GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

July 22, 2013

Letter: Stepping aside from School Committee race


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

I am writing to inform all of the supporters and friends of the Gloucester Public Schools that I have decided not to seek a fourth term on the Gloucester School Committee.

The decision has been a difficult one, as I have very much enjoyed serving as a School Committee member for the city of Gloucester for the past six years.

One of my proudest accomplishments was chairing the committee that hired a capable and visionary superintendent who has strengths in curriculum instruction, common core, assessment, and professional development.

At a recent meeting, Superintendent Safier presented our new comprehensive evidence and results-oriented district improvement plan that is second to none. I am prepared to leave the committee at the end of my third term, knowing that the district is in good hands and I have faith that Dr. Safier and his leadership team will exceed the aggressive academic goals put forth in that plan.

During my tenure on the School Committee, our school district has been faced with many challenges. Despite the difficulties, we have many accomplishments to be proud of. Some noteworthy achievements include:

Our teachers signing on to Race to the Top in year one and taking a leadership role in implementing the new educator evaluation system.

We continue to see steady improvement in our academic success. In 2012, our 10th grade MCAS literacy scores were at 91 percent proficiency or above, above the state average and I am confident that our 2013 10th grade results will be even higher.

From a facilities standpoint, we have expanded our elementary schools with modular classrooms and we have put five new roofs on four elementary schools and our middle school. We will open up our fall football season on Sept. 6 with a ribbon cutting ceremony at a state-of-the-art stadium.

In the future, we will unveil a renovated or more likely a new West Parish elementary school in the fall of 2016, with the MSBA base reimbursement rate of 48.27 percent of eligible costs. Immediately, we will begin a comprehensive assessment of our other four elementary schools for the purpose of evaluating existing building conditions, educational space requirements, and future capital.

Personally, I am incredibly proud of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) project-based learning initiatives that have evolved at the O’Maley Innovation Middle School. I was fortunate to have served on the Innovation School Implementation team, which allowed me to collaborate with our talented faculty and staff in developing the innovation plan.

Our performing arts/drama program at O’Maley is second to none, and we offer rich after school opportunities that allow children to extend their days learning whether on the playing field, or in the classroom.

My son, who will be attending eighth grade at O’Maley in the fall, has thrived in the Gloucester Public School district. Our faculty and staff are engaged and committed to our students and I am proud of consistent improvements across the board.

Although I will no longer be a member of the Gloucester School Committee, I plan to continue to work to ensure that our children receive the best educational opportunities possible. I will remain actively involved with the Gloucester Education Foundation and I will continue to advocate for our district for fair and adequate funding with our local and state legislators.

I encourage members of the community, particularly those who have young children in our schools, to remain engaged in your children’s education. If I may be so bold, consider running for School Committee. The last day to submit nomination papers to the registrar of voters for certification is Aug. 13 at 5 p.m., which gives you a month to collect the required 150 signatures.

Although my last term still has five months remaining, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of my friends, colleagues, faculty, staff, community partners, local and state elected officials, and most importantly, my wonderful family who have supported me as a public official for the city of Gloucester.

It has been an honor to serve our community.

VALERIE GILMAN

Revere Street, Gloucester

Vice Chair, Gloucester School Committee