The Everett School Committee voted to approve a new program to provide former Everett High students who are “over age and under credits” the opportunity to earn their high school diplomas.
Anne Auger, the Everett High School Director of Remote Instruction and Curriculum who presented the program at the Monday Night School Committee meeting on November 15, will be coordinating the effort.
The program offers students who are still under the age of 22 to go back to school on a part-time basis and complete Department of Elementary and Secondary Education-mandated courses.
Auger pointed out that while there are many reasons for students not to complete their high school requirements, two of the most-frequently cited reasons are that newly-arrived students from other countries may not have been able to transfer their studies that they’d already taken or that family obligations have forced students to leave high school to work in the job market full-time.
“A high school diploma is important,” Auger told the School Committee.
All of the School Committee members were positive about the new program.
“I think that this is wonderful,” said at-large committee member Samantha Lambert, who also had questions pertaining to the number of students who can be served in the new program.
Auger noted that there will be three core teachers for students who will work from 1-8 p.m. She is hopeful, given the number of teachers, that between 30-40 students will be able to take part in the program.
“There is some flexibility as to what the students can and cannot do,” Auger added, informing the committee that there will be a system of support for these students that could range from guidance counselors to school nurses to childcare.
Auger also said she feels that the program can be widened to offer support to help students before they officially drop out of high school.
The new classrooms will be located at the Devens School, where there are available classrooms and the availability for on-line courses.
“We are starting from bare-bones, “ Auger told the committee.
Lambert said she was hoping to rename the program from Alternative Pathway for Dropout Prevention to something more positive without the use of the word “dropout.”
There is hope that this program can also expand into the current GED program that helps students get a high school diploma after they turn 22 years old.
In other business, the committee members approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Everett Public Schools and the Everett Police Department for School Resources Officers (SRO).
Police Chief Steven Mazzie noted that a new MOU is being written at the state level by a commission, but the one that the School Committee voted on Monday night already had much of the new language contained in it and was “much more robust.”
Mazzie pointed out that there is a “lot of misinformation” about the program. “We are not here to arrest students,” Mazzie said. As proof of that statement, the chief pointed out that in the past four years, there have been only a handful of arrests of students in that time frame.
“We are thoughtful of who is in the SRO,” he said.
Lambert asked about the type of training that an SRO must complete.
Mazzie said that the training period for the SRO position usually takes about a week.
“We tailor the training to modern times,” he added. “A lot of the younger officers reflect who we are in Everett.”
Mazzie told the committee that the prime objective of the SRO is to seek compliant resolutions. He also noted that people do not have to go to the police station to make a complaint, but can go directly to the SRO.
School Committee member Millie Cardello asked about reaching out to families, noting that there are many families who are afraid to ask for help.
Mazzie reiterated that the goal of the SRO is to focus on dispute resolution, as well as mental health issues.
Superintendent Priya Tahiliani talked about the Refresh Program internship program where five EHS students are able to work along with the SRO. Presently, more than 80 students have applied for this internship program, Mazzie noted.
Angela Ciurmaglia, who viewed the meeting, added, “SROs are a tremendous asset to our team.”
In other business, Tahiliani noted that thus far there have been 129 new hires in the public schools for the current school year. However, there are still 24 openings and the new hires predominantly were used to fill retirement positions.
In COVID news, there were 12 confirmed cases for the period from November 1-12, while in the month of October there were 52 confirmed cases. City Year volunteers have put up new murals for the students at the Whittier School and Keverian School. The murals measure eight feet by four feet. The Whittier School mural is a series of waves with positive messages and the Keverian School mural is a Knight in Armor