School Committee Advances Plan to Turn St. James into Middle School, Relocate Some Kindergartens

Haverhill’s school superintendent received a preliminary go-ahead last night to continue studying whether St. James School should be used for grades 4-6 and a related plan to relocate some kindergarten programs.
School Committee members, meeting at a “Budget Workshop” at UMass Lowell’s iHub, heard rationales for using St. James to reduce overcrowded classrooms at four other middle schools. Superintendent Margaret Marotta explained the idea is only a short-term solution. “One of the assumptions is that in the next three to four years, we will be rebuilding or adding on to Consentino School and having more room at the school,” she said.

Moody Preschool Director Discusses Kindergarten Readiness at March 12 Q&A

Moody Preschool Director Kristi-Lynn Craig aims to make Haverhill parents aware of what’s necessary before sending children off to kindergarten during a March 12 meeting of the Haverhill Special Education Parent Advisory Council at Haverhill High School. The 6 p.m. session also features a discussion on how parents with special needs children can organize materials relating to individual education programs or IEPs. Next Tuesday’s session takes place in room K-17 of Haverhill High School, 137 Monument St. Guests are asked to park in one of the front lots and enter through the main entrance and take the elevator to the second floor.

Plan to Reduce Classroom Sizes Could Convert St. James to Middle Grades, Repurpose Small Schools

Editor’s Note: As noted below, Superintendent Margaret Marotta declined to provide details of a proposed reorganization. However, School Committee members insisted this morning that no school buildings will be “closed,” per se, but they may not house the same types of student classes they do today. Kindergarten classes, for example, may be relocated to other buildings. This updated version reflects that view. An attempt to reduce Haverhill classroom sizes could see St.

UMass President Meehan: ‘Online College’ for Adults Could Ease Current Financial Squeeze

University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan laid out a plan on Monday to create a new “online college” for adult students that he said could become the system’s bulwark against increasing financial pressures on college campuses caused by competition for fewer college-aged students. The State House News Service quotes Meehan, in his annual speech to state leaders and the university community, as saying that in the coming months he would be meeting with senior officials and faculty on all five of the university’s campuses to plan a “new online college focused solely on adult learners.” He hopes the online college will gain a national profile. The college, as described by Meehan, will offer degree completion programs, “rapid response” to workforce demand and customized credential programs for employers. Meehan said he presented the university board of trustees last fall with a model for the online college that would “allow us to rapidly scale this platform through strategic partnerships, while implementing best practices in digital education for adult learners.” The revenue generated from the online programs will be returned to the campuses, he said. UMass Lowell currently holds criminal justice, business administration and psychology courses at a Haverhill satellite campus at Harbor Place, 2 Merrimack St.

State Dept. of Ed. Visiting Haverhill Next Week to Assess Special Education Programs, Student Rights

Representatives from the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plan to visit Haverhill next week for a regularly scheduled assessment of the district that happens once every six years. In an effort to monitor compliance with federal and state English learner education laws, civil rights and special education programs, the DESE group plans to visit most, but not all, of Haverhill’s schools. In addition to auditing classes and interviewing teachers, the state agency intends to conduct parent surveys and interviews, DESE spokeswoman Jackie Reis told WHAV. This month’s visit follows one in 2013, after which a three-member panel issued a report of findings and action items to then-Superintendent James F. Scully. Findings at the time included the lack of appropriate certification for social workers, guidance counselors, nurses and other service providers across the district.

PHOTOS: HHS Students, Local Leaders Mark Read Across America Day at City Schools

City children had a set of very special guest readers at their schools Friday when Mayor James J. Fiorentini, City Councilors, School Committee members and local leaders read stories to mark the national Read Across America Day. Organizer Sarah Emilio tells WHAV 110 Haverhill High School students were among those who fanned out to 11 city schools to read to 2,000 elementary students on what would have been the 115th birthday of Dr. Seuss. As Emilio explains, the day of volunteerism allows Hillies to pay it forward. “The students at Haverhill High are always excited to participate in this day and connect with their elementary counterparts, giving back to the students what others had for them when they too were elementary students in Haverhill Public Schools,” Emilio told WHAV. Students were aided in the effort by members of the Haverhill Exchange Club and the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, Emilio said.

Haverhill Superintendent Warns Parents of Viral ‘Momo Challenge’ Targeting Kids

Haverhill Public Schools officials are aware of the now-viral “momo challenge” making the rounds on YouTube and social media, with Superintendent Margaret Marotta telling parents this week the district is renewing measures to encourage online safety. In her letter to parents, Marotta discussed the challenge—in which a character pops up harmless programs like cartoons and suggests self-harm—and is fully aware “children in Haverhill are frightened” by the message. YouTube and Whatsapp, two places online where content is said to be included, have denied such material exists. Unverified reports suggest the momo figure—a woman with bulging eyes—has appeared in videos featuring popular kid-friendly character Peppa Pig. “Our staff is aware of this trending issue and we are working to ensure your children will not be exposed to any reference to this disturbing challenge in school,” Marotta said.

TEACH Parent Rebuffs Former Haverhill Educator’s Claims

A former Haverhill Public Schools special needs teacher, who resigned from his job in order to highlight mistreatment of elementary aged children, spoke out again at Thursday night’s School Committee meeting. Timothy Walsh, of Effingham, N.H., stepped down after three years at the Therapeutic Education Assessment Center of Haverhill—known as TEACH—in order to bring attention to what Walsh called “abuse” of special needs students. Walsh, whose students are on the autism spectrum disorder, claimed that his concerns were being ignored by the new administration of St. James School. Last night, Walsh told the School Committee that he remains unsatisfied that his questions regarding the treatment of his students have gone unanswered by the district.