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School Committee Hears Request For Gun Safety Program

Marilyn Frank on the Westford CAT Video of the Meeting
Marilyn Frank on the Westford CAT Video of the Meeting
The following is Part One of a transcript of the Dec. 2, 2013 School Committee Meeting. For the links to other part of the meeting, click here. 

7:30 to 7:40 p.m.    (0:00 to 10:00)

There were no members of the public to offer any comments in the audience, School Committee member Angela Harkness provided praise for the Westford Academy Theater Program’s performances of Les Miserables, with additional praise given by School Committee chairman David Keele and School Committee member Margaret Murray.

School Committee member Terry Ryan talked about the Westford Academy Thanksgiving game and a recent parents’ night at the Abbot School, particularly regarding the crowded classes in the third grade there.

7:40 p.m. to 7:46 p.m. (10:00 to 16:00)

Superintendent Bill Olsen provided an update on several items including Westford Academy earning a place on the College Board AP District Honor Roll, only 1 of 776 in the U.S. and Canada, a recap of several Westford Academy students who participated in a recent quiz bowl in Boston and several other items.

Olsen also praised Les Mis. Keele asked if the theater program was self-sustaining and also asked about ticket prices.

7:46 p.m. to 7:47 p.m. (16:00 to 17:00)

Student representatives on the board talked about the conclusion of Les Mis, tryouts for winter sports and the upcoming Holiday Baazar.

Keele asked them some questions regarding upcoming midterms and how students were taking the follow-up to Thanksgiving Break.

7:47 p.m. to 8:05 p.m. (17:00 to 25:00) 20 to 38

Keele introduced Marilyn Frank and her overview of the Eddie Eagle program.

Frank currently serves on the Conservation Commissions and was Keele’s first grade teacher.

She retired in 1999 after many years in office and served as the chairperson for Bob Jefferies’ campaign for the Board of Selectmen last year, which hinged largely around guns.

During that campaign, she saw that there was no ability for a discussion on guns. While she does not own a gun, she sought to do something to help educate children about guns, with the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle program being the most notable children’s education program regarding gun safety.

The Eddie Eagle program had been part of the school district in earlier years, done by the Westford Board of Health’s Ray Peachy and Frank called it a missing piece that it was not used.

Frank said that the Westford Sportsman’s Club would fund the program for the first year, which is approximately $800.

Peachey said he would agree to renew his role and Westford Police Chief Tom McEnaney told Frank he thought the program was a good idea.

Keele said that he was a member of the Sportsman’s Club and also thought this was a good idea and he thought it would be successful, with the possibility that the Sportsman’s Club would support it in future years.

Frank urged that this remain apolitical and it be only about safety.

Olsen said that the key would be to find a time to do it, likely after MCAS and PARCC testing.

Frank said it would take about 2 ½ hours, with the hope that there could be additional sessions in future years.

School Committee member Arthur Benoit asked if there was any best time of year for this program, with Frank just saying her view was the hope that the lessons become second nature to students.

Harkness asked what happened to the program before and why it stopped, but no one was sure.

She also asked where the money goes for the program and had concerns for public money being used to support any lobbying effort.

Frank said that this year there wouldn’t be public funding due to the Sportsman’s Club and she said she would find out more information.

Harkness then asked how effective this program was, saying she would be worried about using the program if it was not effective.

Ryan asked if there could be a voluntary donation by people who applied for firearm permits to send toward the program, but Frank was worried that if there were stopgaps put in place that it’d never happen.

Harkness reiterated her concerns that the program is effective and paid for, with Ryan saying he did not want it to be a one year program.

School Committee member Tom Clay hoped that the diligence being done here didn’t scare off Frank from proceeding with trying to help implement the program.

Benoit said that this program can be updated if needed if problems arise.

Frank said she’d like a timeline for implementation, hopefully by the end of January, with Keele said was fair. 



Vincent DiRico December 05, 2013 at 08:44 AM
I'm taking my girls to an archery range when time permits, should we also have an archery safety class (what about ice skating safety, biking, ...), NO! Parents time with kids is for stuff like that (and gun use/safety) please stop even discussing stuff like this in SC meetings until the whole system is running like a machine.
Sam December 05, 2013 at 10:32 AM
Big Brother wants to take care of everything in your life. How else can they ask for a 4-5% each year if all they do is simply provide base classes.

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