An internal email from Superintendent James F. Scully says there is no “no wiggle room” to accommodate increased enrollments.
Hunking Plan Requires Yet Another $1.1 Million
A Haverhill School Department proposal to open more seats at the new Hunking Middle School for students across the city while at the same time alleviating crowded classrooms at Tilton and Consentino schools will have to be withdrawn if the School Committee balks at adding $1.1 million in new spending next year, according to documents obtained by WHAV.
Superintendent James F. Scully’s spending plan calls for adding 22 new, full-time teaching positions at a cost of $1.1 million. The increase represents a modest hike of about 1.5 percent over this year’s $73.8 million school budget.
The superintendent’s spending proposal, however, shows the district must first increase spending next year by $4.7 million – 6.3 percent – just to offer the same services for students as this year. That increase is comprised of teacher pay increases, energy cost increases and special education spending increases the district is contractually obligated to pay.
This means the district needs a total increase of 7.8 percent—to $78.5 million—to avoid spending cuts and add the new teachers to accommodate the Hunking expansion plan.
This year’s school budget debate begins with new attention and scrutiny on school spending. A recent analysis by economist Thomas Grannemann and a new group called the Haverhill Education Coalition shows Haverhill’s per-pupil spending is among the lowest in the region and among similar urban communities. The report, Benchmark Haverhill Schools, found Haverhill per-pupil spending and student-to-teacher ratios are last among seven similar urban districts reviewed by Grannemann. When it comes to teacher salaries, Haverhill ranked sixth among the seven urban districts Grannemann looked at, and last among 18 neighboring school districts.
“No new programs or technology will be offered until the mayor and (School Committee) approve the additional 1.5 percent (spending in next year’s school budget),” reads an email obtained by WHAV and sent recently by Scully to the district’s principals and senior administrators.
The email goes on to state the superintendent sent it in response to phone calls he has been receiving from parents requesting information on potential new opportunities and programs the district would like to offer, if funding is approved.
“The increase in (district-wide) enrollments and the desire for increased opportunities with the opening of Hunking, allow for no wiggle room without additional funding,” the email continues. “…Make sure the accurate message is relayed when questioned by parents. Please do not raise expectations unless you have the ability to deliver. Without additional funding, I can just barely maintain what we now have.”
The superintendent’s budget proposal shows that, in recognition of the city’s financial constraints, he has already dismissed more than $2 million in new spending requested by principals for additional teachers and academic supplies.