Haverhill Puts Hope on School Budget Plan that Would Avoid Teacher Layoffs; Depends on State

Haverhill School Superintendent Margaret Marotta. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill School Committee members are holding out hope that teacher layoffs won’t be necessary despite expected economic damage caused by the coronavirus.

During a special session last Thursday, Mayor James J. Fiorentini said if the state avoids cutting Chapter 70 education money—local aid it provides to schools statewide—layoffs might not be necessary.

“Basically, what we are doing is using our reserves—our rainy-day fund—in order to supplement losses we are going to be getting from the state. While all the rest of the budgets in the city will either be held steady, as in the case of most budgets, going up a little bit in the case of the police, the school department budget will be going up. That didn’t happen with smoke and mirrors and it didn’t happen by accident. It happened by having lots of reserves and being able to dip into our rainy day fund,” Fiorentini said.

The mayor emphasized the scenario is based on level funding by the state and could fall several million dollars short should the state decide to make deeper cuts.

The plan will not allow filling any current vacancies in the school system. By using approximately $1.6 million of COVID-19 relief funds, eliminating transportation expenses over the summer and replacing retiring teachers with less costly recent graduate teachers, School Superintendent Margaret Marotta said no one will be losing their job.

“We can get by without any sort of cuts to staffing. Certainly no person who is presently employed by the school district will be losing their job. No classroom teacher positions would be eliminated,” she said.

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