EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


October 27, 2013

Five vie to lead schools at key time

Candidates to fill 3 committee seats as city faces school construction issue


“The first major issue that I believe should be important to anyone seeking a (School Committee) seat is the construction of a new Hunking School because if that is not accomplished, it will educationally devastate the city,” Scully said.

“Those students will be crammed into classrooms across the city that are already at their limit,” he said of the risk of not building a new school and having to move Hunking students to other schools.

Two years ago, the city discovered structural deterioration that threatened to collapse part of the Hunking. Repairs have been made, but the building can be used for only a few more years, forcing Haverhill to build a new school, officials have said. The city is seeking state money to cover most of the construction cost. Local taxpayers are expected to go to the polls early next year to decide whether to pay Haverhill’s share of the project.

Scully said a second major issue facing the School Department is continuing with positive steps taken in the past three years that have improved the academic and athletic achievements of Haverhill students.

“We need positive support from our elected officials with respect to academic improvement and the recruitment of energetic and forward-moving staff members,” Scully said. “We have good momentum going on now, and that needs to be sustained. The positive changes we are seeing have generated over 200 new students (joining Haverhill schools) since June, and our athletic achievements are being recognized with conference championships and the like.”

Most candidates said the biggest educational issues facing Haverhill include construction of a new school to replace the Hunking and improving student performance on standardized testing, such as MCAS.

“We have 400 students being schooled in an inappropriate environment,’’ Sierpina said of the Hunking. “We as taxpayers cannot put any more money into this building.’’

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