Haverhill Schools Accept City Maintenance Money, But Learns State Denies Moody Fix

(WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill School Committee members Thursday night accepted an additional $60,000 for building maintenance only to find out the state has denied money for replacing Moody School’s aging roof.

School Committee member Richard J. Rosa.

Maintenance of schools again rose to the forefront as members debated whether the school department’s focus should be fixing buildings or educating students. All of this came before School Committeeman Richard J. Rosa reported the state’s School Building Authority this week inexplicably refused to pay to replace Moody School’s 28-year-old roof.

He explained, “They decided that we weren’t eligible because the Moody School only enrolls pre-K students.” Rosa, an early and vocal advocate for the using the state’s Accelerated Repair Program, said the state decision makes no sense, and he knows of no limitations on how school buildings are used.

School Committee member Scott W. Wood Jr.

School Committee member Scott W. Wood Jr. cited Superintendent Margaret Marotta’s call for more school adjustment councilors as a reason to question using extra city money for buildings.

“If I had to allocate $60,000 anywhere, my first choice would not be maintenance,” he said.

Wood also said he was concerned about the city’s plans to hire a maintenance director next January. He said the new job appears to duplicate the role of Facilities Supervisor Heather Forgione. Member Gail M. Sullivan added, “I think we need clarity about who’s going to do what.”

Forgione admitted she spends most of her time supervising and doesn’t have enough staff to follow the department’s own maintenance plan. School Committee Vice Chairman Sven A. Amirian said he supports using $60,000 granted by the City Council Tuesday mostly because they “went to bat for more funding for us.”

Mayor James J. Fiorentini said “cleanliness” is being confused with maintenance. He said the schools can’t recruit substitute janitors because it pays less then minimum wage. Member Paul A. Magliocchetti suggested the Committee adopt a policy to pay minimum wage. Action was put off when Marotta noted the schools would need an estimated $120,000 to cover increases—not just for janitors, but for lunch and recess monitors, crossing guards and substitute teachers.

The Committee voted unanimously to accept the extra city money, while Wood voted against specifying the money be used for upkeep.

Movement of repairs at John Greenleaf Whittier School are progressing, Forgione said in response to inquiry from School Committee member Maura L. Ryan Ciardiello. Boys bathrooms were fixed in April and girls’ bathrooms are underway now. Forgione said an engineering study for major issues such as heating aren’t due until next week. Magliocchetti reminded the supervisor he is still waiting for a review of his proposal to add new heating and air conditioning units to the roof and forgo the school’s leaky and unreliable steam system.

Comments are closed.