May 7, 2013
Dear Parents and Caregivers:
Please allow this note to update you on school district discussions and activities about safety and security. In the wake of Sandy Hook, and now the Boston Marathon, the raw and simple fact is that we have all been through a great deal this year. What follows represents our efforts to help everyone be and feel safe in the schools:
1. Front doors at the schools remain locked during the day with buzzer entry. Crisis plans exist for each school, fire drills take place on a scheduled basis, lockdown drills are implemented, and we have developed still stronger working relationships with police and fire chiefs (and their staffs).
2. We convened two meetings with all principals, and police and fire chiefs to discuss reasonable changes to increase safety and security in the schools. A third meeting is planned for June. Each session strengthened the working relationships and communications among us, and provided thinking for what we might do differently going forward.
3. Teams of administrators and police leadership attended conferences: Feel Safe, Be Safe by District Attorney Gerry Leone and the NEMLEC School Safety Summit (North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council).
4. I have named Karen Tuomi, currently responsible for community services in the district, to assume the additional duties of Coordinator of District Security. Karen will be the liaison to the police and fire departments, monitor developments in the field, ensure that we are implementing reasonable practices, and interact with principals to consider purchases in this area.
All of the above has prompted a level of thinking that will serve us in the future. While we continue to feel that school spending should be on providing the best educational program possible (i.e., great teachers and support staff, visionary leadership, technology, and instructional materials), we also know that the limited use of school resources must also be considered for improvements in the security of our school buildings. I will keep you informed as we work to improve both feeling and being safe in our schools.
Anthony J. Bent, Ed.D.