Free All-Day Kindergarten Included in Next Year’s School Budget, Says Marotta

Haverhill Public Schools Superintendent Margaret Marotta reads to city children during "Read Across America Day" on March 1, 2019. (Courtesy photograph)

Should this spring’s School Committee budget sessions go as Superintendent Margaret Marotta expects, all-day kindergarten will be free for all Haverhill families starting with the 2019-2020 school year.

Briefing the School Committee on her intentions Thursday night, Marotta said the proposal is included in the budget up for discussion in the coming months. The policy revision would make early education for the city’s children who are at least five-years-old complimentary instead of tuition-based. Currently, families who opt to send children to all-day sessions pay on a sliding fee scale.

Marotta is hopeful the program will broaden opportunities for city children and families. “We’re really excited for that. I think that’s great for our kids, our teachers, our classrooms and our families,” Marotta said. “We’re excited to have that next year.

School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti recalls pushing for all-day kindergarten 10 years ago alongside former Rep. Brian S. Dempsey, who secured state aid for the effort at the time, Magliocchetti said.

With line items to cover new school resource materials in the budget, Marotta’s School Committee colleagues like Richard J. Rosa applauded her attention to detail. That said, Rosa also argued Marotta was frugal when and where she could be.

“She’s really squeezed a lot out of this budget. She’s using the money efficiently,” Rosa said. “I don’t think people realize some of the things she’s done along the way to get more bang for the buck for our schools and for our taxpayers.”

Magliocchetti was quick to point out Marotta made a solid effort to listen to the needs of teachers, students and Haverhill’s School Committee, many who have spent the last several months fighting to improve the conditions in and out of the city’s classrooms.

“I commend the Superintendent for her efforts, for listening to the teachers and for giving us a budget that I feel addresses the needs of the children in the classroom, which is something we should all be focused on,” Magliocchetti said.

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