SAUGUS — Lesley Parker supports the public schools’ multi-year building and reorganization plan, as long as local educators keep parents like herself informed as work unfolds.
The Lynnhurst School Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) treasurer and mother of a second-grader knows Lynnhurst is one of three town elementary schools — Waybright and Oaklandvale are the others — scheduled to be closed under a sweeping plan to change how Saugus’ 2,650 public school students are educated.
She joined a majority of town voters in approving the school projects and the $185 million financing for them in 2017.
“I think we all share the view that the community needed a change. Now the question is, ‘When are we closing schools?'” she said.
The move to the renovated elementary schools is two to two and a half years in the future, said Saugus Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi Jr. in an interview Wednesday.
Parker and other parents can see the school plan take shape when they drive by Saugus High School or on Route 1 and see the new middle-high school under construction.
The construction and reorganization schedule calls for sixth through 12th grade students and school employees to move into the school in fall 2020.
Moving middle school students to the new building triggers the Belmonte Middle School’s renovation as a third through fifth grade school oriented to science, technology, engineering, arts, technology and mathematics.
As the Belmonte work unfolds, a separate plan calls for building an addition on Veterans Memorial School and renovating the school to become a prekindergarten through second grade school.
DeRuosi said the biggest concern parents have raised is regarding the vast age range of students attending the middle-high school.
The school will have separate middle school and high school wings with opportunities for supervised high school students to mentor middle schoolers.
“I’m a fan of high school kids working with middle school kids,” DeRuosi said.
Parker said Lynnhurst parents she knows see the school project as a way to ensure “equality and equity across all grades pulling the entire town together.”
“What does the transition look like? Map it out properly for the least-disruptive approach and then publicize it,” she suggested.
DeRuosi said building a new school, renovating Belmonte and Veterans Memorial and reorganizing schools structure can translate into needed academic improvement.
“Personalized, project-based learning” combined with new teaching techniques and improved technology can make those improvements a reality.
“This is a phenomenal undertaking for a town. It’s going to benefit this entire community 50 years down the road,” said DeRuosi.
Parker shares that excitement. But she said communication between parents and educators must be a priority as the school project unfolds.
“If it’s not orchestrated properly, things can get very tricky,” she said.