, Newburyport, MA

June 24, 2013

Board looks at ways to improve school district

By Kelly Burch

---- — NEWBURYPORT — As the school year wrapped up for students, the Newburyport School Committee met last Monday to discuss ways that the school district can be improved in the coming year.

The committee discussed the improvement plan at Rupert A. Nock Middle School, as well as the building renovations taking place at the school.

“The renovations are going like a well-oiled machine,” said School Committee Vice Chair Cheryl Sweeney. “The end result is going to be fantastic.”

The committee also discussed naming rights given to the Newburyport Education Foundation. The foundation will sell naming rights for classrooms at the renovated Bresnahan and Nock schools to raise money for the school district, according to Superintendent Marc Kerble.

The largest discussion of the night surrounded a presentation by the Prevention Specialists, teachers at Newburyport schools who work to prevent bullying. The specialists were updating the School Committee on the steps that have been taken to curb bullying in all Newburyport schools and to create a comfortable school environment.

“The teachers all have clear rules and expectations for their classroom,” said Sweeney. “Each level in the district determines its own needs.”

The measures used to combat bullying in Newburyport schools include morning meetings in classrooms, during which students and teachers focus on building a sense of community. For the younger students, the school system is using a campaign called “Have You Filled Your Bucket,” Sweeney said.

“You want to be a bucket filler, not a dipper,” Sweeney said. “You fill your bucket by doing kind things.”

In addition to bullying prevention, the School Committee updated the medical policy and protocols, including how and when nurses can give out medication.

“Each year our nurses see 2,600 students,” said Kerble. “There are kids in the office for a lot of reasons.”

The committee was deadlocked on whether to pass a 25-cent increase to school lunch prices. The issues will be revisited in the winter, Sweeney said.

The meeting concluded with Kerble — who will be leaving Newburyport schools June 30 — thanking his colleagues on the School Committee.

“The community has been terrific,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the teachers, students and staff.