Andover Public Schools Announces West Elementary’s Invitation into State Building Assistance Program

Andover School Committee
Susan McCready, Chair
36R Bartlet St.
Andover, MA 01810

For Immediate Release

Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017

Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: john@jgpr.net

Andover Public Schools Announces West Elementary’s Invitation into State Building Assistance Program

ANDOVER — Superintendent Sheldon Berman is pleased to announce that West Elementary School was chosen to participate in the state’s School Building Assistance Program.

The program could result in approximately 40 percent of the renovation or replacement cost of the outdated school building being covered by the state.

Members of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) voted yesterday to accept the school into the assistance program after Superintendent Berman and the Andover School Committee submitted it for consideration in April.

“The invitation into this program provides a tremendous opportunity for us to improve the learning conditions for our students,” Superintendent Berman said. “Last year, during the launch of our master facility plan, we recognized West Elementary as a high priority for renovation or replacement. We are thrilled that the MSBA agrees with our assessment.”

West Elementary School, 58 Beacon St., was built in 1951 and had an addition built in 1968. The building is in need of several improvements to alleviate heating and ventilation issues in the classrooms, outdated infrastructure and poor space configurations.

The next step for the town will be to appropriate funding for a feasibility study to determine the best course of action for the school. Town Manager Andrew Flanagan has allocated this funding in the town’s capital plan, which will be voted on at Town Meeting on April 30.

“We will need to be patient, because the process is a lengthy one with many steps to complete and decisions to be made,” Superintendent Berman said. “Realistically, it will probably be four or five years before the project is completed.”

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Town of Andover Responds after Swastikas Found Drawn on School Desks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017

Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: john@jgpr.net

Town of Andover Responds after Swastikas Found Drawn on School Desks

ANDOVER — Town Manager Andrew Flanagan, Superintendent of Schools Sheldon Berman and Police Chief Patrick Keefe report that the Town of Andover is responding strongly after three swastikas were found drawn on a classroom desk at Andover High School on Tuesday afternoon, hours before the Jewish festival of Hanukkah was set to begin.

This is the third time in recent months that a swastika has been found at Andover High School, and this incident occurred in the classroom of a Jewish teacher, escalating the incident to a hate crime. The town is responding with a unified show of force.

“The moment we write these acts of intolerance and hatred off as mere ignorance we are admitting that we must live with hate in our community,” Town Manager Flanagan said. “Our community is much stronger than that. We are a vibrant, tolerant, welcoming community, and we will not allow hate speech or hate crimes to pervade in our schools, or anywhere else.”

The Town of Andover has a relationship with the New England Chapter of the Anti-Defamation League and will be relying on it for guidance and for its vast resources and expertise in responding to hate speech and hate crimes.  The Andover Public Schools will also conduct faculty and staff training with the ADL. 

Additionally, the Andover Public Schools will shortly be reaching out to local clergy, including rabbis, priests, ministers, and other members of the area religious and civic community to lead a public forum at Andover High School sometime early in the New Year. 

“We must respond to the situation that presents itself to us, and we cannot ignore hatred and intolerance because they are uncomfortable topics of conversation. We must educate ourselves and our children,” Superintendent Berman said. “We seek to find those responsible for these acts, but we also know that we must educate our entire community if we hope to prevent these acts from reoccurring.”

The Andover Police Department is investigating these incidents as well as the Andover Public Schools. Those responsible, if and when they are found, could face felony hate crime charges. 

“We are actively and aggressively investigating these incidents at Andover High School, and the men and women of the Andover Police Department seek to become active participants in the learning and healing process with the schools, and our community,” Chief Keefe said. “Crime prevention happens in the community, and we are dedicated to preventing these terrible acts from happening again.”

Andover High School also reminds students of its core values and beliefs, which read in part:

  • All students will act with respect, integrity, and compassion
  • All students will demonstrate responsibility for their actions
  • All students will cultivate their awareness of contributing to the common good

“It had been my hope that we would be able to stop this behavior which, I believe, involves a small group of individuals. However, since this behavior continues to victimize members of our community and has created a pattern of hostility within our school, I feel that I need to shine a bright light on the situation and involve our entire school community so that we can stop this and all hate speech from occurring on campus,” said Philip Conrad, Andover High School Principal. “There is a need to recommit ourselves to providing a safe, supportive, and equitable learning environment for all.”

Incidentally, the Andover School Committee recently adopted a statement of tolerance. It states in part that the School Committee does “formally and unequivocally oppose bigotry, racism, violence, and hate, wherever such may occur and in whatever form such may take” and shall “maintain two-way communication with citizens of the community.”

If anyone has any information on these incidents, they are encouraged to call Andover High School at 978-247-5500 or the Andover Police Department at 978-475-0411.

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Rockland Public Schools Investigating after Student Brings Airsoft Pistol to School

Rockland Public Schools
Superintendent Dr. Alan Cron
34 MacKinlay Way,
Rockland, MA 02370

For Immediate Release

Monday, Dec. 11, 2017

Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: john@jgpr.net

Rockland Public Schools Investigating after Student Brings Airsoft Pistol to School

ROCKLAND — Superintendent Dr. Alan Cron reports that Rockland Public Schools are investigating a report, received after school hours, that a student at the Memorial Park Elementary School brought an Airsoft toy plastic pellet pistol to school and fired it at classmates.

Late this afternoon, administrators were made aware from students that another student had allegedly fired plastic pellets at a number of classmates, and one student was struck. No students were injured, and the Rockland Public Schools do not believe that there is any danger to the school or community.

Dr. Cron emphasizes, while the matter is still under investigation, that the item in question is not a firearm or anything that can be made to shoot bullets or lethal rounds. Nonetheless, an Airsoft gun can be used as a weapon, and the Rockland Public Schools are taking this matter very seriously. The student in question will be kept out of school, and the school administration and the Rockland Police Department are conducting a full investigation. The student who brought the Airsoft pistol to school is expected to face charges from the Rockland Police Department.

“We are taking this seriously, and even though this information is only a few hours old, we have already taken action,” Dr. Cron said. “We are working closely with the Rockland Police Department and I want to reassure everyone that there is no danger to the school community.”

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Burlington Fire Department Provides Home Heating Safety Tips

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Burlington Fire Department
Chief Steve Yetman
21 Center St.
Burlington, MA 01803

For Immediate Release

Monday, Dec. 11, 2017

Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 781-791-7627
Email: john@jgpr.net

Burlington Fire Department Provides Home Heating Safety Tips

BURLINGTON – As the cold weather moves in, Chief Steven Yetman and the Burlington Fire Department are reminding residents of several home heating tips to ensure that residents are safely staying warm this winter.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is the leading cause of home fire deaths and half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January and February.

The NFPA recommends the following tips to prevent most heat-related fires from happening:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.
  • Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.

If you have questions or concerns about safely heating your home, please contact the Burlington Fire Department at 781-270-1925.

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