HAVERHILL — Fifteen students from Haverhill whose parents are concerned about the poor condition of one of the city's middle schools and its uncertain future are transferring into the Pentucket Regional School District.
The students will be enrolled in schools in West Newbury under the state's school choice law, which allows them to transfer there if seats are available.
The parents of the students said their children have had positive experiences with Haverhill teachers, but concerns about Hunking Middle School's deteriorated condition made them choose to move, Haverhill Superintendent James Scully said.
The students, who have either already transferred to the Pentucket district or have told Haverhill officials they are leaving for West Newbury at the end of the school year, are from Bradford Elementary School in Haverhill. Bradford Elementary students move on to the nearby Hunking School after the fifth grade.
The student exodus will cost Haverhill as much as $475,000 in state money, Scully said. That is how much the city would have received in total for the 15 students' education if they attended Haverhill schools through the 12th grade, Scully said. Haverhill receives $5,000 per student annually from the state, he said.
Hunking's north wing was closed in October over fears it could collapse, requiring the entire sixth grade to be moved to the former Bartlett School on the other side of the Merrimack River. Several Hunking teachers have complained of rashes and illnesses they believe were caused by poor air or something else in the building.
Parents of Hunking students have raised concerns about the faltering school, including its impact on local real estate values and the overall reputation of the school system, Scully said.
"The comment I have heard over and over again regarding Hunking is the dissatisfaction of parents who want their child in a decent and appropriate middle school setting," Scully said. "They see the Hunking situation as a major impediment to the school system and to the future growth of this city."