Progress on Chronic Absenteeism

Chronic absenteeism is falling in Haverhill Public Schools, and it is falling faster than in other districts. The evidence is just in for the 2018-19 school year. On September 12, 2019 the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) posted attendance data for Massachusetts school districts. Twelve of seventeen Haverhill schools showed reductions in the percent of students absent 10% or more of school days in 2018-19 compared to the previous school year. Haverhill showed improvement on all five DESE attendance measures, even after adjusting for the inclusion of Silver Hill school in the district for 2018-19. Haverhill showed a larger reduction in chronic absences than the average of benchmark districts and than the state average. Moreover the reductions appeared across all types of students (all, economically disadvantaged, English learner, high needs, students with disabilities), and across all racial ethnic groups (except Asian when had the lowest chronic absence rate).

Overall, the results show improvement toward but not yet to benchmark levels. This progress is no accident. In the past year the district made a concerted effort to reduce chronic absences. Work included broad efforts, such as the Attendance Matters “School Every Day” campaign, as well as more targeted efforts at the school level. Community groups such as the Haverhill Education Coalition and Haverhill Promise are continuing to focus attention on attendance as a key to reading at grade level and academic success. This is an area where Haverhill can continue to make progress to meet and even beat benchmark levels for attendance.  Such progress will require continued efforts by the school district, engagement of student families, and community support.

See a longer presentation.

Chronic absences

Campaign Kickoff Event

We are holding a campaign kickoff event. Wednesday May 29 from 5:30 to 7:00 PM at Casa Blanca Restaurant, 2 Essex Street Haverhill. Please join us if you can, to meet with other supporters, sign my nomination papers, volunteer to have a lawn sign, or just learn a bit about why I am running.

Donations will be accepted, but are not required – no corporate checks.

School Committee Campaign Launch

Today I announce my candidacy for the Haverhill School Committee. I am running on a platform of Facts, Fairness, and Finances. I bring skills to make a difference, with my background in economics, evaluation, and financial management of public programs. I will help Haverhill get more from our school dollars, through greater attention to the school budget process and more effective use of evidence to evaluate what works.

Haverhill schools are vital to the future of our community, but our school district faces important challenges. Many of our school facilities are deteriorating. Our performance scores are often well below those of comparable cities. With high rates of absence, many students are missing opportunities to learn and keep up with their class. Class sizes and resources are uneven across the district. These problems became more acute from 2008 to 2017 as Haverhill’s per-pupil spending dropped from 199th to 299th among 322 districts statewide.

Over the past three years, I have been proud to be a voice for change. As a leader in the Haverhill Education Coalition, I have advocated for a school budget closer to those of comparable cities; and in 2018 I served on the superintendent search screening committee. As a school committee member I will represent the whole Haverhill community – taxpayers, parents, students, and our older residents – and I will be working collaboratively with teachers, administrators, and school staff to achieve results. In the coming months I will reach out to Haverhill voters to discuss our schools and how we can best advance our community priorities.

Applying my skills through public service has been a top priority in my life. In the U.S. Navy I applied my skills in computer science and team leadership as director of the U.S.S. Guam’s data processing division. As an economist and researcher for many years, I evaluated costs and effects of public programs. As an Associate Regional Administrator for Medicare, I oversaw fee-for-service operations in all of New England. And at the White House Office of Management and Budget, I worked to develop the President’s Budgets and to review rules and regulations of the Medicare and Medicaid programs nationally.

Now, in the city I am proud to call home for nearly 23 years, I will apply what I have learned to help improve our public schools. In the coming months I will reach out to let voters know that I stand with those who expect more from Haverhill schools, and that I have the skills and initiative to make a difference through service on the Haverhill School Committee.

I ask for your support. Thank you.

Tom Grannemann