Haverhill’s ‘Rightsizing’ School Plan Shifts Principals, Creates New Central Office Post

Principal Dianne Connolly poses as Lady Liberty with Mayor James J. Fiorentini during “Ellis Island Day.” (WHAV News file photograph.)

Leadership of several schools is shifting as the Haverhill School Department implements its so-called “rightsizing plan.”

Among the biggest changes, Pentucket Lake School Principal Dianne Connolly leaves the school for a new central office job as director of multi-tiered systems of support. Connolly, who has been Pentucket Lake’s principal since 2009, will be succeeded by current Walnut Square School Principal Maureen Gray. Superintendent Margaret Marotta described the movements as “key changes in leadership” at last Thursday’s School Committee meeting. She explained Connolly’s new role.

“We try to build interventions and supports across the school district that meet the needs of all kids,” she said.

Until 2015, Gray served as Tilton Elementary School principal when she was assigned to Walnut Square. She will be succeeded by Toni Donais, who becomes administrator at Walnut Square. Donais currently supervises Greenleaf School’s kindergarten. Greenleaf is being repurposed as the Haverhill Alternative School.

Reassignments of Gray and Donais address a concern raised by School Committee member Maura Ryan-Ciardiello during last month’s budget vote. Ryan-Ciardiello noted consolidation of kindergartens at elementary schools leaves Walnut Square with just 140 students—too few to justify a full-time principal there.

Current Tilton School Assistant Principal Meg Fitzgerald shifts to the same position at St. James School—to be known as Tilton Upper, serving grades 4-6. She will be succeeded by current Bradford Elementary Assistant Principal Shaun Bateman.

The rightsizing plan is designed to ease classroom overcrowding by shifting students to buildings where there are underused classrooms.

In a letter to parents Thursday, Connolly said her proudest accomplishment was “the elevation of Pentucket Lake from an underperforming school to a school not in need of targeted assistance from the Department of Education.” She said her new job involves “creating a system of academic, social/emotional and behavior supports for all students districtwide.”

Comments are closed.