Haverhill’s State Legislators Hear City Wish List, Admit Problem With Paying for New Schools

Sen. Barry R. Finegold. (WHAV News file photograph.)

All four members of Haverhill’s legislative delegation last week came to hear city councilors’ wish list and also acknowledged shortcomings with the state formula for helping to pay for new schools.

They were the city’s new senators—now two of them as a result of redistricting, Barry R. Finegold and Pavel M. Payano and state Reps. Andy X. Vargas and Ryan Hamilton, who succeeded Rep. Linda Dean Campbell. Finegold began by touting recent accomplishments.

“I’m very proud recently of securing nine million for Haverhill for economic development. We’re very excited about recently for helping get increased money for the Consentino School from the MSBA,” he said.

The longtime senator, whose district grew this year to include Haverhill, said the whole group worked in concert in achieving those goals and would continue to do so in the future.

While councilors expressed gratitude for the delegates’ willingness to work with the city, they did not shy away from asking a few tough questions. Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan asked about the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s questionable math practices.

“Why is it okay for them to say they are going to cover 78% of the school—the Consentino, but, in reality, it’s really 51%. Why is that even legal?” he asked.

Finegold agreed the School Building Authority does have problems that need solutions.

“One of the things we’ve been advocating with MSBA is they have been basically capping every city at $350 per foot. A lot of towns are really falling short and it’s really becoming a big hardship for a lot of communities, so it is something that we are going to have to address,” he said.

Vargas added the problem comes down to the financial pie is only so big.

“We’ve talked to them and asked them to increase their funding closer to what they say it’s going to be. They tell us then we’re going to have to do less schools and so the solution really is making sure that we’re providing the MSBA with the funds they need to deliver on that,” he said.

He explained the School Building Authority currently receives only a penny of every dollar generated by the sales tax.

Council also took the opportunity to advocate for more state money for fire stations and other school building repairs.

Comments are closed.