Friday, December 21, 2012

Parent/Community Forum Q&A


Hello,

I would like to remind all of our parents that the topic of safety and security will be on the January 3, 2013 School Committee agenda.  The School Committee Meetings are held at the Coolidge School, 12 Bancroft Street at 7:00 PM.

I have received additional questions from parents and am working on answering those questions for publication on this blog.  

Sincerely,
Bob Gerardi

Maynard Public Schools
Parent/Community Forum on Security and Safety Q&A
12/17/2012

1.    Q:  What are the exact times that the school doors open for students to come in each morning and for afternoon dismissal?

     A:  At MHS the doors are open from 6:00 AM until 7:45 AM for deliveries.  At 7:45 AM MHS is locked during the day until 1:30 PM.  Teachers are assigned to monitor the front door as part of their duty.

     At Fowler the doors are open for deliveries from 4:30 AM till 8:00 AM.  The doors are then locked at 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  The doors are open from 2:00PM till 9:00 PM.

     At Green Meadow all of our classrooms have exterior doors and they are locked at all times.  We have three points of entry in the morning and there are staff monitoring each entry.  The Front door is locked following the preschool arrival, at approximately 8:45.  The two other entry points are locked once the students enter at approximately 8:30.  There is a midday preschool dismissal where the front doors are opened for a brief period as the preschool teachers dismiss their children directly to parents. 

     For the Green Meadow dismissal, the front door is unlocked for the 2:30 preschool dismissal.  The door by the third grade is open at 2:40 by a staff member (generally the principal) who stays by the door for the entire dismissal.  The two entry points are closed once all students are accounted for.  The main entrance remains open for EXCELL and Boys and Girls Club, Cub Scouts, Girls Scouts, and cheer leading.

     In the last couple of days, other school districts have identified that they do not have any lock or buzzer system.  They have stated that the culture of their community is that they have community schools that are open to all.  Likewise, our schools are used after school and on the weekends extensively by community agencies like Boys and Girls club Cub Scouts, Girls Scouts, Recreation and Athletic leagues, and cheer leading.  In the past, our community as has held an expectation that Maynard has community schools and our community will have to reconsider this as we move forward.

2.    Q:  If someone is not recognized when they buzz in at the front door, how does the staff respond?

     A:  The staff is trained to request information, have the visitors sign into a log book, and assign a visitor Badge so that they are recognizable as an outsider in the building.

3.    Q:  Several Parents mentioned that there are times when the staff is not checking visitors after they are buzzed in.

     A:  We will be reviewing our protocols in light of this tragedy.  It is very easy for a staff member in an office area to try and multitask during the course of a busy day.  We now have to reexamine the duties that individuals are responsible for and make sure that security and safety are our #1 priority.

4.    Q:  What is a Lock Down Drill?

     A: A Lock Down Drill is a simulated event that is similar to a Fire Drill.  Everyone evacuates the building as in a fire drill because the goal is to get everyone out of the building safely. 

     In a lock Down Drill everyone finds a predetermined safe space in a locked room.  In addition the teacher has a way to signify if their room is safe so that the first responders can solve the problem more quickly. 

5.    Q: How is the Lock Down Drill Communicated?

     A:  The Lock Down Drill is initiated through a message from the Principal through the loud Speaker system.

6.    Q:  Are Lock Down Drills the same at every school building?

     A:  Lock Down Drills are similar in each building.  However, some strategies are adjusted based on the individual needs or strengths of each building.  Additionally, the older students may be provided other opportunities to learn about safety after the Lock Down

7.    Q:  How do teachers explain the Lock Down Drill to students?

     A:  Teachers are advised on the protocols of various drills during their faculty meeting times after the school day.  We tell students that this drill is about being safe.  We explain their role in being safe.

8.    Q:  If there were a real Lock Down event, how quickly would parents be notified or would they have to hear about it through the media?
    
     A:  Every incident provides a different scenario.  With iPhone and iPad Technology, parents are likely to hear or even see video about an incident almost instantaneously.  Then The Media often gets to a scene and provides minimal and vague information based on what they can find. 

     The Schools or the incident command must follow protocols before parents can be contacted and students dismissed.  I say incident command because once the police arrive on the scene they take over from the schools to become incident command and make these decisions.  If the SWAT Team or State Hazmat team is on the scene then they may take over command.  Each incident is different.

I like to use an example of a mock incident that I participated in when I was a member of the RI Emergency Planning Curricula for local Police, Fire, and Education Committee.  In this incident a person was angry at a science teacher and accidentally shot some chemicals while attacking others in the science class, there was a need call Police and Fire initially,  Once the fire department realized that the smoke was a chemical reaction, they called in the state Hazmat team.  In this scenario, the media may be on the scene with basic information about the incident but a Hazmat Team may be the incident command.  They may have the schools inform parents that some of the students who where not affected will be transported to another school for dismissal while other students will need to be scrubbed on site before they are transported to hospitals for final release.  In this scenario, Parents will get information as the incident unfolds and depending on incident command

9.    Q:  A student reported to their parent that a substitute did not know the protocols for a Lock Down so the students had to tell the Substitute teacher what to do, is this common?

     A:  Unfortunately this does happen on occasion when a substitute has not had a chance to read the teacher substitute folder.  However, as the year goes on our substitute pool stays consistent and they understand our systems.  Another parent also identified that the goal of the drill is for everyone to know their role and isn’t it wonderful that our students know their role well enough to teach the substitute teacher.

10.           Q: During the day are the individual classrooms locked?
    
     A:  Not usually.  In fact at Green meadow, sometimes collaborative classroom activities happen.  If they were happening and a lock down drill was required, they would go back to their rooms.

11.           Q:  Was any thought given to additional Police Presence?
A:  Yes, Chief Dubois had considered it. However he has had similar experiences in other communities where additional Police presence created higher anxiety for students.

12.           Q:  Should we consider physical improvements to the building
           or improving the campus grounds with a gated entry?

     A:  We would have to weigh the cost to benefits of physical improvements.  You can create a fortress but a determined attacker will always research your facilities weakness

     Also, we already have had physical improvement recommendations as a result of our drills.  For example, the addition of blinds in some classrooms will make them less obviously susceptible from outside intrusion.

13.           Q:  Are regular walk throughs of the buildings conducted?

     A:  That is the Principal and Assistant Principals job.  They walk through their building and grounds regularly. 

     Also, our custodians are expected to do rounds at the end of their shift to identify any suspicious activity or physical plant problems.

14.           Q:  Do we have security cameras?
    
     A:  Yes but they are limited.  That is another area that we have talked about improvements.

Monday, December 17, 2012

This Morning and this Afternoon

Hello,

This has been a challenging day for several reasons.  The freezing rain complicated morning travel to the schools, and the tragedy in Connecticut last week had ramifications on how we would support our students, parents, staff, and community.

This morning, the call for a delay of school was compounded by Mother Nature changing things up at the worst time. The DPW was out on the roads in the early morning hours and had treated all of the surfaces. They and determined that the roads and walkways were passable at 5:30 in the morning when the call to cancel or not cancel is usually made. Sometime around 6:00 AM the temperature dropped enough to cause additional freezing in Maynard. Unfortunately the schools only have ice melt and the wet ground can refreeze.  Out of respect for parent schedules, I do not like to call after 6:00 AM and as a result we started school at the regular time.

This afternoon at 3:00PM, a Parent/Community Forum was held to provide information about Maynard School Security and Safety Protocols.  I was pleased that the following colleagues attended to support the presentation and answering of questions.  The Assistant Town Administrator/EMA Director Kevin Sweet, Fire Chief Stowers, Police Chief Dubois, Lt. Dawson, Juvenile Detective Duggan, Principal Dankner, Principal Mela, Principal Caragianes and School Adjustment Counselor Cecilia Tatem Small where all standing near the podium.  There were many other concerned staff in the audience for support as well and I wish I could recognize all of them in this brief summary.

At the forum, our School Adjustment counselor provided literature for parents that explain how to have difficult conversations with our children.   The principals described what preventative measures are currently in place in our schools.  Detective Duggan and I described many of the coordinated town wide efforts between the schools, fire, police and town emergency management officials.  At the end of the presentation, we all answered many excellent questions from the audience.  In an effort to provide multiple opportunities for communication. I explained that I would take notes on the questions and answers and would post them as a Q&A for those who could not attend.  I have written my first draft of the Q&A's but will wait to post them until I have them proof read by the other contributors.  Finally,  the School Committee has suggested that we schedule another presentation to be done at the next available School Committee meeting in an effort to have a night venue for these discussions to take place.

I hope that this information has been helpful and will get the Q&A's up on the blog ASAP.
Sincerely,
Bob Gerardi

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hello,
I would like to assure you that the Maynard Public Schools Support Staff will be ready for students who may need more time to process these events as they come to school on Monday.  The tragedy in Connecticut has been difficult for all of us. It is hard for adults to understand why these events happen which makes it tough for us to help our children and loved ones understand it as well.
As educators, parents, and guardians, we realize that we need to help our children understand violence, safety, and security. I have been receiving good information from the Maynard Public Schools Support Staff that I would like to share with all of you.
The first is a link to a 5 minute video about talking in general with children about tragedy.
The second is a link to the National Association of School psychologist:
 
 
On that web site in the center of the page yuou will see a list of NASP Resources.  The first resource will be tips for parents and teachers about to talk about violence. 
 
Over the weekend, I will be using this information to talk with my children about the tragedy in Connecticut and I hope this will be helpful to you.
Sincerely,
Bob Gerardi

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Current News Reports

 
Hello,

There are current news reports about a former Maynard High School employee.  She is no longer an employee of the Maynard Public Schools.  We cannot comment further as this is a personnel matter. 

The education, safety and well-being of our students remain our highest priority.

Sincerely,
Bob Gerardi

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

School Bus Concerns Today

The Maynard School Department Administration is very appreciative that the Maynard Police Department is monitoring safe transportation in the town of Maynard 

Unfortunately, a bus with students from Fowler and MHS was pulled over at Erickson's today for a traffic violation.  The School Department was notified and has already discussed this with our transportation vendor. Our transportation vendor will take appropriate actions.

Sincerely,
Bob Gerardi

Friday, October 19, 2012

Please read page A 9 in the current Beacon Villager!


 Jean LaBelle, the Maynard High School Economics Teacher, had her students write letters to the editor about their views on the national dept and deficit.  The editor published it on Page A-9 as a story titled “The Newest Voters: Students speak out on deficit, tax cuts, social security". 

I am so proud of our school community to have teachers and students getting published on a topic of such importance.  This article really provides insight as to how the next generation feels about our economy.  They will be the problem solvers of our future so it is good that they are articulating their concerns so well at such an early age. I know that we have focused a lot of energy on preparing our students to be good writers and this article is just one more demonstration of the academic success in Maynard Public Schools!

Sincerely,
Bob Gerardi

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Maynard Country Club


Hi All,
 
I missed this announcement in my Superintendent's Notes today and thought that this Blog would be a good venue to get the message out.
 
What do YOU think we should do with the old Maynard Country Club?

Recreational fields?
Golf course?
Affordable housing?
Community gardens?
Walking trails?

You are invited to participate in two upcoming events to help plan for the future of this 60+ acre town-owned site:

October 10, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.  Maynard Country Club Clubhouse, 50 Brown Street, Maynard
Participants will propose, discuss and prioritize their initial ideas and goals for the future uses of the site.

October 20, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. Maynard Country Club Clubhouse, 50 Brown Street, Maynard
Walk approximately 1.25 miles around the country club site, while examining the environmental conditions and discussing the potential future uses for each area of the property. Wear comfortable shoes and dress appropriately for the weather!

For more information, visit the Town of Maynard web site at www.townofmaynard-ma.gov, or contact Mark Racicot at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council at mracicot@mapc.org or 617-451-2770, ext. 2063.  Interpretation or assisted listening

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hello All,

I am very sorry to the parents and commuters who got caught up in the traffic congestion on Tiger Drive this morning. 

Unfortunately, several of the construction workers had mistakenly shut down Tiger Drive earlier than we expected this morning.  The congestion began before we could explain that we were not prepared for the construction to begin until this afternoon.  In response to our concerns, they opened up Tiger Drive shortly thereafter which alleviated the traffic congestion this morning.  However, we will all need to be aware of the additional commuting time required for this afternoon and until the construction on Tiger Drive is finished.

The Police Department is aware of the additional traffic concerns and they have assured me they will do all that they can to assist with the traffic on Rt. 117 as a result of the Tiger Drive closing.

Sincerely,
Bob Gerardi

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hello,

I missed these two very important announcements for our school community in my Superintendents Notes that were sent out this week.  I hope that this blog will help to get this information out.

Sincerely,
Bob 

The Maynard Booster Club 

Fall is a great time to clean out those closets and to RECYCLE THOSE OLD SHOES! The Maynard Booster Club is collecting all of your old shoes, sneakers and cleats for recycling! Drop off boxes are located in the lobby of all three schools and at Alumni Field when the Snack Shack is open. Collections start Monday Sept 17 through Saturday Sept 29. Sorry but we cannot accept: winter boots, roller skates, singles or unusable footwear. Thank you for supporting the Maynard Booster Club!

MHS Band and Chorus is going to Disney.

Help support our trip and you could win a new car! We are raffling a brand new Kia Optima or $20,000 in CASH! Raffle tickets are on sale now. You can purchase a ticket from a band or chorus member or you can find us at Oktoberfest or MHS home football games. A maximum of 2500 tickets will be sold.

Tickets are $30 each or 2 for $50

MHS Band and Chorus Flower Bulb Fundraiser

Support MHS trip to Disney with some beautiful flowers. Go to the following link to purchase bulbs. MHS will receive 50% of all sales and the flowers come directly to you. http://www.flowerpowerfundraising.com/i/t/297640/AvjT21gZyOM8

 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The closing of Tiger Drive did not begin today as we expected.  The closing is rescheduled to start on Monday, September 24.  This will affect traffic flow with all 3 schools.

N-Star and the construction company will be bringing the main power lines to the new building next week.

Starting this coming Monday, September 24th Tiger Drive will be closed between the High School and Fowler School as power poles and a buried main power trunk are installed.

Any person who is used to driving through that section will not be able to including parents and buses that make stops at the high school and then the Green Meadow or Fowler.  People who need to access buildings in this way will have to go back out to 117 and go to the other entrance at the other end of Tiger Drive.

It is currently scheduled to take 1 week to complete this work with Tiger Drive back to normal traffic flow on Monday, October 1st.

Please remember that buses on the way home may be delayed

Sincerely,
Bob Gerardi

Friday, September 14, 2012

Important Transportation Notice:

As a necessary result of the construction of the new Maynard High School, Tiger Drive will be closed starting Monday. This will affect traffic flow with all 3 schools.

At yesterday's construction meeting it was brought up that N-Star and the construction company will be bringing the main power lines to the new building next week.

Starting this coming Monday September 17th Tiger Drive will be closed between the High School and Fowler School as power poles and a buried main power trunk are installed.

Any person who normally drives through that section will not be able to (including parents and buses that make stops at the high school and then the Green Meadow or Fowler).  People who need to access buildings in this way will have to go back out to 117 and go to the other entrance at the other end of Tiger Drive.

It is currently scheduled to take 1 week to complete this work with Tiger Drive back to normal traffic flow on Monday September 24th.  

Thank you for advance for your consideration in this matter
 
Sincerely,

Robert J. Gerardi, Jr., Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dear Parents,

We have heard the concerns around our online payment process for student lunches.

Let me explain how these problems have occurred:  


We have the same food service student management system called NutriKids as we did last year.  They have chosen to replaced PayPal with "myschoolbucks.com".  Myschoolbucks.com is the leader in electronic payments for the school food service industry.   NutriKids was the one who decided on the change and the implementation schedule for Maynard.   At a statewide meeting our food service director found out that most NutriKids districts have not completed their upgrades yet and that we are further along than two districts that he is familiar with. We have been told that when the issues are corrected, it will be a much more convenient process for the families.

Let me explain our solution:


Our Food Service Director, Robert Kinch has assured me that we had come a long way over last weekend in resolving this problem. While we still have minor issues to overcome they should all be resolved by the upcoming Friday. Parents can put money on the accounts now. However, Bob will continue to work with the parents who have individual problems with "myschoolbucks.com". Bob Kinch can be reached by phone at (978) 897-6100 or by email at rkinch@maynard.k12.ma.us

Thank you in advance for your patience while we work with our student management system on their software upgrade.

Sincerely,
Bob Gerardi

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hi Vin,

I am new to blogging technology as well.  Many other people probably have similar questions so it would be good for me to post the answers for them as well. 

Let me answer your questions and concerns as follows:

1. I am curious about the Teachers' Professional Development Days and the type of seminars and activities that are conduced. 

Each year the professional development is aligned to the District Improvement Plans (except when we have important state legislated requirements which override the District Improvement Plans as we did this year).

I just wrote an article that will be published in next Thursday's Beacon Villager.  That article will explain a little more about the content and quality of presenters for the recent professional development days.  The short answer is that most of our professional development this year will be on the legislatively mandated new educator evaluation system.  We are proud that the Maynard Public Schools is one of twenty five districts in Massachusetts that have an agreement to start this year.

2.  Are there programs for all staff members on these days?

Professional development obligations and expectations are spelled out differently in the different contracts,  For the most part teachers and administrators attend all of the same professional development.  Paraprofessionals attend some of the same professional development as Administrators and Teachers but not all of the same activities. 

There are also times when it is appropriate for different groups of teachers to receive different types of training based on the Districts Improvement Plans.  During those years, there may be many different activities going on during one professional development day.

3. Is attendance mandatory?

These two days are mandatory for all teachers.  There are some exceptions for Administrators and Paraprofessionals.

4. Is there an accounting available to the public of those who attend and those who - were scheduled - but did not attend? 

There is definitely an accounting of those who attend and those who don't.  We don't find this to be a problem and the rare occasions when someone doesn't attend is when they are very ill.  Often it is an inconvenience for them to makeup the training they missed.  We do not make personnel information available to the public because of confidentiality reasons.

I hope that this information was helpful and please feel free to email or call me at any time.

Sincerely,
Bob Gerardi

Welcome to the 2012 2013 School Year




I would like to welcome the entire Maynard School Community back for the upcoming school year!  We have had a great start to the school year with only a few scheduling issues to address.  We will continue to work on those final details.   In addition to having all the students in school this week, we had many events designed to bring constituents together at the beginning of the year as well. 

Last week we held several “Meet and Greet” events for staff who are new to their positions in Maynard.  At Maynard High School we had parents meet the new Principal Chuck Caragianes and the new Assistant Principal Purnima Vadhera.  We also held a “Meet and Greet” for the new Kindergarten Spanish Immersion Teacher, Emelia Gamboni.

Other noteworthy events included:
The Kindergarten Orientations this week at Green Meadow
A “Meet and Greet” for grades 4 & 5 students and parents at Fowler.
A back to school picnic for grades 4 & 5 students and parents at Fowler.
The Music & Fall Sports Kick-off BBQ-for all Student Members of grades 9-12.
The 2012 Tiger Golf Tournament

The Superintendents Notes should begin next week once we have all of the contact data rolled over into a new system. 








Saturday, July 28, 2012

I am new to blogging and have fun writing the news letters.  Blogging may provide a convenient opportunity for dialog on district wide concerns or commendations. 

Also, there are opportunities for surveys.  It will be interesting to see if this mode of communication reaches different people than the news letter.  Any opportunity to expand communication is positive.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Test Blogging

Hi All,

I am just learning about blogging and am curious if a superintendent's blog would be beneficial to our school community.  My understanding is that it might be more interactive than my weekly Superintendent's Notes.  Please share your thoughts.