Haverhill’s ‘Rightsizing’ School Plan Shifts Principals, Creates New Central Office Post

Leadership of several schools is shifting as the Haverhill School Department implements its so-called “rightsizing plan.”

Among the biggest changes, Pentucket Lake School Principal Dianne Connolly leaves the school for a new central office job as director of multi-tiered systems of support. Connolly, who has been Pentucket Lake’s principal since 2009, will be succeeded by current Walnut Square School Principal Maureen Gray. Superintendent Margaret Marotta described the movements as “key changes in leadership” at last Thursday’s School Committee meeting. She explained Connolly’s new role. “We try to build interventions and supports across the school district that meet the needs of all kids,” she said.

Governor’s Designation Means Northern Essex Early College Free to Haverhill Students

The Haverhill High School Early College Program at Northern Essex Community College was one 13 high schools and eight public colleges statewide to receive the endorsement of Gov. Charlie Baker Thursday. The designations mean all courses are free to Haverhill High students beginning this fall. Baker, at a ceremony at Bunker Hill Community College, awarded designations to the early college programs. Northern Essex Community College President Lane A. Glenn said he is pleased the governor has made Early College a priority. “These students learn how to be successful in college and they also save a considerable amount on the cost of their college education. Early College programs address student success and college affordability.”

The Haverhill Early College Program began five years ago, and the first graduates—a group of 18— were recognized in January of 2015.

Parents Argue Haverhill Must Spend More on Schools, Students at Public Hearing

Correction: An earlier version of this story used an incorrect first name for one of the speakers before the School Committee. WHAV regrets the error. No residents opposed the approved $89 million school budget during a public hearing Thursday night, but most appealed for more spending. Haverhill School Committee members heard calls for the city to increase per-pupil spending, better recruit Spanish-speaking teachers and improve building maintenance. Joanna Dix of the Haverhill Education Coalition told members this year’s $4.8 million school budget increase does little more than cover inflation.

Downtown Marijuana Shop Foes Ask Federal Court to Send Case Back to State for Ruling

In yet another tit for tat, property owners seeking to stop the opening of a Washington Street marijuana retailer today asked a federal judge to quickly send the case back to a Massachusetts court. The action before U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs is intended to secure a state Land Court ruling barring the city from going ahead with next week’s special permit hearing on a recreational marijuana shop. The case was brought by J. Bradford Brooks and Lloyd Jennings, trustees of property at 128 Washington St., and Stavros Dimakis, as owner of Mark’s Deli and as a trustee of Railroad Square property. The City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday, June 18 on Caroline Pineau’s request for a special permit to operate her proposed “Stem” shop at 124 Washington St. Represented by both Boston and Washington, D.C., lawyers, Brooks, a former Haverhill city councilor; Jennings; and Dimakis, a candidate for City Council, argue Haverhill’s marijuana retail zones ordinance is illegal under state law because it violates required buffer zones near schools and parks, allows illegal “spot zoning” and is inconsistent with federal law prohibiting the manufacture, distribution, sales or possession of marijuana.

Mayor’s Capital Plan: Two New Schools, Rehab of City Hall with $93.5 Million Borrowing

Two new middle schools paid for without overriding the state’s tax-limiting law and rehab of Haverhill City Hall are among the items in the city’s proposed capital spending plan through 2024. Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini will formally reveal the plan at a special meeting of the Haverhill City Council tonight. In an overview, he warns, the plan is “a fluid document subject to change each year as priorities change and additional information becomes available.”

About $75.8 million is thought to be necessary to repair or replace Albert B. Consentino School, John G. Whittier School and Tilton School and maintain other school buildings. In an email to residents Monday, the mayor said, the city can build the “two new middle schools without an override or a debt exclusion.”

Other large expenses expected are capping the city’s Old Groveland Road landfill, fire station renovations and new trucks, highway department equipment, a replacement dog pound and road and sidewalk repairs. Fiorentini notes he has received about $113 million in construction project requests from various city departments—most of which, he plans to pay most of through $93.5 million in borrowing.

Haverhill Alternative School Graduates Four, Promotes Three After Year of ‘Challenges’

Four graduating high school seniors and three promoted eighth graders won accolades last week from Mayor James J. Fiorentini, Principal John V. DePolo and other teachers and staff of the Haverhill Alternative School. Opening the 18th annual ceremony at Winnekenni Castle, DePolo pointed out students passed standardized tests despite some with “serious academic challenges” and “serious losses in their lives,” concluding: “There isn’t any student here tonight that hasn’t had to face some extremely difficult personal challenges.”

DePolo also hinted at challenges staff faced over a protocol change that saw DePolo and other staff placed on paid leave after restraining students who posed threats to themselves or others. “This year we have had to face some extremely unusual and difficult challenges as a team. For a significant period of time, a major part of our team was unable to be present for our students,” DePolo said. The principal singled out Jessica Wright for her leadership.

Fiorentini Unveils $201 Million Spending Plan; Four Patrolmen Move from Dispatch to Street

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini says his proposed $201 million city budget puts four more police on the street, increases school spending by the amount the superintendent requested and gives the library enough money to win accreditation. The mayor told city councilors last night the police department will drop 10 to 15 officers this year because of retirements. He added, it is difficult to fill the jobs because they city must wait for lists from Civil Service. “I propose that we add four new civilian dispatchers in this budget, allowing us right away—without waiting for Civil Service—to put four police officers back on the street where we need them the most,” Fiorentini said. Haverhill Police Patrolmen’s Association President Rick Welch told WHAV this is the second time the union has agreed to civilian dispatchers.

Motorcyclists Allegedly Terrorize, Flash Gun at Haverhill Woman, 23, in Road Rage Scene

A 23-year-old Haverhill woman was allegedly terrorized by a motorcycle gang—where one member “flashed” a pistol—after a “road rage” incident early Saturday afternoon. Forty-six-year-old Albert Menkello of Malden was arrested by Haverhill Police around 1:30 p.m., Saturday, and charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon and two counts of drug possession. An hour earlier, the Haverhill woman said she was driving along River Street near Westgate Center when she was cut off by four motorcyclists. In Haverhill District Court Monday, Menkello was ordered held without bail, pending a dangerousness hearing this Thursday. Upon arrest, police said, Menkello was found with a 357 magnum Ruger, bullets, brass knuckles, two shanks, several needles, a Xanax pill and five vials of anabolic steroids.