hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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June 13, 2013

Payout for principals blocked

Two were in line for inflated retirement packages until questions raised

(Continued)

Mayor James Fiorentini credited Wood and Toohey with saving the district $26,000 — a little less than half a year’s teacher salary.

After the principal pay issue was resolved, the School Committee debated the $90.5 million budget proposal and eventually passed it unanimously with several changes.

The biggest change was the committee’s cut of $1.1 million in special education spending. The cuts, mainly teacher aide positions, are part of a planned reorganization of the special education department, Scully told the committee.

Committee members said they were comfortable eliminating the aides because the move is not expected to impact class sizes.

The spending cuts were also needed to make up for prior estimates by school officials of health insurance-related cost increases that turned out to be low, Scully said.

The school transportation request was also reduced by $200,000 in a deal worked out by Fiorentini and Scully. The School Department was looking for an extra $500,000 next year to improve and expand school bus routes, but the mayor would support only $300,000 more.

Fiorentini also put $200,000 under his control into a special school reserve that cannot be tapped without the approval of City Council. That money is part of $600,000 in federal Medicaid reimbursements that has traditionally been given to the schools.

Several committee members objected, but the mayor said he set up the reserve because the committee would not do it on its own.

Overall, the school budget is up about $4.3 million or about 5 percent, most of which comes from state aid money.

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