Spending per pupil, 2021
As reported by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) in March 2023, in Fiscal Year 2021 per-pupil spending in Gateway Cities was about 89 percent of the state average. Haverhill school spending per pupil, at 88 percent of the state average was just below Gateway City average. Haverhill came much closer to the median of the Gateway Cities than it has been in recent years. This change may reflect shifting patterns of enrollment and expenses in the pandemic era. For example, Haverhill may have done more than other Gateway cities to maintain service levels as public school enrollment declined. Some Haverhill costs for facilities (e.g., rental of space at St James) may have shifted into the school budget, while such facility costs are generally outside the school operating budget.
- Per-pupil spending fiscal 2021 – Haverhill ranked 303rd out of 398 districts statewide and was 17th among the 26 Gateway cities in per-pupil spendin
Haverhill and other Gateway Cities continue to depend heavily on state funding to support a disproportionate share of the state’s low-income student population.
In FY 2020 Haverhill’s comparatively low per-pupil spending extended across most school district functions, although it spent more than the state average per pupil in categories covering materials, equipment & technology, guidance, counseling, testing, and pupil services. It was furthest behind the state average in administration (at 61%), instructional leadership (at 69%), professional development (at 73%), teachers (at 82%), and insurance and retirement (at 75%).
Measures of school resources
Student/teacher ratios 2020-2021- Haverhill had a greater number of students per teacher at 13.08 compared with similar-income Gateway Cities at 12.39, all Gateway Cities at 12.89, nearby districts at 11.43, and the state average at 12.15.
We can compute a measure to get at teaching resources per student, that is dollars spent on teacher salaries per student. This measure captures the effect of both teacher salaries and class sizes. Haverhill, being both somewhat high on students per teacher and low on teacher salaries, comes in below benchmarks on this measure at about 83 percent of the state average. Teacher salary dollars per student:
- Haverhill: $5,902
- Similar income Gateway Cities:$6,788
- Gateway Cities: $6,353
- Nearby Districts $7,558
- Massachusetts: $7,089
Teacher salaries are difficult to compare for several reasons. One is that market wages may vary with local cost of living and so may be higher near Boston. Another is that salaries are only part of teacher compensation, which may include substantial health and pension benefits, which can differ markedly among cities and contracts over time. Salaries also vary with teacher experience, so districts with more-experienced teachers can be expected to have higher average salaries. The DESE measure of teacher salaries is a simple average of salaries across teachers of all types and experience levels and does not attempt to account for benefits.
Because Haverhill must hire teachers in its local market, it can be useful to compare teacher salaries with surrounding communities. If we look at the adjacent Massachusetts communities that border Haverhill and next-to-adjacent that border those communities. Haverhill teacher salaries as reported by DESE are the lowest and would need to be increased by 11% to meet the average of these nearby communities. This measure, which does not adjust for benefits or teacher experience.
- Average teacher salaries 2011-2021 – DESE reports the show the average teacher salary for Haverhill was at 90 percent of the state average and 92 percent of the average among surrounding school districts. Haverhill’s average teacher salary was lower than all the nearby districts excepting Lawrence and Dracut. The recent teacher contract could help close this gap if other districts do not also have similar increases in the recently more inflationary and tight labor market environment.
Measures of tax burden associated with school spending
Measures of tax burden are imprecise and will vary with the circumstances of the taxpayer — home ownership and value, income, etc. Some sense of the cost of Haverhill schools to local citizens can be gleaned by looking at school spending, less state aid, as a percentage of aggregate household income. This measure, computed from DESE and U.S. Census Bureau data, suggests Haverhill spends about 2.5% of aggregate household income on schools.
Haverhill’s residential tax rate for 2023 was 11.15 compared with the median of similar income Gateway cities of 12.13 and the state median of 13.55.
U.S. Census, American Community Survey, 2011-2015 five-year estimates.
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, School and District Profiles 2019 and earlier, reports on Per Pupil Expenditure, Teacher Salaries, Chapter 70 Aid)