Newburyport School Committee to host public safety forum

·3 min read

Sep. 23—NEWBURYPORT — Parents will be given a good look at current and future school safety measures when the School Committee hosts a special public safety forum at the Senior/Community Center on Oct. 3.

Superintendent Sean Gallagher said the forum, which begins at 6:30 p.m., will give the district and the Police Department a chance to update parents on school safety.

"School safety is still the No. 1 priority for us," he said. "We work with our Police Department and really educate our students and staff on it throughout the school year."

Gallagher added that the school district remains involved in partnerships with the Police Department, the Essex County District Attorney's Office and the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council. The district continues to perform safety and Alert, Lockdown Inform, Counter, Evacuate — or ALICE — drills.

The district is updating its security camera systems, both inside and outside school buildings, and plans are underway to install a Raptor identification system.

"Anyone who comes into the building gives their license, so they get an ID badge. But the system also runs kind of a background check on people that are coming into the building," Gallagher said.

City Marshal Mark Murray said a former school resource officer, Sgt. Gregory Whitney, and current School Resource Officer Kyle McElroy are expected to give a presentation on the Police Department's school safety plans.

"They will be talking about the things that we are doing, like having an officer going into each of the schools and checking in with everyone," he said. "They will also talk about the active shooter training that our officers receive, and the training they received as school resource officers."

Mayor Sean Reardon, a former School Committee member, said he wanted to hold a public safety forum after a lone shooter killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in May.

"I find parents with young kids want to know what the procedures are that keep the kids safe," he said. "When you have these national tragedies, it is worth it to revisit and share any information and make sure that everyone knows that our kids' safety is our top priority."

The public safety forum will be the first chance the district has had to address such issues since before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, according to Gallagher.

"This year has been the first year that we have opened in a normal way in over two years," he said. "So we are kind of back to normal this year and are informing the community about a lot of the school security aspects that we have in place. There will also be a question-and-answer session for anyone who wants to attend."

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Newburyport for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Newburyport for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.