Superintendent to lobby for full day kindergarten funding
by Becky Harvey
DUDLEY - After an executive session dedicated to the deployment of security personnel within the schools, the Dudley-Charlton Regional District school committee opened their January 9 meeting to the public. The unusually somber meeting was opened with a moment of silence for high school math teacher Cynthia Boyd, who recently passed away. According to Chairwoman, Geraldine Nowicki, Boyd died on Sunday, January 6, after a “brief and courageous battle with cancer.
The first citizen to speak during the Citizen’s Forum, Stefan Sage spoke about the importance of funding and supporting teachers and projects that they undertake. He generously donated two-hundred dollars for the sole purpose of funding student robotic work. All the members of the committee thanked him.
Kristen Castigion then spoke about her concerns for school safety. In light of the tragic events in Connecticut, late last month, she expressed her fears of the unpreparedness of the Heritage School in particular. Superintendent Sean Gilrein answered her question by addressing the fact that school safety is the committee’s number one concern at this time. He assured the public that the committee is working diligently to create a plan to improve school safety on all levels.
Full day kindergarten
Gilrein spoke about the importance of full day kindergarten. He mentioned that in the long run, correcting issues that arise in children who miss out on receiving a full day kindergarten experience is more costly than finding the funding for it. He called full day kindergarten a “necessity.” He also mentioned that it isn’t fair in this day and age, and in this state where our educational system is touted as one of the best, to make parents choose between being able to put food on the table or send their child to a full day of school. Gilrein is lobbying the state for an extension of the grant that has funded the full day program for the past decade.
Gilrein announced that former NBA Celtic player, Chris Herron, will be speaking out about his struggles with drug addiction in an event at the high school. All high school students will have the chance to participate in one of two presentations being given on January 31st at Shepherd Hill. Gilrein is very excited about the opportunity for the students to witness what he calls a fantastic presentation.
Parents express safety concerns
Gilrein again addressed the “horrific events” of Newtown, Connecticut. He noted the turnout by parents, teachers, administrators and police and fire chiefs. Though he sees the event as isolated, he does believe that schools need to be vigilant. He assured the parents that the staffs of the schools, along with the local police, have been creating new plans, which will keep the students and staff of the schools safe. He mentioned that lock-downs and “stay-in-place” alerts will be practiced from here on out as regularly as fire drills. There are prevention mitigation plans in place. All staff will be participating in professional development regarding all safety precautions. Though many of the details of these plans are kept secret, as required by law, Gilrein insured the public that the plans that are being put in place and the measures that are being taken over the foreseeable future will address all concerns of parents and the general public. He made a plea for understanding about the privacy issue. The particulars of the policies and plans are kept under lock-and-key to keep the students and staff safe. If the public were to know all the details of the safety plans, it would put the schools at greater risk because outsiders would be able to find ways to avoid the protocols. Student representative, Kosta Karamanakis, spoke out to reassure the parents that high school and middle school kids know exactly what to do if they are put in an emergency situation. Not comforted by this, one community member said that elementary school kids had no idea what to do. The committee made sure that community members understood that these measures will be practiced. Chairwoman Nowicki reiterated over and again, that these plans are in place and will be practiced. In response to parental outcries, the committee and all of the local police and fire chiefs have agreed to participate in an ad hoc meeting regarding school safety on Thursday, January 17 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at Charlton Middle School. All district parents are invited to attend.
- Wednesday, 16 January 2013