Dear Newton Community,
It is hard to believe that it has been a week since the tragedy in Newtown. It has been a very tough time for all of us, staff, students and families.
On Monday, I shared with you that we would act thoughtfully and swiftly in reviewing our safety and security plans. Over the course of the week, I have spent a significant amount of time reviewing safety and security with the Mayor, Interim Police Chief and all of our building principals. Our District Safety Team also met earlier this week to discuss areas that warrant our attention.
After many hours of discussion, we have a list of items that we will be considering over the next couple of weeks.
- An examination of all of our safety procedures (evacuation, fire and lockdown drills, perimeter lighting, etc.)
- An assessment of our identification and sign-in policies
- A serious look at implementing a buzzer and camera system at each of our Pre-K-8 schools
- A review of our current practice of permitting parents to enter our Pre-K-5 schools during drop-off and pick-up
I expect that we will review other items as well, but I wanted to give you a sense of the topics that came to the forefront during our discussions. Please understand that our review of these practices will be thorough and vigilant and should give you a sense of how seriously we take school safety and security.
I also want to inform you that I have received a lot of feedback from parents on this issue and the feelings vary on where we should go from here. A broad spectrum of suggestions has been shared ranging from significant security changes to minor tweaks. I appreciate hearing the wide array of opinions on a matter that is so important.
Given the critical nature of this issue, it is hard to imagine that we will not make some shifts in our current practices. In order to make you as familiar as possible with our existing procedures, we will be providing information on our website immediately after vacation about how we conduct evacuation, lockdown, and fire drills, as well as other safety practices.
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we will also continue to work in close partnership with the Mayor and the Newton Police Department as we strive to make everyone in the Newton community feel as safe and secure as possible when they send their children to our schools. I promise to keep you well informed as we move forward.
Best wishes for a peaceful 2013.
Superintendent of Schools