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LYNN — As the incoming chairman of the School Committee and ahead of his one-on-one meetings with committee members, Mayor-elect Jared Nicholson shared his priorities for the city’s public schools in 2022.
“I feel grateful to have the experience on the School Committee coming into the mayor’s office,” said Nicholson. “While we have plenty to work on, I think we have a lot to be excited about for public education in the city of Lynn.”
The relationships he built on the committee, Nicholson said, will be a great asset for his administration and the work he hopes to do for the Lynn Public Schools, since providing public education is one of the most important functions of local government and it constitutes a large portion of the city’s budget.
Nicholson is looking forward to developing a shared agenda for 2022 with the School Committee. He said that the need for new schools, addressing the current unacceptable condition of the existing buildings, and the need for more classroom space will continue to be some of the top priorities for everybody on the committee, as well as the City Council and state delegation.
“We will all have to work together to get this done,” said Nicholson.
He believes that the building of new schools will require close collaboration between the School Committee, City Council and the state delegation.
“We certainly want to deliver on the new Pickering and it is going to be very important for us to get it right,” Nicholson said. “It’s also not going to be enough by itself because of the scale of the need in the city.”
The city will need to think creatively to address the issues of the physical state of the schools, and also think about the case Lynn needs to make as a community to the decision makers to get the resources it needs.
Currently, the Lynn Public Schools Department is moving through the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) process for a new Pickering Middle School. Nicholson said that they are expecting an update from the state soon about the next steps, but to lay the groundwork now the city needs to prepare to provide its part of the funding.
Nicholson said that the MSBA site-selection process will determine how many possible locations for the new Pickering School will be offered to the public to consider, and the city will narrow the list down in a very transparent way.
Since the current district plan that guided LPS and the School Committee will now be more than halfway through its five-year implementation period, Nicholson said, it will be interesting to reflect on where in the implementation process the Lynn school district is and what that means for the next steps. He would like to invite input from the families, educators and the community to determine where LPS is going in the future.
What is happening with COVID-19 and community safety will remain one of the top priorities in 2022 as well, but Nicholson would like to put more emphasis on addressing the effects of the pandemic on the mental health of students and educators.
“We’ve gone through a lot and now we are heading into year three of this pandemic. It has been very trying for the public schools,” Nicholson said.
New School Committee members bring passion for public education and supporting the children of Lynn, Nicholson said. He believes the School Committee should continue to uphold and implement in practice the district’s values of inclusiveness, collaborative relationships, shared responsibility, inspiring lifelong learning and high expectations.
“I think that if we continue to elevate those values in our work we will continue to move Lynn Public Schools forward,” said Nicholson. “At the end of the day, it is all about giving our students the great education they deserve.”
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