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Superintendent's Blog

Kennedy Middle School Update

December 18, 2013

Dear Parent(s) / Grandparent(s) / Guardian(s):

I would like to bring you up-to-date on the school evacuation and early dismissal at John F. Kennedy Middle School that took place today.

At approximately 11:30 a.m., an exterior gas line outside of the building was severed causing the evacuation.  Students and staff began boarding buses off school grounds for warmth at 11:40 a.m.  Approximately 50% of the student body boarded buses within fifteen minutes and the remainder of the students were on buses no later than 12:15.  Students returned to Kennedy Middle School only after being assured by safety officials that the building was safe to occupy at 12:40 p.m.

A decision was made to dismiss early today for the following reasons:

  1. Although the building was entirely safe, the odor of gas remained and could have been disruptive to the teaching and learning environment.
  2. During the evacuation, all energy was terminated including the heating system.  The heating system could not be reenergized until late afternoon.

There will be an on-time start and a full day of school scheduled tomorrow, Thursday, December 19, 2013.

 I would be remiss if I did not share with you how impressed I was with the Kennedy Middle School student body, staff, and administration.  In addition, it is important for all to know that the immediate cooperation from safety officials (fire and police) helped to make a very difficult situation one that resulted in an orderly evacuation on a cold December day. 

Finally, if any parent or community member is in need of additional information, or if you have further questions, please feel free to call my home number after 7:00 p.m. at 860.417.3679.

Respectfully,

Dr. Joseph Erardi

Superintendent of Schools

Posted by jerardi on Wednesday December 18, 2013 at 03:25PM
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School Safety

Dear Parents:

As we near the one year anniversary of perhaps the most heinous act ever bestowed on public school children (Sandy Hook – December 14, 2012) our district continues to spend a great deal of time and energy around the focus area of safety.  Personally, as your school superintendent I get very uncomfortable when I begin to feel comfortable about security.  There simply is no plan that ensures 100%  security and safety for staff and students.  I believe in the  power in numbers and would like to invite you to be part of a standing committee that would meet quarterly with my office to remain proactive, brainstorm, and be preemptive at all times.  Ideally, I would like parent representation at all levels.  If you are interested in this community service for children please send me a quick note via my email address and I will be back in touch with you with the date of our December opening meeting.  In advance, I thank all parents for being a partner to our safety solution.

Posted by jerardi on Monday November 18, 2013 at 08:25AM
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JAD & JFK Air Quality Testing

Middle School Parents:

First, thanks so much to so many parents/grandparents/guardians who were able to attend our before-the-school-year-began briefing on the building projects.  One pending question from parents centered on ongoing air quality testing at both JAD and JFK.

The attached document illustrates the timeline and the test.

As always, please feel free to call my office with any further questions or concerns you may have regarding this issue or any other issue that pertains to your child’s educational program.

Posted by jerardi on Thursday September 19, 2013 at 03:37PM
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Southington Parent Survey

Dear Southington Public Schools Parent/Guardian,

I am contacting you to urge your participation in a brief online survey regarding underage alcohol use, prescription drugs, and related behaviors, put out by Southington Parents Raising Healthy Teens. This group is a collaboration between the STEPS coalition (Southington's Town-wide effort to Promote Success) and Wheeler Clinic, to prevent underage drinking and other substance abuse.  This project has been engaged in activities to promote parent knowledge about these topics.

The only way to determine the effectiveness of this effort is to ask parents--via an online survey--what they know about these issues. The information from the survey is critical to the continued funding of this project.

I am sending this request to all middle and high school parents on the e-mail lists maintained by Southington Public Schools. Your contact information has not been released and all survey responses are completely anonymous. Your electronic address (IP address) will be stripped from your responses by the vendor who provides the survey software (SurveyMonkey.com).

Results from the survey will only be released as a summary in which no individual’s responses can be identified.

If you have any questions or concerns about this survey, please contact Mihaela Fodor at Wheeler Clinic at 860-793-2164 or via e-mail at mfodor@wheelerclinic.org 

Sincerely,
Dr. Joseph V. Erardi, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools

To take the survey, click the link below:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Southington_Parent_Survey_VI

Posted by jerardi on Monday May 13, 2013 at 01:23PM
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Final Steps to the BOE’s Proposed Budget…and an update for incoming Kindergarten Parents

Thank you to so many parents who have spent a considerable amount of personal time to understand all aspects of the Board of Education’s 2013-2014 proposed operational plan.  Presently, the School Board’s proposed budget was reduced by $1.1 million dollars.  This reduction took place by the Board of Finance and this unanimous Board of Finance reduction was sent forward to the Town Council.  The council will take action on the Board of Education bottom line on Monday, May 13th.  The School Board will dedicate a good deal of their May 23rd meeting to finalizing their operational plan for the next school year.

Therefore, does this mean that the All-Day Kindergarten proposal is in or out?

The All-Day Kindergarten proposal remains in the School Board’s proposed operational plan at this time.  However, if there ends up being a reduction to their proposal, the School Board will weigh a wide variety of options to reach their bottom line.  Consequently, incoming Kindergarten parents must remain flexible until final action is taken by the Board of Education.  In the best case scenario, I will be sharing a definitive “yes” or “no” with all parents on Friday, May 24th. 

The School Board and I thank our incoming Kindergarten parents for their patience and partnership.  I look forward to answering any questions you may have pertaining to the budget during normal working hours (8:00 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.) or feel free to call me at home at 860-417-3679.

Posted by jerardi on Monday April 29, 2013 at 10:37AM
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School Safety Update

Good Evening,

This is Dr. Erardi, Superintendent of Schools, with a message to all parents and staff regarding an update pertaining to school safety. Over the past three weeks, parents, staff, safety officials, and town government have worked in partnership to review every aspect of school safety.

Our approach is in three-phases: What can we do immediately? What can be researched and completed by the close of the year? What long-term plans need to be implemented?

On Thursday evening, January 10, this detailed and extensive plan will be shared with the Board of Education in executive session. Because of the nature of the topic, finite details will remain confidential; however, I plan to share a safety community update within the regular session of our meeting.

I can assure all parents and staff that the school board holds safety at its absolute highest priority and that every safety upgrade brought forward will be long-term and meaningful.

A safety forum will be held for all parents, staff, and community members on Tuesday, January 29th, at 7:00 p.m. in the Derynoski Elementary School auditorium. The agenda for the forum will be to update all those in attendance on the measures that have been taken pertaining to enhanced school security.

I would encourage any parent or staff member in need of additional information to call my office at 860-628-3202 or my home phone at 860-417-3679.

Thank you.

Posted by jerardi on Wednesday January 9, 2013 at 10:51AM
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Violent Video Game Collection - Cancelled

This event has been cancelled.

Dear Parents / Grandparents / Guardians: 

The community response with prayer and help to Newtown has been overwhelming with so many students, parents, and staff members all looking to assist in any way possible. 

I am both fortunate and pleased to represent the school district within the grassroots work of “SouthingtonSOS,” which formed after the Katrina storm.  This ad hoc group represents nearly all organizations and sectors within the community.  SouthingtonSOS convenes on an as needed basis and looks to support all in need of crisis. 

Thus, on the heels of the horrific event in Newtown, SouthingtonSOS met and looked to suggest to the community a meaningful way for all to be respectful to Newtown and, perhaps, make our community just a bit healthier by encouraging parents to talk to their children about violent video games. 

On Saturday, January 12, from 9:00 a.m. to noon, there will be a collection of violent video games.  This Chamber of Commerce sponsored event will offer a gift certificate redeemable at no cost to the family to all those who return a violent video game. 

If you are unable to make the January 12th collection, but would like to contribute violent videos, simply give my office a call at 860-628-3202 to arrange the drop-off.

Posted by jerardi on Wednesday January 2, 2013 at 03:29PM
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Safety Forum Notes

Safety Forum
Derynoski Elementary School
December 16, 2012

There were 36 parents/audience members who commented during the public portion of the evening. Included is an overview of the comments and questions that were presented by the public.

ENTRY TO VISITORS

It was recommended that the sign-in procedures for all visitors be examined. The current procedures can give people a false sense of security. It’s believed that parents/visitors should go through additional procedures prior to entering the building; while this might be viewed as an inconvenience, it is well worth the extra minutes it would take.   It was noted that once a visitor gains access to the building, they can go anywhere in the building and no one would know where they are. It’s believed that security is not present in most buildings prior to the start of the day and anyone can enter through any door.

 Questions asked:

  • Do all guests report to the office?
  • Who supervises building access during and after school?
  • Will there be door monitors for the preschool program at Hatton School?
  • What are the current procedures for delivery staff that are entering the school?

SAFETY MEASURES

There were recommendations that included installing cameras, alarm systems that would alert the school staff in the event of gunshots, and installing a panic button system. In addition, parents/audience members stated they would like to see: additional police presence in all buildings throughout the school year, armed security, school resource officers, use of a security company with trained staff at doors. Parents were concerned that the doors are left open in the rear of some schools.

Questions asked:

  • Would police radios have the necessary reception to work in all buildings?
  • Would it be possible to have all schools in lockdown status at all times?
  • How do the schools alert all classrooms when a lockdown situation is presented?
  • Should students at all schools/levels be required to wear badges?
  • Are the playground areas safe?

PARENTS SEEKING ADVICE

Parents wondered how and if they should talk to their children about the tragedy. They questioned how they should explain the ‘drills’ that take place during the school day. They also wondered if the district worked in conjunction with the private nursery schools and notified them of any circumstances.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

  • What are the police going to do now?
  • What resources might be available? Grants? Homeland Security?
  • Mental health issues need to be addressed. What curriculum additions will/can occur?
  • Is there a need to change the current lockdown procedures?
Posted by jerardi on Monday December 17, 2012 at 06:25PM
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......A Continued Safety Update

Our world has once again changed forever.

 

It has been a difficult and busy weekend preparing for Monday, December 17, 2012. 

 

We, as an administration, have been blessed with so many staff members and community members stepping forward offering their expertise and insight.  Your site level administrator will do her/his absolute best to answer any and all questions you may have as we move forward with teaching and learning. 

 

I worry about our children and staff as we try to cope with our neighbor’s tragedy.  Please let your administrator know if you need any kind of support or assistance as America tries to move forward in the coming days.

 

Last evening, over 300 parents participated in an ongoing dialogue regarding safety.  The best plan moving forward includes a review of our entire present practice pertaining to safety, and perhaps, more importantly, having continued relationships with every student and staff member in the district.

 

During these most difficult days, I am blessed to work with a school board, cabinet, administrative team, staff, and parents who are second to none.  We will persevere and lead with common sense and compassion and never forget our fallen colleagues and their students.

 

Perhaps today, more so than any day in the past six years, I am incredibly privileged to lead this district.

 

Please do not hesitate to call or write to share your thoughts.

 

Finally, on Wednesday, December 19th, I will be meeting with the Executive Parent Council at 7:00 p.m. at Hatton Elementary School.  I extend an invitation to every parent as the one-hour meeting will focus on the role of the parent within our schools. 

 

God bless all of our children.

 

Respectfully,

 

Dr. Joseph V. Erardi, Jr.

Superintendent of Schools

Posted by jerardi on Monday December 17, 2012 at 08:03AM
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Thanksgiving Act of Kindness

Parents, Staff, and Community Members:

I am enormously proud of our recent Veterans’ Day celebration which took place in all of our schools, as we honored the women and men who have protected our freedoms.  The Southington Public Schools partnership with those who have served is unique as the local veteran has become the ambassador, the role model, and the voice of our most recent celebration.

Our Southington Public Schools Veterans’ Day partnership includes a final community opportunity sponsored by “The Giving Back Girls” to support our military who remain overseas for the holiday season. The Giving Back Girls are middle school students who deeply understand the spirit of working hard for those in need.

Please take a moment to read the attached list of items that are needed for our soldiers.  I am hoping that if you plan to attend the Southington Blue Knights football game on Thanksgiving, you will bring with you an item that will fill the truck for our soldiers.

I hope everyone has a holiday filled with family, safety, and reflection.

Respectfully,

JE

CLICK HERE FOR THE LIST OF NEEDED ITEMS

Posted by jerardi on Friday November 16, 2012 at 11:03PM
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All-Day Kindergarten Forum

Community Members:

Thanks to all who attended the All-Day Kindergarten Forum at Strong Elementary School on Thursday, October 4, 2012.  I hope that those in attendance left the one-hour conversation with a better understanding of the framework that will be proposed to the Board of Education on November 8th (Postponed to November 14). My office, along with Karen Smith’s office, would welcome parents and  community members who seek additional information.  Through the Superintendent’s blog we will keep everyone informed with the most current information.

Once again, thank you to all for participating in this key aspect to our readiness program.

Respectfully,

Dr. Joseph V. Erardi, Jr.

Posted by jerardi on Friday October 5, 2012 at 08:55AM
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Middle School Renovation Preparation

To Southington Public Schools Parents, Students, and Staff: 

As part of the preparation for the upcoming renovation project for the John F. Kennedy and Joseph A. DePaolo Middle Schools, various environmental samplings were performed by our environmental consultants, HYGENIX, Inc. The purpose of the inspection was to identify environmental hazards that may be present so that accidental disturbance does not occur and hazardous materials can be properly removed.  

During the course of their inspection, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were found to be present in many building materials throughout the school including caulking (sealant) around windows, doors, expansion joints, and other locations. The materials in the schools are currently intact. Immediately after the discovery of the PCB containing items, air samplings were performed in the buildings to ensure that the air quality was safe for student occupancy. Air quality equates to building safety. 

All air samples collected had no levels of PCBs detected in them. 

Further sampling is scheduled to be performed by our consultant in the near future and all accessible PCB containing materials are scheduled for complete removal with the upcoming renovations. The removal of PCB’s will take place during the summer of 2013 when students and staff are on vacation.  

For further information on this issue, we have provided the following link: 

http://www.epa.gov/pcbsincaulk/caulkschoolkit.htm

Finally, any interested student, parent, or community member is invited to attend a more detailed explanation on this issue as I will be hosting a Wednesday, September 26, 7:00 p.m., open hour in the DePaolo Middle School auditorium.

Posted by jerardi in Middle School Project on Tuesday September 25, 2012 at 01:01PM
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UPDATE - Your thoughts today - for tomorrow - VISION 2020!

UPDATE - Thanks to all community members - elected and appointed government officials, parents, SPS teachers and staff, Chamber of Commerce members, business owners, and students for attending and actively participating in our community forums and for completing our surveys. Your candid input has served as the basis of the development of our District's Long-Term Strategic Plan. The plan will be presented to the Board of Education on Thursday, March 28, 2013.

ATTENTION Southington Students: How can we change the way we teach you and make sure that you have the necessary skills to be successful in college and in your careers?  Your opinion matters!! Thank you for answering the following questions by clicking on the following survey. 

Link to Student Survey:  This survey is no longer available, thank you.

The new school year is filled with excitement as we are prepared to partner with parents for the best interest of all 6,500 youngsters.  The 2012-2013 school plan centers on our continued drive to move from good to exceptional.  This will happen because of the support that we receive from the community, elected officials, and from our parent partnership. 

We are super prepared for today!  Are we prepared for tomorrow?  To learn more about our work to prepare for the future, view our informational brochure.  Vision_2020_Brochure

Part of our work this school year will be to reach consensus on a long-term plan of what students will need in the future…2020!  Therefore, could you please take a moment and share your thoughts on the following questions:

What values are important in the Southington Public Schools and the community in 2020?

After 13 years of learning in the Southington Public Schools, what skills do students in the Class of 2020 possess?

What does the classroom of 2020 look like?

What/who is in it and what are they doing?

How do students demonstrate what they are learning in 2020, and how do we use this information?

What types of partnerships exist between the Southington Public Schools and the community in 2020?

ATTENTION PARENTS/ FACULTY - Your input is critical to our long-range planning!  For a limited time, you can share your thoughts with us by completing the attached survey. 

Link to Parents/Faculty Survey:  This survey is no longer available, thank you.

In advance, I thank you.

Posted by jerardi on Tuesday August 28, 2012 at 12:27PM
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An Opportunity to Say Thank You

Annually, the Southington Board of Education recognizes outstanding staff members within its 1,100 member workforce.  The criteria for recognition starts with an employee being nominated by anyone who is familiar with that staff member’s contribution in making our district one of high quality for all children.  Nominations for our Profiles in Professionalism program will close on Monday, April 23rd.  I encourage staff, parents, and community members to download the nomination form and be a part of the process as we look to, once again, applaud the above-and-beyond efforts of our 2011-2012 exceptional workers. 

Profiles in Professionalism Nominee Form

Previous Honorees

Posted by jerardi on Monday March 26, 2012 at 12:05PM
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Safety Front and Center

Safety Front and Center I would strongly encourage parents and community members to attend two very important evening meetings:

Wednesday, March 7th - STEPS Forum – 7:00 p.m. Critical information will be shared with the Southington community on the behaviors of our grade 7-12 students. This is a discussion that every parent should attend because it will be an opportunity to fully understand the landscape of our youth in this community. The meeting will be held at the Aqua Turf and all those interested in attending should contact: southingtonsteps@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 17th – MADD (Mothers’ Against Drunk Driving) Forum: Power Talk 21 – 7:00 p.m. The Southington parent community will have an extraordinary opportunity to become proactive in the battle against underage drinking and driving. This one-hour meeting will allow all parents to fully understand all they can do to be a part of the solution. This meeting will be held in the Strong Elementary School Community Room. Additional information can be found by contacting Allison Champlin at: allison.champlin@madd.org

Posted by jerardi on Wednesday February 29, 2012 at 11:34AM
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