Dr. Thomas Grannemann and Tim Jordan, of the new Haverhill Education Coalition, on the Open Mike Show.
Economist Thomas Grannemann pointed to several lagging measures of Haverhill school performance during 97.9 WHAV’s Open Mike Show Monday night.
Grannemann, joined by Haverhill Education Coalition’s Tim Jordan, presented data showing that Haverhill families with students enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12 have a somewhat lower federal poverty rate than other former industrial cities—known as Gateway cities. However, the average poverty rate is still higher than the state as a whole and higher than similar income communities.
“I think we’re identifying issues that needs to be addressed. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” Granneman said.
The economist also pointed out Haverhill’s student drop-out rate, as measured in four-year peer groups, is generally improving as it is across the Commonwealth, but it is still higher other Gateway and similar income communities. Dollars spent-per-student in Haverhill is also less. Grannemann has compiled these and other statistics at his website, BenchmarkHaverhillSchools.com. While he didn’t suggest specific recommendations, those may come from a forum Wednesday, April 26, 7 p.m., at Hunking School.
Jordan said the event, “Reach Higher: A Haverhill Community Discussion on School Success,” feature Grannemann; Benjamin Forman, MassINC research director; and Lane Glenn, president of Northern Essex Community College. Glenn will moderate a panel discussion on “Improving Haverhill Schools: Objectives, Challenges, and Action Steps.” Panelists include Haverhill School Committee President Gail Sullivan, City Council President John Michitson and Dena Papanikolaou, a Haverhill resident, parent, and legal advocate.
Granneman said Haverhill’s spending-per-student—about $12,301—would need to grow 4.4 percent just to keep up with inflation through 2022, 7.4 percent to match other Gateway cities or 8.5 percent to match similar income communities. While he didn’t suggest how the city would pay for it, Jordan said, one option includes the city raising taxes closer to the voter-mandated Proposition 2 ½ caps.
During the last two years, Haverhill has increased taxes, but less than the maximum. Jordan said the property tax increase for the average homeowner would have been about $20 or $30 if the city had taxed at the maximum allowed.
Open Mike Show host Tim Coco noted some residents may have trouble paying their existing tax bills and are still facing water and sewer increases of up to 50 percent, as some officials have projected.