Superintendent’s Blog – 11/07/2019

Responding in Times of Crisis

On behalf of the entire staff, I want to thank the members of the community who have reached out to support our District.  The outpouring of emails, phone calls, and personal visits has been a model of kindness and compassion for all of us.  Responding to a crisis is done on a case-by-case situation, dependent on what school and community is most affected by the incident, what is most developmentally appropriate for the students involved, and what we are able to share with students, staff, and community members.  Balancing this, in conjunction with the desire to both be as transparent as possible and simultaneously afford people privacy, is at the very best an extraordinary challenge.  

Whenever there is a tragedy that has the potential to impact our schools we work in conjunction with our school counseling staff to determine the best course of action.  At times, this may include contacting outside community and state agencies and working with emergency responders.  Often times, we reallocate personnel for a period of time to be sure that resources are available for students and staff where they are most needed. 

I would also like to acknowledge that asking questions and sharing ideas or concerns is an important part of the process; however, if we don’t learn of the questions or concerns, we are unable to incorporate that information when we debrief our response.  Please reach out directly through email or phone to any administrator involved in managing the crisis.  Please understand that if you share questions, concerns, or information on social media, it does not necessarily filter to us, instead, it has the potential to perpetuate inaccurate information, and does not help us to use the information shared to improve processes for our students, staff, and community.

Is it really going to snow?!

Yep, it looks like our first real snow event is may come this evening into tomorrow morning. With that, I just want to remind people about how snow delays and cancellations are decided.

The steps outlined below are generally the steps I take when I make a weather-related decision, but my thought process is entirely about student safety. I know that hundreds of teenage drivers are going to be driving to school and thousands of children are going to be boarding buses, and this thought is always at the center of my decision.  I recognize that more notice is better, because as a parent, I understand the time needed to make childcare arrangements and the inconvenience of having routines and schedules interrupted.

Beginning in early November, I follow the weather at the National Weather Service. As a storm event develops, I watch for changes and look at the times that the storm is likely to occur and how long it might last.

As the storm grows closer, I may consult with a number of other people, including the bus company, road agents, other local school systems, and, depending on the anticipated severity of the storm, the State DOT.

At times, with the forecast and information that I have, I can make the call the night before.  Sometimes, the storm pattern changes so frequently that I have to wait to see what is going to happen.

I appreciate that everyone has a different outlook on traveling in varying weather conditions. If, as a parent, you decide to keep your student home during a weather event please just give your child’s school a call to let them know.

Retirements

This time of year often brings announcement of retirements for June of 2020.  This year is no exception. The following members of our school community will be retiring at the end of the school year. Jim Elder, Principal of Great Brook School, Dana Wood, Science teacher at ConVal High School, Andy Bills, Graphics teacher at ConVal High School, Marilyn Bracket, paraprofessional at Peterborough Elementary School, Lise Lemieux, ConVal School District Nurse, Marcia DeSteuben, Librarian at Peterborough Elementary School, Tim Markley, Human Resource Director, Mary Hopgood, Grade 8 teacher at South Meadow School, and Gib West, former Principal and English teacher at ConVal High School. We are grateful for the service that each provided the ConVal School District.  While we are sad to see all of our colleagues leave the District, we are excited for each of them as they begin the next chapter of their lives. 

Budget

We have begun the budgeting process for the 2020-2021 school year.  By the end of next week, we will have budget-related documents uploaded to our website. These will be updated regularly as we move through the budget process. The 2020-2021 budget looks to advance our present Strategic Plan. Should you have questions please do not hesitate to reach out.  I will work to regularly update you as part of my communications over the next several months.

Thank you for your continued support of our students, our staff, and our ConVal community.

Difficult times always give me pause. After the immediate needs have passed, I try to always remember how important kindness and compassion are. The last month has been the most difficult for our District in my 10 years, but I have watched and seen example after example of compassion and kindness. We all feel tragedy, whether we are directly connected or on the periphery, and our ability to model kindness and compassion for our communities, our students, and each other has been a reminder of what it means when someone says “We Are ConVal”.

As always please do not hesitate to reach out at any time, for any reason.

Best,

Kimberly