Haverhill Considers Moving Moody Pre-School Extension; Cancelling Main Street Lease

(File photograph.)

School Administrators say it may be time to end the lease with Temple Emanu-El for use of extra classrooms for the Moody Pre-School Extension, but School Committee members responded by saying perhaps that plan needs a closer look.

Haverhill School Assistant Superintendent Michael J. Pfifferling introduced the proposal at Thursday’s School Committee meeting. He explained the school district is in the second year of a three-year lease with the temple, but has the option to cancel after year two. He said with the movement of the Gateway Academy to St. James School, the Crowell School has become a better option.

“The Temple classrooms are about half the size of the Crowell classrooms. So, it restricts us to maxing out at about nine students per classroom and we have approximately eight classrooms there. We can get about 72 students in the morning and 72 students in the afternoon at full capacity,” he explained.

By comparison, Pfifferling said the Crowell School has larger classrooms capable of holding a total of 105 students in each of the two sessions. Additionally, that move would save the school district a little more than $100,000 per year in rent and other expenses.

Despite that, Committee members questioned if this was the right time to be making such a move. Scott W. Wood Jr., wondered if the rooms could instead be used for office space while fellow committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti questioned the wisdom of working without a net.

“Are you and the superintendent comfortable that we’re not going to need these rooms again over the next couple of years, because I’d hate to give them up and lose the option kind of as a contingency plan?” he asked.

The assistant superintendent responded that, for a number of reasons, the administration and the staff working at the school thought it was a good idea, benefitting the students who do not have a playground area at the present location.

Committee member Richard J. Rosa said he could see both sides of the issue but expressed faith in the school administrator’s decisions.

“I don’t disagree with my colleagues. On the other hand, you and Dr. Marotta and others have put a lot of thought into this plan and for us to just simply say ‘Oh, let’s start using another building’ kind of throws a monkey wrench into everything,” he said.

Ultimately, based on a suggestion by Magliocchetti, the Committee agreed to ask the Temple to extend this year’s lease until August, giving the school department time to consider all aspects of the plan before pulling the plug on the Moody Extension. They did unanimously agree, however, if the Temple does not grant the extension, school administrators could move ahead with cancelling the lease.

Based on a suggestion from Committee member Gail M. Sullivan, Pfifferling said all of this information would be made available on the school’s website.

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