Attendance, Staffing, Program Expansion to Take Center Spots in Haverhill School Spending Priorities

Haverhill School Committee member Gail M. Sullivan. (WHAV News file photograph)

With school budget season fast approaching, members of the Haverhill School Committee last Thursday presented some of its ideas on top issues requiring attention in the upcoming year.

Committee member Gail M. Sullivan outlined her top priority, saying in order for education to be effective students first have to attend class.

“The priority of mine is to improve attendance. I think that’s a complicated goal. In preparation to do that, we need a lot of information about how would we do it and what’s the budget implication of that,” she said.

Last September, School Committee members said they were shocked to learn that nearly 30% of Haverhill students are chronically absent. At that time, it was hoped that the addition of adjustment counselors would help improve student attendance, but the issue still remains.

Other committee members agreed, adding their own ideas. Paul A. Magliocchetti said school staffing should be revisited to determine whether more help is needed or if current staff could be used more effectively.

Committee member Toni Sapienza Donais said she would like to see STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—programs extended into the middle school while Richard J. Rosa suggested holding budget discussions with the entire School Committee and school superintendent during regular meetings rather than sending such matters to its finance subcommittee.

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