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Salem board mulls maintenance plan for school memorials

SALEM — The School Board is considering enacting a policy that would help with the maintenance of memorials on school grounds.

The issue of how the district could garner some financial assistance when it comes to the maintenance of the myriad plants, shrubs, trees and other memorials on school property was first raised by board member Pamela Berry last year.

On Tuesday night, Superintendent Michael Delahanty laid out a basic outline of how the board may want to proceed with making sure those who donate memorials to the district also provide some kind of mechanism to make sure they are cared for and maintained. Because Berry could not attend the meeting, however, the board tabled any final decision on that process to a future meeting.

“Generally speaking, memorials or structures that are erected on school district property are in memory of someone, and it’s a family, organization or group that wants to install the memorial,” said Delahanty. “It might be a plant or a tree or a shrub or some type of landscaping.”

Delahanty said of late there have been memorials that combine hardscape materials to the landscaping and that some of those require more maintenance.

“At Fisk School, for example, the PTA installed a memorial at the corner of Main Street and South Policy Street with quite a hardscape feature and one of the concerns is now maintaining that memorial. Does the school district accept financial responsibility for maintaining it or is there some way to ensure that the donor group accepts responsibility?”

Some of the options for working with the donor groups include having them accept responsibility for the maintenance itself or establishing a trust where the funds can be used by the school district for that maintenance.

“That’s the general direction that I feel we need to go, however my research shows there are no defined guidelines for this,” said Delahanty. “I do have some language that I will present when appropriate, but generally speaking, it’s about maintaining these memorials.”

School Board member Peter Morgan said the policy should also contain language that addresses what is done if a memorial has to be moved or removed.

Board member Bernard Campbell noted that his family business addressed the memorial issue by setting up a specified area where people could install a memorial brick. He said that presented a more uniform and simpler process for those wishing to honor someone with a memorial.

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