The budget for the Haverhill Public Schools for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year is more than $79 million. Whether you think $79 million is too little, too much or just right, we all can agree that we can never have enough transparency and accountability.
The budget for the 2017-2018 school year increases spending 7.1 percent and by more than $5 million.
Calling for more transparency and accountability is not about accusing anyone of failing to do their job. It is about working together to find ways to use taxpayer dollars more efficiently and to achieve the greatest benefit for our students.
I believe technology is one way to increase transparency and accountability, such as software that allows school administrators, the School Committee, and the public to quickly compare district performance against similar school districts to identify opportunities for efficiency and make sound, data-driven budgetary and policy decisions.
The tools are available to make government more efficient. We owe it to our city's kids, their parents and grandparents, their teachers and taxpayers.
Also, the School Committee should have a more deliberate annual budget process, which should include publication of dates and times of budget workshops seven or more days before the workshops. The proposed budget should be available at least 48 hours before the date of the first workshop. The public should have the ability to ask questions and express concerns at the budget workshops. In 2017, public comment took place after the School Committee had voted to pass the 2017-2018 budget.
The budget workshops also should be televised just as regular School Committee meetings are televised. Not only will televised workshops provide residents who can't make it to the meetings the ability to watch the workshops live, but a digital archive will be available to watch anytime after the meeting.