Haverhill Schools Begin Budget Season With Draft $130.6 Million Spending Plans

Executive Assistant Beverly McGillicuddy, School Committee member Gail M. Sullivan, Superintendent Margaret Marotta and Assistant Superintendent Michael J. Pfifferling at a Haverhill School Committee meeting. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill school administrators presented the opening salvo of discussions regarding the upcoming school year budget at last Thursday’s School Committee meeting.

Two spending scenarios were presented—both showing an increase in net school spending for the upcoming year of little more than $9.5 million for a total of more than $130.6 million to service 8,252 students in grades K-12. The differences in the two budgets primarily relate to the number of teachers, tutors, interventionists and guidance counselors available.

Assistant School Superintendent Michael J. Pfifferling told the committee there are three levels of funding to be considered.

“First is to level fund the budget. That is basically saying you have $98 million this year; you have $98 million next year and you have to do the same thing. That is nearly impossible. The bottom floor for us is level service and that is to provide the same services next year as we did this year. What we all target, obviously, is increased services,” he said.

Pfifferling also presented the Committee with the results of a recent survey of parents and guardians as well as school staff and others. Those results show the two most important issues to those groups were investments to retain and recruit high quality staff and to support mental and behavioral health.

School Superintendent Margaret Marotta spoke about some of the successes achieved over the past year, despite the ongoing pandemic.

“We opened the Moody Preschool extension. We were able to add an additional 120 preschool seats. We added ELA and math coaches. We have now an ELA coach and math coach in all of our buildings. We’ve replaced boilers at Tilton and Whittier and water heaters at Haverhill High. We’ve done HVAC maintenance and repair. I mean, just a lot of good work on the physical plants of our schools,” she said.

Marotta also noted, with the addition of six new classroom teachers, class sizes have been kept at record low levels.

Looking ahead, the superintendent said the focus is on strengthening investments in the high school, academic remediation and advancement through grade eight, creating a viable alternative middle school and high school and investing in alternative education, student support and health education.

Committee members agreed further discussion is needed. Pfifferling said he hopes to have the budget process completed within four weeks.

He said the proposed budget will be online this week for public perusal. A School Committee budget workshop is scheduled for this Thursday. There will also be a public hearing on the budget Thursday, June 2. Following that, the final version of the proposal will be presented to the City Council for its approval.

Comments are closed.