To: Burlington Parents and Community
From: Eric Conti, Superintendent of Schools
Patrick Larkin, Assistant Superintendent of Schools
Let us start with the acknowledgment that these are challenging times. Last week’s school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida left us at a loss for words. It is impossible to rationalize any situation where students are sent off to school by their parents and then fail to return at the end of the day due to a violent incident at school.
The purpose of this communication is to provide some information about what we have in place to address school safety concerns brought forth by parents since last week’s incident.
Safety and Security
The safety and security of students, staff, and visitors to our school continues to be at the top of our priority list. We have a holistic approach to our safety and security planning that focuses on supporting both the physical environment and the emotional environment present in our schools. In regards to the emotional supports, Burlington has made a commitment to increase the focus on Social Emotional Learning supports across the district. In addition to specific programs, like Responsive Classroom, that seek to build connections to school for each student, the district has a dedicated school psychologist and adjustment counselor within each school. Ensuring access to mental health support for all students is imperative to maintaining safe schools.
In regards to the physical environment, the district has worked closely with the town in recent years to update the entrances to all of our buildings so that there are secure entrances where visitors are buzzed in and then enter the main office before accessing other areas of the building. In addition, Burlington Public Schools continues to work closely with the Burlington Police Department to review and revise safety procedures to maintain student and staff safety. This close partnership has included Burlington School Administrators and Burlington Police attending the National School Safety Summit in Colorado in the summer of 2016. As a result of the collaborative efforts of the school and police departments, a new Standard Response Protocol was adopted at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.
All Burlington schools practice both evacuation and lockdown drills on a regular basis. School administrators organize these drills in conjunction with the Burlington Police Department and debrief after each drill to assess areas for improvement. We continuously revisit different scenarios to make sure that in the event of a particular emergency our staff and students are prepared.
In closing, we know that one of the most effective means for us to maintain safe schools is for students, parents, and staff to feel empowered and safe to report anything they see or hear that is at all out of the ordinary or disturbing. All of us – school personnel, students, parents and community members – are vital to this effort to keep our schools safe. We appreciate your questions and feedback on the topic of school safety and please be assured that this area will continue to occupy the top spot on our priority list.
There will be an Open Forum for parents and community members who would like to provide feedback for the MSMS Principal search process next Thursday in the Marshall Simonds Middle School Learning Commons at 6 p.m. Assistant Superintendent Patrick Larkin will meet with those interested to gain insights of parents and community members to share with the search committee.
Parents and community members are also welcome to provide feedback for the principal search team through this survey as well.
Looking forward to meeting new and familiar families at our Kindergarten Information Night!
The Burlington Public Schools will be holding an information night for parents of incoming kindergarten students. At this informational evening, you will learn about what a typical day in kindergarten looks like. We will review registration procedures, kindergarten screening, and overall kindergarten readiness. There will also be time allotted for Q & A. Please join us for this important evening.
Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 (snow date – January 18, 2018)
Location and Time: Burlington High School Auditorium 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Please note: this evening is for parents/guardians only.
In the rush of preparing for a new school year, I have been remiss in introducing the District’s new operations team. The reorganization was triggered by the retirement of our former Director, Craig Robinson. Craig served the Burlington Community for over 20 years in different roles. We are grateful for his service and wish him well in retirement.
It would be difficult to replace Craig’s experience and expertise in a single person so I decided to break up the responsibilities into areas of specialization – Town/School Technology, Finance, Facilities, Food Service, and Transportation. Some of these areas of specialization already existed, but Facilities and Finance were added.
The new Director of Operations has begun overseeing Town/District Technology, Finances, Facilities, Food Service and Transportation. The Director of Operations will continue to oversee the big picture and communicate with the School Committee, School District Employees, General Government, and the Community. The specialized managers of Town/District Technology, Finance, Facilities, and Food Service will have the expertise and focus to be immersed in the day to day specifics of their respective areas of responsibility. We contract out our regular education and special education transportation services.
I am excited to introduce Bob Cunha, our former Director of Town/School Technology as our New Director of Operations. Bob has the experience, relationships, and communication ability to perform well in this new position. Burlington is known for its outstanding technology. Bob has been a big part of this success. I am looking forward to him bringing this track record of success to our overall School District Operations.
In the coming months, Bob will be introducing his individual Team Managers, their backgrounds and responsibilities, and some operations staff members through a District Operations Blog. While the learning side of the District is most important and tends to get all of the attention, our employees involved in operations are incredibly talented and dedicated. They are all critical to our success.
Please follow our new District Operations Blog to get to know our talented staff and for any information and updates you may be interested in learning.
Despite an incredible effort today by the DPW, Park and Recreation, and our custodians, we will not have school on Friday, January 5, 2018. The icy conditions and cold require more time to clear than is available even with a delayed start. We are grateful to have such dedicated employees who work in all weather conditions so that community and schools can continue to function.
We look forward to school on Monday. Even given the weekend, the cold temperatures will mean that there could be icy conditions. Please be careful.