Fiorentini, Marotta Conduct Focus Groups at Schools: Kids Admit to Bus Delays, Call Breakfast ‘Awesome’

Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Superintendent Margaret Marotta chatted with Tilton Upper School students on Aug. 29, 2019. (WHAV News photograph)

Three days into Haverhill’s new school year, students at Tilton Upper and John Greenleaf Whittier appear to be settling in well—depending on which youngsters you ask. WHAV tagged along Thursday morning as Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Superintendent Margaret Marotta visited the city schools to assess the bus situation, and while responses were mixed, things seem to be getting better since Tuesday’s opening day.

At the brand-new Tilton Upper School on Primrose Street, fourth graders in Mr. Holt’s class reported few commuting problems while sharing their opinions during circle time. In Ms. Maggiocomo’s class, students took a break from watching educational videos to let Fiorentini and Marotta know that while rides mostly ran on time, music played on their buses was “too loud.”

Over at JG Whittier, seventh graders were much more candid about the bus issues that plagued the city. In an accelerated math class, five students raised their hands when asked if they had problems on Tuesday’s first day of school. A female classmate told Fiorentini and Marotta she has been forced to make her way across one of Haverhill’s most dangerous streets—Main Street—to catch her bus.

School officials also took the pulse on other issues in classrooms Thursday. Tilton Upper—which welcomed students at the former St. James School that used to house special education programs TEACH and HALT starting this week—won raves from children for a much larger gymnasium and free breakfast offerings like chocolate chip muffins, which kids called “awesome.” At JG Whittier, a new expanded library is taking shape, with the school piloting a digital program where students can check out offerings onto their Chrome books, Marotta told WHAV.

John McCarthy, the CEO of Haverhill’s new transit provider North Reading Transportation, is expected to attend Thursday’s School Committee meeting. Relying on a software program called Transfinder to organize this year’s routes, Marotta and Fiorentini continue to field complaints from families who say pickups and dropoffs lag 30-45 minutes behind schedule. Adjustments have and will continue to be made, the superintendent tells WHAV.

Stay with 97.9 WHAV FM for full coverage of Thursday night’s School Committee meeting. The session is open to the public and begins at 7 p.m. in room 202 of City Hall, 4 Summer St., Haverhill.

Comments are closed.