hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

News

October 4, 2012

School chief: Buildings 'jam packed' with pupils

New Bradford school would ease overcrowding

(Continued)

An additional classroom has also been added this year to serve all-day kindergarten students at Bradford Elementary School. About 25 students who would normally attend Bradford for kindergarten take buses across town to attend the Crowell Kindergarten Center because there are simply not enough classrooms at Bradford Elementary.

“We’re using every room and every closet,” Stanley said. “We don’t even currently have a conference room available, so we have conferences wherever we can find space.”

There are currently 1,590 special needs children in the system. That number includes students who only are in special needs part-time, such as those who take extra reading classes and those who are in special needs classrooms the majority of the day. In 2009, there were 1,470 special education students in Haverhill public schools. In that same time span, the number of students overall has only risen slightly, from 6,847 in 2009 to 7,112 this school year.

The result is larger regular classes, especially in the upper grade levels. Scully said class sizes in those grades range from 26 students to as many as 30. He said he would like to see that number decrease to an average of 25 students.

Whittier Middle School in particular has seen a sharp rise in students in recent years. in 2009, the school had 469 students. This year, it is at 501 students.

In the lower grades, the average class size is between 21 and 23 students, a number Scully said he is pleased with.

The squeeze in Bradford Elementary School could get even tighter, with the proposal of new nearby housing developments that could bring as many as 92 more students to the area, officials said.

All concerns about overcrowding could be eliminated if a new elementary/middle school is built. The school, which would eliminate the Greenleaf Elementary and Hunking Middle schools, would likely serve students who are currently attending Bradford Elementary as well.

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