For the past three years Tom Grannemann has been working to get the facts straight about Haverhill schools. His website BenchmarkHaverhillSchools.com has highlighted important statistics on spending and performance in Haverhill schools from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. His work helped bring attention to the misreporting of Haverhill’s dropout rate, the decline in Haverhill per-pupil spending relative to other communities (from #199 in 2008 to #299 in 2017), and variations among schools in class size, spending, and test scores.
Now, Tom seeks to become a School Committee member to bring his insights and analysis directly to the School Committee’s work and deliberations. He believes such a focus on the facts will help guide the School Committee to pinpoint areas that need improvement and identify successes so that they can be replicated across the district. His attention to the facts will promote more effective policies and budgets, improve Haverhill schools for students, and give Haverhill taxpayers better value for their school dollars.
Here are two key facts voters should consider:
Haverhill school spending has lagged behind
In recent years Haverhill has lagged behind other similar-income Massachusetts communities in per-student spending. Tight budgets have resulted from Haverhill’s historically low levy limit imposed by the state under Proposition 2-1/2, from economic conditions related to the 2008 recession; from the Hale Hospital debt and benefit obligations; and by a general “culture of scarcity” promoted by some city leaders. As a result, city taxes and spending are quite low in comparison with similar communities. For schools, this means funding on a per-pupil basis has been well below the average of communities (like Haverhill,) that fall in the upper third of Gateway Cities in median household income.
Haverhill school resources and performance are uneven
Within the Haverhill school system, there are wide variations among schools, among grades, and among classes in resources. We see variation in class sizes, number of support staff, and facilities. We see performance differences that raise questions about whether student needs are well met across the system.
The Superintendent and the School Committee have begun to address these issues in their discussions about the 2020 budget. Decisions about policy and budget need to take account of facts like these in order to serve our whole community well. As a School Committee member, Tom Grannemann, will pursue this focus on facts and results to strengthen Haverhill schools.