GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

April 10, 2013

Letter: School comparisons must include Fuller


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

The educational system in Gloucester is broken and must be fixed.

But before we throw more money away, let’s look at the problem.

In 2012, our schools were ranked using MCAS test results in Language arts and math. Here’s how our schools stack-up against others in the commonwealth, with 890 elementary schools in Massachusetts.

East Gloucester Elementary ranked 250 out of 890.

West Parish ranked 380 out of 890.

Plum Cove ranked 469 out of 890.

Beeman School ranked 726 out of 890.

Veteran’s School ranked 751 out of 890.

The same study revealed that, out of 387 total middle schools in Massachusetts, O’Maley ranked 230th and from a total of 343 high schools in Massachusetts, Gloucester High ranked 236th.

How can such a performance differential be explained and how can we expect these students to excel at O’Maley and beyond when test results show, in many cases, a comprehension discrepancy too large to overcome. We argue about buildings without regard to their contents. Shouldn’t we be putting the student’s needs before all else?

Let’s start with Fuller School.

The taxpayers of Gloucester deserve more that the financial shell game and political miss-direction surrounding the Fuller school property disposition. First, the mayor spends $60,000 on a “best usage” study for the property. This study only includes three feasible uses; all include the relocation of the Gloucester YMCA. Next, she states that using the Fuller property for its intended purpose — a school — is “off the table”.

I’d like to know why the Fuller property supposedly isn’t being considered as a citywide elementary school. Councilor Ciolino has repeatedly said that the people of Gloucester don’t understand the cost of this option. Joe; enlighten us! Tell us what it would cost to renovate the building and construct an addition large enough to educate the city’s elementary grades. I’d also like to know why a new school at West Parish qualifies for limited state funding, yet Fuller does not. Both projects are schools in need of repair. Shouldn’t the Fuller property be proposed to the state for consideration?

The West Parish School is crumbling; that’s the main reason for replacement. If we build a new school in West Gloucester; how long before the same argument is raised for East Gloucester Elementary or Beeman? A few years from now, we will face the same predicament. I refer to my question; Joe Ciolino, what is the cost of revitalizing Fuller when compared to the educational needs five years or 10 years down the road?

The real question should be, what’s in the best interest of the children of Gloucester in obtaining an education that will allow them to attend college and compete in the real world? What’s the real cost of putting political agenda before public need?

Using Fuller as a citywide elementary school may prove not to be in the best interest of the students, but we won’t know until the option is reinstated and a serious inquiry conducted.

GLEN BRESNAHAN

Essex Avenue, Gloucester