Superintendent's Corner

mural on the outside of Sheffield School

Dear GMRSD Community,

It is an honor to continue to serve the vibrant communities of Montague and Gill.  It is also a pleasure to play a role in seeing relationships strengthen among school district stakeholders, as we work together to support the learning and growth of our young scholars.  One of our goals across the district this year is to improve in our digital communications with friends and families.  This includes launching this new district website and associated school webpages. 

This page is a place on the site where you may find documents of long-term relevance as well as high interest items of passing interest. I invite you to dig through some of the artifacts here to gain a deeper sense of what we are up to here at GMRSD. And please feel free to contact me with any items of interest, feedback you wish to share, or concerns you wish to express. Contacting me through email is usually the most efficient way to go: michael.sullivan@gmrsd.org.         

Sincerely yours,
Michael Sullivan, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools

Newest Post:

To: The Public
From: Michael Sullivan, Superintendent of Schools
Date: April 30, 2019
Re: School Resource Officer Information

The School Resource Officer (SRO) position is new to the district this year. I’d like to provide the public with four types of information about it to date:

1. My perspective on the objectives of the position
2. A report from the secondary principal and the SRO
3. Information about school district counseling services
4. The memorandum of understanding for the position

1. SRO Objectives

From my perspective, the district’s main objectives for the SRO position are to enhance school safety and security, to reduce the threat of acts of violence within our schools, and to increase feelings of safety and security among students, staff, and families. One of the ways in which these goals are achieved is through the SRO developing strong and trusting relationships with students, staff and families. This occurs through a range of interactions, from his daily and highly visible interactions as well as through his conversations with individuals.

Based upon what I have seen this year, the position has been effective at achieving these goals. Here is the best example I have of explaining why. From time to time students will make serious threats of physical violence or behave in ways which are highly threatening. When this has occurred this year, in comparison to the past, having an SRO present has substantially reduced student, staff, and family anxiety, knowing that a police officer is present to help investigate, to advise, and to provide on location security.

The tasks and actions undertaken by the SRO also serve other purposes. He contributes in numerous ways to fostering a positive and caring school culture and to supporting individual students and, sometimes families, facing difficult circumstances. These are explained below.

2. Report from the Secondary Principal and SRO on the SRO’s Roles and Responsibilities

This memo reviews typical roles and tasks undertaken by Officer Dan Miner as the GMRSD School Resource Officer. Officer Miner maintains his office in the secondary building, but makes regular visits to other district schools, both for outreach and relationship-building, and in response to urgent safety-related requests. While in the secondary building, his routine responsibilities include:

· Greet students daily; supervise parking areas at arrival and dismissal
· Attend middle and high school morning meetings 3x week
· Support cafeteria during middle and high school lunch periods
· Support daily outdoor recess time for 6th grade and for 7th/8th grade when scheduled
· Co-facilitate weekly group luncheon for at-risk young men in the high school (with a volunteer counselor from a community partner agency)
· Consult with student leadership groups (Student Council, Peer Mediators, etc.) on request
· Speak in classrooms when requested on various law enforcement-related topics
· Work with administration and local emergency responders to organize and participate in evacuation, lockdown, and reunification drills; advise on facility safety improvements such as
   “go- 
bags” for emergency use
· Support middle and high school student services staff with de-escalation of students
· Consult with teachers about at-risk students
 Provide security and advice in urgent situations (e.g. an incident involving a reported threat of violence against students)
· Provide occasional transportation for students and parent/guardians for various reasons (lack of transportation, behavioral reasons)
· Assist with addressing needs of chronically absent/tardy students
· Consult with outside agencies such as Department of Children and Families, Crisis Services, local emergency responders
· Attend weekly check-ins with the behavioral intervention team, monthly in-service trainings, and monthly Resilient Schools Initiative meetings with other secondary staff.

So far this school year, Officer Miner has participated in the following trainings:
· Equity Training (one day, provided by Engaging Schools/DESE, Leominster MA)
· Restorative Practice Training (four half day sessions, organized by the Mediation and
Training Collaborative in Greenfield in partnership with local school districts)
· Juvenile Law Training (two days, Massachusetts Juvenile Police Officers Association, Norwood MA)
· Cultural Diversity Training (one day, Municipal Police Institute, Hopkinton MA)
· School Resource Officer School Training (five days, National Association of School Resource Officers, Hyannis MA)
· District Attorney Training (one day, Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, Northampton, MA).

Overall, Officer Miner is serving effectively in his role by establishing rapport with students, staff, and families; strengthening the relationship between the police and schools; facilitating the timely and thorough exchange of information between the schools and police; and helping maintain a safe and positive learning and work environment.

3. District Counseling Services

The school district does not consider the SRO to be a counselor, to provide counseling services, nor to take the place of a counselor. School adjustment counselors, or school social workers, are highly trained professionals who provide direct services to students with specific social and emotional needs, usually in one on one sessions, and sometimes in small group setting. district currently has 4.4 adjustment counselors and 2 guidance counselors. We are about to hire an additional adjustment counselor for the coming year bringing our total staffing to 7.4 counselors. We have also added an additional secondary dean of students and a board certified behavior analyst to next year’s budget, all bolstering our commitment to address student social and emotional learning needs from different perspectives. We see the SRO as an integral part of the teams that support student social and emotional needs and that promote a positive and equitable school culture.  Here is the School Resource Officer Memo of Understanding our School District and the Montague Police Department developed and agreed to in June 2018.

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