As our nation tries to heal from yet another horrendous school shooting, I spent a lot of time over the February break thinking about the tragic events in Parkland, FL. It brought back all of the awful memories of Columbine and Sandy Hook. I have to wonder if our country has finally reached the “tipping point” on this issue. I really thought change would result from Sandy Hook, but I'm hopeful this time our country will do something to protect kids, teachers and school staff. This is obviously a very emotional and complex issue with many, many layers. One thing is for sure in my mind, arming our teachers is not the answer.
In Medfield, we have worked hard over the past several years to put safety measures in place. We have collaborated with the Medfield Police and Metro-LEC (Norfolk County’s SWAT team) to implement lockdown (safety) drills in each school. These drills have served as risk assessments and improvements have been made in each school. Window shades and interior locks have been added, shelter in place areas have been changed, and internal communication methods have been improved. Last year, all teachers and staff participated in a very intense (and uncomfortable) afternoon of active shooter training with Synergy Solutions and the Medfield Police. This training focused on keeping our students safe in the event of an active shooter in our schools. The very realistic training included “live” gunshots and a variety of scenarios for us to practice and react to in real time. Although many teachers and staff were very anxious about the training, the feedback was positive as our teachers and staff now have new strategies to handle this type of situation.
Additional safety measures have been added throughout the district including a full time School Resource Officer, a capital investment in security cameras, restricted access to buildings, and others that most people, by design, would not even notice. On the advice of law enforcement, we never share our plans publicly or post them on our website.
The security in our district is always evolving, evaluated, upgraded and the “plan” is never complete. Over February vacation, I was able to attend a workshop with the former superintendent of Newtown, Ct. He shared some “lessons learned” that I am anxious to share with our staff and the Medfield Police as we continue reevaluate and improve our response. One of the biggest takeaways from his workshop was to remove the “It could never happen here” mentality from our community. The data tell us that most of the school shootings have happened in communities with fewer than 10,000 students.
In addition to security measures, our focus on social emotional learning is equally important. Our schools have teams of counselors and teachers in place that meet regularly to support students and work with families that need assistance. The addition of counseling at the elementary level, a school adjustment counselor and a Director of Social Emotional Learning have helped us provide greater support to students and families. Our Social Emotional Task Force is currently working to make recommendations for various improvements for the children and adults of our school district.
We look forward to working with our students in the coming weeks as they advocate for meaningful change in our country. Our goal is to support and guide our students through this real life civics experience. The district is committed to keeping communication open among students, principals, and parents as we work through the next few weeks.
Please don't forget to follow #Medfieldps on Twitter or to Google #Medfieldps to see all of the great things going on in our schools!
The FY19 budget process continues to move forward as we meet with the Warrant Committee this evening (2/26) at 8:00 PM at the Medfield Public Safety Building. After receiving input from parents at our public hearing, School Committee Chair, Maryanne Sullivan asked us to develop another budget that decreased class size and reinstated the three middle school positions that were originally cut from the FY19 Budget. Our current budget request is an increase of 4.89%. All current budget information can be found here .
In addition to our operating budget, please be on the lookout for information regarding the Dale St. Feasibility Study that will be discussed and voted on at the Annual Town Meeting on April 30, 2018 at Medfield High School.