Posted Date: 05/19/2023
May 19, 2023
Dear WPS Families and Staff:
Many of you are aware that the safety and security on our school campus has been a focus this spring. The Board of Education (BOE) listened to public comment and engaged in discussions at both the April and May meetings. The purpose of this letter is to provide you with an update so that you are well informed.
At the May 15 meeting, the BOE approved the hiring of a District Safety and Security Supervisor for the 2023-24 school year at my request. You may recall that one additional security guard had been approved during the budget process. It is evident that a district leadership position dedicated solely to safety and security is needed as well. The specific qualifications for this supervisor may be found at this link. Key responsibilities include serving as the liaison with the Weston Police Department, supervising and evaluating the district’s security team and conducting in-service workshops related to school safety for all staff. The supervisor will monitor all school facilities and have an office at one of the elementary schools.
The BOE also voted in favor of requesting a special appropriation from the town for up to $350,000, which must be reviewed by both the Boards of Selectmen and Finance in the upcoming weeks. The purpose of this funding is for security improvements designed to “harden” the exteriors of our schools with special focus on our two elementary schools. We hope to expedite this request in order to have things in place at the start of the new school year. I appreciate your understanding that we will continue the practice of not sharing specific details of the proposed safety measures publicly as it opens the district to potential harm.
This month you will receive information about our annual school climate survey that will be administered at the end of May to students, parents, and staff. Included in this survey are questions about how each stakeholder feels about safety in each school. Parents with children in multiple schools will be asked to respond to a survey for each child. This information is important as we continue to plan how best to address the social, emotional and physical safety of our children.
I am pleased to share that we will partner with Dr. Megan Elliot regarding threat assessment. Dr. Eliot teaches school threat assessment teams how to assess student threats of violence and develop intervention plans. She has worked nationwide on this issue and spoke at the April BOE meeting. Dr. Eliot, Director of Pupil Services Ms. Edwards and I met to discuss our current practices, and she will work with the administrative team this summer. This link provides additional information about the Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines that ground her work. We are fortunate that Dr. Eliot understands our community as she is a resident of Weston and her children attend Hurlbutt Elementary School. In addition, Chief of Police Henion and the Weston Police Commission are in the process of discussing community education efforts aligned with the safe storage of firearms. At the spring BOE meetings, Weston Resident Ellen Craft brought to our attention several programs that are worthy of consideration in this area.
Finally, I would like to reiterate my request in the April Superintendent Newsletter. There is a growing concern during the school day when people walk through district play areas, look through school windows, and, while walking their dogs leave the sidewalk and venture into the campus. Unleashing dogs to run free on the fields presents issues as well.
I respectfully ask you to refrain from trespassing on the campus during school hours. I understand that running on School Road and walking on campus sidewalks is enjoyed by our residents. However, it is problematic when the public ventures beyond the road and sidewalk and goes into the campus. Staff and students become anxious when they see unknown people on campus in close proximity to their play areas and classrooms. If you wish to use the tennis courts or track during the day, and a class of students is outside using these facilities, I would ask that you come back when our students are inside or after school. Our grade level field days will begin soon. Please be cognizant of this request.
I appreciate your support as we strive to make our beautiful schools and campus safe.
Superintendent of Schools