Superintendent of Schools John Macero and Police Chief Terence Delehanty spoke to the Town Council about the safety and security measures taken in the aftermath of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
“The Winthrop public schools have taken the necessary actions of informing the parents about what we are doing here for our students,” said Macero who added there was a special School Committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday (Dec. 19) to address the issues.
“We’re going to go through with the police chief, the fire chief, and the school principals the actions and steps we’ve taken to be in the best shape we can be in,” said Macero. “Despite the tragedy that did occur, the amazing part that those folks did was that they had a plan in place and they followed that plan and they saved a lot of lives because of that plan.”
Macero said he wanted to assure the community that the Winthrop School Department has a plan in place and the schools will be practicing the plan. He thanked parents for having trust in school staff and bringing their children to the schools Monday, the first school day since the tragedy in Connecticut.
“We had a lot of anxiety going in to school on Monday,” said Macero. “Not so much our students. Our students were resilient. They came off that bus. They came in those cars and they were ready to go. Please be assured that we have been working on making sure that we have the best security in all the school buildings.”
Council President Peter Gill commended the superintendent and the school department staff “for the very smooth opening” of the schools on Monday. “It was a true team of professionals headed by John [Macero] and our very dedicated teachers and administrators who do a wonderful job.”
Gill also noted the efforts of the Winthrop High School Class of 2014 who donated the proceeds ($1,500) from its bake sale Saturday to the town of Newtown, Conn. The Viking Pride Foundation, led by chairman Vincent Crossman, made a generous $1,000 donation to the Winthrop students’ fundraising effort.
Delehanty, who has recently returned from 12 weeks of professional training and educational course at the FBI, addressed the topic of school security later in the meeting.
“Our hearts and prayers are with those in Connecticut,” said Delehanty. “This issue [of school safety and security] has been a very serious one on our agenda for the past year. We met with the principals of every school [Tuesday] to review what happened and make sure that all standards and procedures we have in place are the national standards and the best of the best.”
Delehanty said safety and security review and police coverage at the schools is a daily, ongoing process.
“We met with one school [staff], went over all the plans, and fielded questions and made sure they feel comfortable with those [security] plans. And we will work with the superintendent [Macero] implementing all of the recommendations from the International Association of Chiefs of Police [school safety] grant that we received last April.”
Delehanty said he would consider the reinstituting of a school resource officer position if Federal funding became available.
He said the department conducts regular patrols of the school areas and that officers participate in community events at the schools such as reading to elementary school students.
“We’ve been working on a security and safety plan and we’ve implemented the Stranger Danger’ program at the elementary schools,” said Delehanty. “We’re constantly in and around all the schools.”
The Winthrop Town Council observed a moment of silence in memory of the victims of the tragedy that took place at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
At the start of Tuesday’s Council meeting, President Peter Gill asked that Council members and those in the audience join him in the tribute to the victims. “I’d like to have a moment of silence for the victims of the horrible tragedy in the Connecticut town – the innocent children who died amongst heroes who lost their lives in an attempt to save the others,” said Gill. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families. May God bless them all.”