St. Mary’s breaks ground on STEM building

Participating in the groundbreaking Wednesday for a new gateway entrance and STEM building at St. Mary’s were, from left; Paul Price, trustee; Bruce Gordon, president, Columbia Construction; William Mosakowski, Chair, Board of Trustees; Glenn Morris, Chair, Building Futures campaign; James Ridley, Principal; Grace Cotter Regan, Head of School; Rev. Brian Flynn, Pastor, St. Mary’s Parish; James Lyle, trustee; Marnie Moore, trustee; Darrin Ball, Building Committee; and Susan Blanchard, trustee.


LYNN — St. Mary’s broke ground Wednesday on a building project that will transform the school’s urban campus and significantly upgrade educational opportunities in critical subjects.

About 50 trustees, administrators, alumni and friends gathered in front of the William F. Connell Center, which opened in 2005, for a ceremonial groundbreaking on a new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) building and a gateway entrance to the school’s campus.

The three-story glass entrance will be built between the Connell and Cardinal Cushing centers, while the new STEM building will be constructed behind the Connell Center. The annex, which houses the St. Mary’s Advancement staff and the parish chapel, will be torn down, beginning around August 1. The chapel will be relocated.

“St. Mary’s has moved with the times into the 21st century,” said Board of Trustees chair William Mosakowski, referencing the school’s 135-year history. “The requirements now are for students to be far better grounded in science. We need this building and we need these programs in order to provide a robust, comprehensive education for our students.”

The building project will be funded through the Building Futures campaign, which to date has raised almost $15 million. Funds raised during the campaign will also provide scholarship support for students, along with academic and extracurricular programming.

“That’s a remarkable feat,” said Grace Cotter Regan, head of school. “This is a wonderful time for Lynn and we are proud to be part of the great developments that are happening in the city.”

Stop playing name game

Glenn Morris, a St. Mary’s alumnus who serves as chair of the Building Futures campaign, said the new entrance to the school will offer benefits in addition to aesthetics.

“Because it will serve as the central entrance point to the entire campus, it will enhance security,” Morris said, adding that when the project is complete, the Connell Center, Cushing Center and new STEM building will all be connected.

The STEM building will include technologically advanced classrooms, labs and makerspaces – areas where students can use their creativity to design, invent, experiment and build.

“One of the hallmarks of St. Mary’s is that it provides a foundation for students that will help them as they go through life,” Morris said. “Today, there is a groundbreaking. Later this summer, we will be installing a foundation.”

The timeline calls for work to be completed in time for the opening of the 2018-19 school year. Design work is being done by CBT Architects of Boston. North Reading-based Columbia Construction Company is the general contractor.

“As we celebrate 135 years, we are literally building the future,” Regan said. “That is a very exciting proposition.”

City seeking student sanctuary


LYNN — The School Committee adopted a policy to protect students from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“It would be bad if we turned our backs on these kids,” said Oscar Ross, who has a daughter in Lynn Public Schools who dreams of being both a police officer and a cook. “If we don’t give them the chance to be what they want to be.”

Mary Sweeney, a retired teacher, said that during her career, students had to worry about getting their homework done.

“I never faced situations of kids being deeply afraid,” said Sweeney. “I think with the issues of immigration and ICE — it’s a reality.”

The panel voted unanimously to adopt a policy that affirms the schools are safe and welcoming sanctuaries for all students, regardless of their immigration status. The document said the resolutions are intended to ensure that all Lynn Public Schools students have the same right to a free, public education and will be treated equally.

“The mission of Lynn Public Schools is to maintain a multicultural school community dedicated to the realization of the full intellectual, physical, social and emotional potential of its students,” reads the resolution. “The city is enriched and strengthened by its diverse cultural heritage, multinational population, and welcoming attitude toward newcomers.”

Committee member John Ford pointed out that while he agreed with where the resolutions were coming from, he believed they were only reaffirming what the district already does. Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham agreed.

“I believe we have welcoming schools and that our teachers are wonderful and welcoming,” said Latham. “We have not had a case where ICE has come into our schools.”

She added that she believes ICE is restricted from taking immigrants into custody at schools and churches.

“Rather than us saying we already do that, we’ll be able to say that we have a policy for that,” said committee member Donna Coppola. “I think it would be a huge reassurance to our students. Let’s be upfront and be what we are — a proud community — and show others that we care.”

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Latham and committee members expressed concerns about a resolution included in the original draft that prohibited federal immigration law enforcement officers, or personnel assisting them, from entering a school building.

“I worry about training teachers not to allow law enforcement to come into the building,” she said.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy added that she was “very uncomfortable” with the section of the resolution because it should be recognized that federal law supersedes local law.

“It seems to me that it’s not a valid exercise of a city’s rights in the presence of federal government,” she said.

The panel amended the resolution to state that law enforcement can enter the building, but must remain in the main office until his or her credentials are verified and the superintendent is notified. The vote will be subject to final approval of the language.

Under the policy, the district will not inquire about, record, or request information intended to reveal the immigration status of a student or their family members. They will not disclose private information without parental consent, and staff will refuse to share all voluntary information with immigration agencies to the fullest extent permissible by the law.

All requests for information from a student’s education record will be immediately forwarded to the School Department’s attorney. The motion also noted that the district does not ask for immigration status when families register children for school.

A letter will be sent to parents and staff summarizing the resolutions in simple language. A list of all available resources, including community-based organizations and legal service organizations, will be provided to each student and made available at each school. It will be translated when necessary. Teachers will be trained on the policy before the start of the school year, when they become familiarized with all other policies.

In the next 90 days, Latham will be expected to develop a plan for training teachers, administrators and other staff on the new policy and best practices for ensuring the wellbeing of students, who may be affected by immigration enforcement actions. The plan will be implemented within five months.Legis

A copy of the resolution will be submitted to the Massachusetts Attorney General and to Lynn’s federal, state, and local legislative representatives.

Bridget Turcotte can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.


School budget sees increase in Lynnfield


LYNNFIELD — There were few surprises in the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 school budget presented last week by Superintendent Jane Tremblay.

The $23,780,038 appropriation request is a 4 percent increase over the current year’s budget. Tremblay said the majority of that increase is due to a 2.5 percent increase in contractual increases coupled with special education costs.

There are no new positions in the budget, but Tremblay is looking to make two part-time positions into full-time positions. One would transform a .6 school psychologist position to full-time, and the second would see a part-time foreign language position at the middle school become full time.

“The budget always comes back to the basics of our mission and vision,” said Tremblay. “All you are hearing tonight is in support of this.”

Tremblay said the goal of the school system is to produce well-rounded students. She noted that Lynnfield’s elementary schools continue to be among the top in the state and that the high school was recently recognized as a College Board AP Honor Roll school.

While there are proposals to increase the two positions, Tremblay said that one classroom will be eliminated at the Summer Street Elementary School.

“The school will remain well within the appropriate class size of the low 20s, and I am confident that we will maintain the integrity of everything that we have in place.”

School committee member Dorothy Presser asked if, in an ideal world, Tremblay would like to see more materials and supplies in the proposed budget.

“Absolutely, but we have to walk a fine line with the budget,” Tremblay said. “The whole process of building a budget has to be reflective of all the resources we have.”

Lynnfield High has goals steeped in Ivy

In other school committee business last week, the board heard from Gregory Hurray, the interim principal at the Summer Street School. Hurray was hired as the interim principal at the school for the remainder of the year following an incident on a METCO school bus in November that led to Jennifer DiBiase’s resignation.

Hurray has had a long career in education, including administrative positions in Newton.

“I’ve had a wonderful career, and working in Lynnfield has been a great way to keep learning,” he said. “I love the school, I love the kids, I love the parents’ support, and the administration has been fantastic.”

While Hurray leads the Summer Street School for the rest of the school year, Tremblay said the search for a permanent principal for the next school is well underway. A committee of administrators, teachers and parents will be interviewing some of the 30 applicants for the position, followed by further interviews and site visits for a select group of semi-finalists.

“We hope that by mid-March, we will be able to name someone to the position,” Tremblay said.