects Proposal for New Haverhill Montessori Charter School

Mayor James J. Fiorentini spoke out against the charter school in December (Alex Guittarr photograph for WHAV News.)

The state has spoken: There will not be a new charter school coming to the City of Haverhill. In a letter issued by state Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley, plans for a Wildflower Montessori charter school were declared officially over.

Haverhill’s rejection comes six months after a group of seven organizers submitted a proposal to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to open a charter school that would serve 240 students.

In his decision, Riley said Haverhill’s group was just too early in the planning process to make the vision a reality. Applauding organizers’ “coherent vision for an innovative and promising educational option” Haverhill, Riley expressed concerns over the group ability to implement, govern and manage “all aspects of the proposed school design.”

Mayor James J. Fiorentini was among several city leaders and educators who packed a public hearing in December to oppose the initiative that would have stripped more than $1.6 million from the district’s public schools. Fiorentini said that while he is not completely opposed to charters, he was concerned about transportation costs and a predicted divide that could be created between poor and middle-class residents.

Haverhill Education Association union president Ted Kempinski tells WHAV Friday’s decision signals a positive vote of confidence for the public school system.

“This is a huge victory,” Kempinski said. “Now we can focus on what will really make a difference for our students: more resources and support for our public schools.”

The Lawrence-based Equity Lab Charter School also submitted an application to open a grade 5-12 school, but withdrew its name from state consideration last week.

Haverhill’s sole charter school, Hill View Montessori, operates out of Ward Hill. A new Montessori location, called Wisteria, is in the works in downtown Haverhill and expects to begin programs at 76 Merrimack St. later this year.