School Committee 05/02: Taking Opposition Against the Opioid Crisis

On Monday, May 2, 2016, the school committee met for their monthly meeting to discuss issues and accomplishments in Malden pertaining to opioid abuse, lead tested in the city’s water, science education fellow honorees, and follow ups on school librarian positions, and lifting the cap on charter schools.

The opioid epidemic that has spread throughout cities across Massachusetts, and the country, has now begun to affect the people of Malden. This is a serious issue that legislators have yet to find a solution for to help addicts recover.

Last month on Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2016, the city of Malden dedicated a day to raise awareness about the seriousness of addiction, and how collectively the people can remove the stigma around it. Read more about Malden’s Stop The Stigma Day here.

Superintendent David DeRuosi and Mayor Gary Christenson plan to work together along with other city officials to find more “positive ways” to fight the epidemic, and educate the people, specifically the youth, on drugs and the repercussions of using them.

Currently, there are two programs in the process of being implemented in the Malden Public Schools to increase the amount of health education students receive.

Tara Beardsley, who presented at last month’s meeting, was back to discuss the lead that recently tested positive in Malden’s water, and follow up on the pending librarian positions in the kindergarten through eighth grade schools.

Malden is in the process of replacing all water pipes throughout the city, but as Beardsley pointed out, schools such as the Early Learning Center and Malden High School, which are both older buildings, may still have a percentage of lead in their water coming in from the streets.

Beardsley’s mind immediately went to the safety of the children when she heard about the lead found in Malden’s water because lead is “very harmful for brain development in children.” DeRuosi and Christenson both said that the city is keeping a close eye on this issue, and any levels of lead found in the city are monitored and kept on record.

Beardsley, along with Jodie Zalk from Malden Reads, was also present to follow up on the absence of librarians in the schools with the committee. Even though she is aware that creating multiple positions is impossible during this budget crisis, she wants the members of the committee to reconsider having one rotating librarian and volunteers to help out.

Eleven science teachers from all over Malden were also present at the meeting, including MHS’s own Katy Bizer, Kathy Maglio, Shannon Votaw, and Kate Haskell, to be presented with their plaques for being honored as Science Education Fellows by the Wipro Organization. Congratulations to all teachers recognized for their achievements as science teachers in Malden.

Finally, the committee finally came to a decision, and voted against lifting the cap on charter schools. Bonnie Page, the president of the Malden Education Association, was present to read the resolution that will be sent to the state aloud.

Malden loses over eight million dollars to charter schools every year, and with the budget cut short once again, the city is running out of options. The need for funding is crucial, and the committee had no other choice but to oppose lifting the cap.

The next school committee meeting will be held on Monday, June 16, 2016.  

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