Haverhill’s School Budget Increases with Receipt of $4.6 Million in Added State Aid

Hunking School (Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News.)

The Haverhill School Committee last night approved a revised budget for the school year after learning the city will receive a $4.6 million boost in education aid—known as Chapter 70—from the state.

The increase was announced at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Council Vice President Colin F. LePage explained the figures.

“These changes would net out as follows: Increase in school budget from Chapter 70—$4,996,032, decrease in school budget from Medicaid—$387,000, so it is a net increase in the school budget of $4,609,032,” LePage said.

The increase came about as the result of two factors, an update last year, in the state’s formula for determining financial eligibility and the conversion of Haverhill’s kindergarten classes to full time. School Superintendent Margaret Marotta explained.

“When we converted to full day kindergarten about a year and a half ago, it moves your kindergarten numbers up. So, if you have 600 kindergarteners, each attending kindergarten a half day, they are counted as 300 kindergarteners, so you only get half the money that comes from the state. So, when we converted to full day kindergarten, we immediately got a $2.5 million dollar bump,” she said.

Marotta said the was money owed to the city for several years and she has been discussing the best ways to use the new income with the Finance Subcommittee.

She went on to give an overview of the updated budget for the current year which includes an increase in personnel to work with the neediest students and those with disabilities. Other areas that will be beefed up include additional substitute teachers and more human resources support. She said the new budget also includes $700,000 set aside as emergency COVID-19 funds as well as nearly a half million dollars in upgrades to the school district’s HVAC systems.

The updated budget passed by a vote of 4-2 with committee members Toni Sapienza Donais and Maura Ryan-Ciardiello voting against, saying they had not had adequate time to review it.

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