Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi said he hopes to bring new social worker to the district by August 1.
By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
SAUGUS — The School Department wants to provide support for students before and after the bell rings.
In addition to filling two administrative positions by the end of the month, Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi said he hopes to bring two new social workers to the district to focus on issues outside of the confines of the school buildings.
“They would provide more wrap-around services for our most needy, social-emotional kids and families,” said DeRuosi. “If we had a crisis over the weekend, we could have someone ready to go Sunday to go visit the family and see what the child needs before he or she comes back to school. It’s an innovative model. If we could pilot it and make it work here, I think other districts could use this and benefit from it.”
For several years, the district has wanted to bring additional adjustment counselors to the team, said DeRuosi. A school budget allocation of $100,000 more than the department expected to receive, will provide funding for two counselors’ salaries, he said.
Town Meeting members supported the Finance Committee’s recommendation in May for a $28.5 million School Department budget, which was $100,000 more than Town Manager Scott Crabtree recommended.
DeRuosi will meet with representatives from the Department of Children and Families today to learn more about the services they provide to help model a program that will benefit students. He envisions personnel tackling issues similar to those that social workers for DCF take on.
“Every district has adjustment counselors,” said DeRuosi. “They do a lot of social-emotional work. They’re there to service students. I’m looking to expand that model a little bit and provide a resource to the day-to-day counselors, families, parents, and all parts of the child’s life. It’s a wrap-around service — that’s what I’m trying to create.”
DeRuosi said he has wanted to develop the program since he worked as a school principal and witnessed problems at that level. As a superintendent in Malden, he witnessed problems including children having meltdowns and faculty being unable to reach a parent.
“I would love to see this program work,” DeRuosi said.
DeRuosi is also working to find a new executive director of pupil personnel services and a new athletic director for Saugus Public Schools. Former executive director Lisa Howard left the position to serve as interim superintendent of Winthrop Public Schools, a job she accepted in May.
“The job is a lot of work,” he said. “People can learn the job but we’re looking for someone with a background in special education and, above all else, someone who is a hard worker.”
DeRuosi hopes to fill the positions by August 1.
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.