State aid based on misleading school enrollment figures to ‘cut short’ Haverhill by $ 2 million


A formula the state uses to determine how much money public schools should receive in aid next year leaves Haverhill short of more than $ 2 million.

The Haverhill School committee agreed last week to ask Governor Charlie Baker to adjust the formula after member Richard J. Rosa noted that it is based on the number of students enrolled in the previous year. He explained that the measurement is wrong because it is artificially low due to the coronavirus.

“Basically what is happening is that we are going to be asked at some point – the school committee – to adopt a budget that we know will not be sufficient to accommodate the few hundred students. or more who will return to the district in September, ”he explained.

Typically, the statewide student population fluctuates by about 1%. Statewide public school enrollment fell about 3.3% last year, down by more than 30,000 students, but most students are expected to return next year .

In Haverhill, enrollment has fallen by 264 students this year, with kindergartens accounting for more than a third of the drop. Rosa says a more realistic number would be achieved using the 2019 student enrollment figures.

“A district like Haverhill really needs this money and we’re cheated using these numbers from October 1, 2020. I just think it’s important for people to know that if we use those numbers we’re going to lose $ 2 million. “, did he declare.

Rosa pointed out that the state’s budget plan also uses these same deflated enrollment figures to calculate additional funds from the Student Opportunities Act and that urban districts like Haverhill need this money to close the gaps. of success. He said that even fully funded schools will have additional budget problems next year due to the toll the pandemic has taken on students, families and educators.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini said the revelation answered a question he asked.

“I wondered how the state was going to dramatically increase spending by funding the Student Opportunity Act when their income was taking a hit. Now we know. Everything is just a sleight of hand. They use different numbers, ”said the mayor.

Rosa presented a letter he planned to send to Gov. Charlie Baker asking him to use the October 1, 2019 enrollment figures to determine next year’s Chapter 70 state aid. He told the committee that he would also send copies to Secretary of State for Education James A. Peyser, Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley, Senate Speaker Karen E. Spilka and the Legislative Delegation of the ‘Haverhill State.

The full letter appears below.

Dear Governor Baker,

I am writing to express my concern about how your FY2022 (FY22) budget allocates Chapter 70 money using October 1, 2020, public school enrollment, and to urge you and the legislature Massachusetts, to fund Chapter 70 based on student populations on October 1. 2019, for school districts that experienced a decline in student numbers during the pandemic.

Enrollment in Massachusetts public schools fell by more than 30,000 students – about 3.3% – in 2020, according to an analysis by the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS). Typically, the statewide student body fluctuates by about 1%, more or less, reports MASS. Massachusetts superintendents believe most of those 30,000-plus students will return to public schools next year.

In Haverhill, where enrollment increased by approximately 1,000 between the 2012-2013 school year and the 2019-2020 school year, enrollment fell by 264 students in 2020-2021 for Chapter 70 purposes. Kindergarten accounted for over a third of the decline in students at Haverhill.

Based on a preliminary financial analysis of Haverhill Public Schools (HPS), HPS stands to lose over $ 2 million in Chapter 70 funds if the FY22 budget uses 2020 enrollment figures. 2021 artificially low. Your budget uses the same deflated enrollment figures to calculate Student Opportunity Act (SOA) funds. Urban districts like Haverhill, which need funding the most to close the achievement gaps, will be unfairly underestimated using the October 1, 2020 enrollment figures.

Since Chapter 70 funding does not reflect the expected increase in enrollment, HPS (along with Commonwealth Superintendents and School Boards) unfortunately have to create a budget for FY 22 which we know does not. will not serve the hundreds of additional students who will return to our schools.

The pandemic has taken its toll on students, families, educators and school staff. Superintendents and school committees are understandably concerned about a long list of challenges anticipated next year, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Kindergartens will enter first grade behind students in pre-pandemic years, making it even more difficult to close the early literacy gap.
  • Many students will need a full range of socio-emotional, mental health and personalized supports to recover from disruptions in their academic and personal lives.
  • English language learners are likely to experience delays in language acquisition.
  • Students in special education will need services to counter the decline in learning skills and knowledge and may need compensatory services.
  • Educators will need support and training to recognize student needs and direct students to the appropriate support systems put in place by school districts.
  • Districts will need to invest more in family engagement, interpreters and translators.

School districts need adequate funding for smaller class sizes, interventionists, college programs, adjustment counselors, specialists, nurses, and other staff. The loss of learning – especially among our most vulnerable student populations – is severe, and funding for the return and restoration of public education must accurately reflect the needs of the state. We absolutely cannot underestimate the number of students in our schools.

Once again, I urge you and the Massachusetts legislature to fund Chapter 70 (and SOA) based on registrations as of October 1, 2019. Doing otherwise will have a lasting detrimental effect on Haverhill’s children and children. of the Commonwealth.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini, my school committee colleagues and Superintendent Dr. Margaret Marotta have added their names (listed below) in support of this letter. Thank you, Governor, for your consideration and dedicated service to the residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


Richard J. Rosa, Esq.
Member, Haverhill School Committee

Mayor James J. Fiorentini
President, Haverhill School Committee

Scott Wood, Jr.
Vice-President, Haverhill School Committee

Paul A. Maggliocchetti, Esq.
Member, Haverhill School Committee

Maura Ryan-Ciardiello
Member, Haverhill School Committee

Gail Sullivan
Member, Haverhill School Committee

Toni Sapienza-Donais
Member, Haverhill School Committee

Dr Margaret Marotta
Superintendent, Haverhill Public Schools


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