If parents, students and staff notice an opening day "sparkle and shine" to the six Belmont school buildings on the first day of school tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 4, they should thank a current resident of the county jail for that work.
Under the auspices of the Middlesex County Sherriff’s Office, the Belmont Public Schools for several years has engaged the county's Work-Release program to provide maintenance in school department buildings including stripping and waxing of floors; cleaning grounds and buildings; painting; and other general maintenance tasks, according to Belmont School Superintendent Dr. Thomas Kingston.
By using this training program, the School Department also saves considerably in labor costs, he noted.
Seeing crews of inmates – those serving sentences of less than three years – working around town is not a new sight; Belmont has also used inmates – who are under constant guard – for such jobs as cleaning and painting the Underwood Pool, sprucing up playgrounds and other town facilities.
The Sherriff’s program provides skilled and unskilled work training for trustee inmates who are scheduled to be released within a few months’ time. They are individuals who have earned the privilege to be placed in minimum security facilities at the county detention facility.
According to Kingston, the School Department scheduled these work details for times school is out-of-session and our students are not in the buildings. In addition, work did not start until after summer recreation programs were finished that were using school building such as the Wellington Elementary School.
"Because of many years’ experience with these supervised crews, we have unfettered confidence in the quality of their work and, most important, in the safety and security of the work arrangements," said Kingston.