Haverhill School Turnaround Expert Antkowiak to Become Chief of Teaching, Learning and Leading

The principal widely credited for turning around Haverhill’s Tilton School, will be sharing her expertise districtwide when she becomes chief of Teaching, Learning and Leading next week. Bonnie Antkowiak, who took charge of turning around scores and outcomes at Tilton School five years, ago was named to the post last week by Superintendent Margaret Marotta. Marotta tells WHAV Antkowiak has achieved successes at other schools too. “Bonnie has been a respected principal in Haverhill for, gosh, 20 years now. She has worked in multiple, multiple schools.

Haverhill School Committee Asks State to COVID-19-Related Costs; Resolves to End Racism

The Haverhill School Committee wants state leaders to know they expect the Commonwealth to pay added the added COVID-19-related costs of reopening schools. They also reminded themselves and all other school districts that racist practices must be eradicated. Members approve the two resolutions, proposed by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, at last Thursday’s meeting. Quoting from the first resolution, Committee Vice Chairman Richard J. Rosa said “it is the responsibility of the state to ensure that each school district is able to pay for the enormous additional staffing, transportation and material expenses required” for school reopening. “Whereas the state cannot expect mandatory COVID-19 safety guidelines to be followed without also ensuring that each school district has the funds to implement these guidelines, the state must guarantee every school district full reimbursement for whatever COVID-19 expenses are required to follow state mandates,” Rosa read.

Haverhill School Committee Approves $91.6 Million Budget; Rules Out Maintenance Change

Although there were a few questions and proposals made, the Haverhill School Committee unanimously passed the $91.6 million 2020-2021 school budget at last night’s meeting. The process began with an online public hearing and hour before the regular meeting. Interest however, was limited to just two residents, Joanna Dix and Thomas Grannemann, the president and vice-president respectively of the Haverhill Education Coalition. In both cases they gave high marks to the school administration and the School Committee for creating a reasonable budget under difficult circumstances. During the regular meeting, Haverhill Education Association President Anthony Parolisi also praised the budget outcome considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

State Outlines Plan to Bring Students Back to Schools; Returning Could Address Isolation, Well Being Risks

Allowing hundreds of thousands of K-12 students to resume learning in school buildings this fall will improve educational outcomes, relieve pressure on families and boost supports for the state’s most vulnerable children, Baker administration officials said as they unveiled a back-to-school framework Thursday. The new guidance from state leaders instructs districts to prepare for in-person education to resume after the summer with a range of new COVID-19 safety protocols, from space requirements between desks to mandatory face coverings for most students, that will alter the school environment in ways not previously contemplated. To be ready for different scenarios, districts were also instructed to plan hybrid and fully remote models, and while the trajectory of the outbreak remains unclear amid spikes in some of the nation’s largest states, Gov. Charlie Baker and his deputies stressed the importance of bringing students back into classrooms.

“In developing the back-to-school plans, the department and our administration considered not only the risks associated with COVID-19 for in-person schooling, but also the risks associated with continuing to keep students out of the classroom,” Baker said at a press conference. “Continued isolation poses very real risks to our kids’ mental and physical health, and to their educational development.”

The new framework the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education outlined Thursday explicitly targets bringing back “as many students as possible” to in-person settings for the fall as a statewide goal. On March 17, school buildings abruptly closed as the outbreak hit Massachusetts in full force, and students spent the rest of the academic year learning virtually—a model that highlighted wide gaps in access to technology and added strain to parents, as well as some students and educators.

Haverhill Schools Continue Bagged Lunch Program This Summer at Six Locations

Haverhill Public Schools continues bagged student meals distribution this summer at six sites around the city. Meals are available to any Haverhill child up to 18 years old and children do not have to be enrolled as a public schools’ student. Five of the six distribution sites will continue this summer. They are Haverhill YMCA, 81 Winter St., Dr. Paul Nettle Middle School, 150 Boardman St., Consentino Middle School, 685 Washington St., Hunking School, 480 S. Main St, and John Greenleaf Whittier School, 256 Concord St. In addition, Haverhill High School, 137 Monument St., will continue grab-n-go meals.

Haverhill School Committee Advances $91.6 Million‘Needs-Based’ Spending Plan

The Haverhill School Committee got its first look Monday at the administration’s proposed $91.6 million education budget. Because the state has yet to make clear what cities in the Commonwealth can expect to receive in Chapter 70 education money next year, the administration is assuming level funding from the state and planned accordingly. School Superintendent Margaret Marotta says the budget looks at the big picture and doesn’t merely add a percentage, for example. “We are continuing to use a needs-based budget. We feel that student-based budgeting and starting from zero every year, looking at what our kids need and what our schools need, so we have to kind of pull it all back every year and we have to be nimble.

Haverhill’s L’Arche Boston North Among Those Receiving UMass Lowell Face Coverings

Community organizations throughout the Merrimack Valley are receiving donations of face masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19, thanks to a UMass Lowell volunteer initiative to make and distribute the personal protective equipment. The Face Coverings for the Community Campaign has enlisted volunteers including UMass Lowell students, staff, alumni and others to produce the items. The effort has already provided close to 4,000 face masks for more than 15 community service organizations throughout the region, including L’Arche Boston North in Haverhill, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell, Lowell Community Health Center and Lowell Senior Center. Tom O’Donnell, UMass Lowell’s senior director of innovation initiatives, said, “As the COVID-19 crisis deepened, we quickly rallied our UMass Lowell Innovation Hub and Fashion Makerspace teams to repurpose existing equipment, personnel and financial resources to rapidly design, fabricate and distribute the face coverings to respond to the growing need within the Greater Lowell community. By making these items functional, fashionable, comfortable and re-usable, we know we’re having a positive impact, which makes it all worthwhile.”

The initiative is a collaboration between UMass Lowell’s Community Relations, the university’s Fashion Makerspace, directed by Diana Coluntino, and the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub. Beyond its work on the face coverings project, the makerspace is helping to pioneer next-generation, smart clothing and textiles as part of UMass Lowell’s Fabric Discovery Center at the Innovation Hub.

Merrimack Valley Credit Union Presents $15,000 in College Scholarships to Area High School Grads

Merrimack Valley Credit Union recently awarded $15,000 in college scholarships to 15 high school students from its field of membership both north and south of Boston. Students were honored during a virtual ceremony June 8, where they celebrated with family and members of Merrimack Valley Credit Union’s senior management team. Over the past four years, Merrimack Valley Credit Union has awarded 36 students with nearly $45,000 in scholarships to pursue higher education. Merrimack Valley Credit Union President and CEO John Howard, said “The scholarship recipients were selected because of their commitment to education and to their community both in and out of school. While many had to modify how they demonstrated that commitment in the past few months—through remote learning and finding other ways to help in the community—we are confident that the flexibility and resiliency they have shown these past few months will prove useful not only in college, but also in their careers.”

The organization received 178 applications from students at 66 different high schools located across the two regions.