Up-Island school committee puts off decision on school resource officer

The Up-Island Regional School District (UIRSD) school committee, meeting Monday evening, decided not to add a school resource police officer to next year’s budget. Based on feedback, Chilmark head of school Susan Stevens and West Tisbury School principal Donna Lowell-Bettencourt said they received from parents and students, the school committee agreed to continue discussion.

School committee member Michael Marcus of West Tisbury suggested the committee consider a school resource officer in the wake of shootings last December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Over the last several months the school committee discussed the idea, in consultation with up-Island police departments.

Ms. Stevens said Monday the consensus in her school community is that a full-time school resource officer isn’t necessary at this time. Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt said, based on the many comments and questions she received in surveys of students in grades 6-8 and parents, she would like more time for discussion and to look at all the options. School advisory committee member Ina Andre, the only parent on hand Monday, asked what role a school resource officer would fulfill, in addition to guidance counselors.

Ms. Stevens and Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt also discussed Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam results. Ms. Stevens said Chilmark School will work with all students on growth, especially those whose scores were on the cusp of a higher or lower category of achievement. Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt said the West Tisbury staff will look at the kindergarten through grade five math program to discover whether or not another program might be better for teaching Common Core State Standards.

In other business, school business administrator Amy Tierney gave the committee copies for review of a report on a limited roof inspection performed at Chilmark School by Russo Barr Associates. It recommends that the school’s metal roofs be replaced and estimates the construction cost at $55,000 to $65,000. The committee agreed to discuss the report in detail at its next meeting, at 5 pm on November 18, at the Chilmark School.