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Leaders to Outline Top Options for New School

posted Sep 21, 2019, 3:57 PM by Maria Puglisi

Two Sites Chosen for School

posted Sep 18, 2019, 3:36 PM by Maria Puglisi

Why Should Gloucester's Schools Be Consolidated?

posted Sep 14, 2019, 12:42 PM by Maria Puglisi

Three Site Options Top List for New School

posted Sep 14, 2019, 12:38 PM by Maria Puglisi

New Schools: A Thankless job

posted Sep 8, 2019, 11:24 AM by Maria Puglisi

Resource officer starts at O’Maley

posted Aug 1, 2019, 10:33 AM by Maria Puglisi   [ updated Sep 8, 2019, 11:12 AM ]

$1.3M project planned for safer entries at middle school, GHS

By Ray L amont Staff Writer

Students returning to Gloucester’s classrooms Wednesday for the first day of their new school year will find new measures in place to enhance their safety. And more may be on the way.

O’Maley Innovation Middle School will begin the year for the first time with its own full-time school resources officer. Gloucester police Patrol Officer Peter Sutera will expand a role he began covering on a part-time basis last January, city and school officials said Tuesday.

Also, the city is looking at an estimated $1.3 million renovation of the entrances to O’Maley and to Gloucester High School to develop multi-lock entry and security systems that would provide more protection in the event that the schools’ students and staffers were confronted with an active shooter.

“School safety is not just about capital projects and the buildings,” said James Destino, the city’s chief administrative officer. “It’s about training, it’s about fire safety awareness. It’s about teachers, it’s about employees and administration. It’s about all aspects of protecting our schools from violence — that means, bullying,

threats. But this (entrance renovation project) would also be an important step.”

Destino said the city has met with representatives of Newburyport-based Dore & Whittier Architects about designing such a project. He said that, if the work is funded by the City Council, it could be carried out next summer, with a goal of having the new security measures in place for the start of classes in 2020.

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‘There to build relationships’

Sutera begins as a full-time resource officer at O’Maley immediately when Gloucester High, O’Maley and the five elementary schools welcome back first through 12th-graders on Wednesday. Gloucester’s kindergarten and preschool classes begin on Monday. A new year of classes in the Rockport and Manchester Essex Regional schools began last week. .

Sutera essentially joins Michael Scola, who returns as resource officer at Gloucester High. For the past six years, the city had a single officer based at the high school and who would rotate to the other schools when needed. The two posts are being funded to the tune of $60,000 each through the fiscal 2020 administrative and school budgets.

Police Chief Edward Conley said he has long been a strong backer of having resource officers in schools, noting that many residents and even some school personnel and students often misunderstand their purpose.

“People sometimes see it as they’re being there to catch the kids doing something wrong, when nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “They’re there to build relationships with the kids that can last a long time. They’re there to be mentors.”

He said an officer’s presence at the middle and high schools can be especially effective.

“That’s the age where the kids often need somebody they can confide in,” he said. He noted that, in the aftermath of the Parkland shootings, Gloucester High students were able to approach Scola and “feel very confident and comfortable talking to the officer about (their concerns about a potential incident here.)”

Making students feel safe

Superintendent Richard Safier said he and other school officials have been meeting with Conley, fire Chief Eric Smith and other officials over the summer to review and update school emergency management plans. “We’ve been solidifying our incident command structure. In other words, who’s in charge, and how do

we make sure all the information is gathered into one room if there is an emergency,” Safier said. “If it’s a fire, then the Fire Department would serve as incident commander; if it’s something like a bomb threat, it would be the police. It’s all about knowing who the point person would be and making certain that person has that the information needed so that good judgments can be formulated in response.”

The steps are the latest in a series of security changes carried out by the city in recent years. All city elementary schools have surveillance, Destino noted, and all city schools are equipped with buzzer entry alerts that connect with the main office. The elementary schools also have interior classroom door locks if the need arises for a “shelter-in-place” scenario. There are 28 surveillance cameras throughout the Gloucester High building and O’Maley has 22 after some were added to cover the school’s hallways prior to the start of the last school year.

Safier said the addition of the O’Maley resource officer and the planned entrance renovations at the high school and middle school are important steps in ensuring that students feel safe and secure in their learning environments. They come in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, high school shootings. A 19-year-old former student left 17 people dead last Valentine’s Day in that incident.

Two weeks later, Gloucester police Lt. Michael Gossom, speaking to the School Committee, acknowledged that local police had carried out a number of interviews at Gloucester High after some students and others expressed concerns about the potential for such an event being carried out here.

“These are the kinds of modifications that are really called for in today’s safety environment,” Safier said.

“Times are changing, and the psychological piece (through safety concerns) can weigh heavily on students as well,” Safier said. “We want the kids to be as safe as possible so they don’t need to think about it.”

Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705, or rlamont@gloucestertimes. com.

Forum to Outline Options for New East Gloucester School

posted Jun 16, 2019, 3:37 PM by Maria Puglisi

Residents looking to learn more about potential sites for a new East Gloucester school will get their chance Monday night at a Ward 1 community meeting hosted by City Councilor Scott Memhard at City Hall.  Memhard, who represents the city’s easternmost ward, will host a forum bringing together members of the School Committee, the East Gloucester School Building Committee, and representatives of the project’s designer and project manager — Newburyport- based Dore & Whittier Architects — who will offer presentations regarding options for the three primary sites being eyed for addressing the city’s school needs.  While the School Committee has endorsed the idea of a new school that would essentially merge the student populations of East Gloucester and Veterans Memorial elementary schools, Dore & Whittier’s presentation includes options, as required by the Massachusetts School Building Authority, for renovating the existing East Gloucester school.  Local school officials are focusing on three sites for a new school — the existing East Gloucester site, the existing Veterans location, and a portion of the Green Street field. Of those, only the East Gloucester school sits in Ward 1, but Veterans is essentially on the borderline between Wards 1 and 2 and serves, as Memhard notes, as a Ward 1 polling place.  Memhard emphasized that the forum is open to all.  The forum is set to run from 6 to 8 p.m., Monday, June 17, in Kyrouz Auditorium at City Hall, 9 Dale Ave.

East Gloucester Building Project Update - 05/28/19

posted May 29, 2019, 9:13 AM by Maria Puglisi   [ updated Aug 1, 2019, 10:32 AM ]

Student Government Day

posted May 28, 2019, 2:59 PM by Maria Puglisi   [ updated May 28, 2019, 2:59 PM ]

GHS students get an inside look at government

By Ray Lamont Staff Writer

More than two dozen Gloucester High School students are getting a close-up look at the city’s government Tuesday through the resurrection of what is supposed to be an annual project, but had lapsed in recent years.

City and school officials have brought back Gloucester’s Student Government Day, and – as of Saturday – 25 students had signed up to follow Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Chief Administrative Officer James Destino, city councilors, department heads, School Committee members and others Tuesday as they carry out their duties across the city.

The students will, among other things, be sitting in on management meetings, attending Gloucester District Court proceedings, be in on a Massachusetts School Building Authority building committee meeting, and then attend a pre-council meeting reception with their parents and friends and the regular biweekly City Council meeting slated for 7 p.m. in CIty Hall’s Kyrouz Auditorium.

The reception, which is open to the public, will run from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m., with cookies and cider on the table for refreshments. The students will then open the council meeting by leading the pledge of allegiance and spotlight for councilors and audience members what they learned throughout the day.

Ward 4 Councilor Val Gilman – who served on the organizing committee for the event with fellow councilor Jen Holmgren, City Clerk Joanne Senos,Superintendent of Schools Richard Safier, GHS Principal James Cook and Gloucester High School history teacherRich Francis – said the rejuvenation of Student Government Day is tied, in part, to following a provision in the city’s

charter that calls for it to be presented annually.

But it also focuses on evolving civic education programs in Gloucester’s schools, Gilman noted. Safier added that the Grade 8 program at O’Maley Innovation Middle School, which previously focused on World History, is now a full year of civics, aligned with and culminating with a student trip to Washington, D.C.

Gilman – who also praised Romeo Theken for supporting the project and encouraging city officials to accept thestudents and participate – said she hopes the program will once again be held each year.

“Going forward,” she said, “we hope to make Student Government Day an annual event which will also include a mock city council meeting of GHS students deliberating and voting on an important city issues of interest.”

Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705, or via email at rlamont@ gloucestertimescom.

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