Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson informed the Board of Education Tuesday, March 19, that the dates for the Newtown Middle School Moving Up Ceremony and the Newtown High School graduation have been set with Western Connecticut State University’s O’Neill Center.
Also during the meeting, the school board moved to acknowledge the last day of school for the 2012-13 calendar be June 21, and that no days will be removed from the scheduled April break, if there are further school cancellations.
At its meeting on January 23, the board voted to apply for a waiver with the state that would exempt the entire school district from having to complete the 180 required days of school, should there be further school cancellations.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the school board voted unanimously to have Dr Robinson work with John Reed, who was voted to be interim superintendent in the district at the meeting, as the process for searching for principals for the district continues.
An Update On The SERVE Grant
Melissa Brymer, director of terrorism and disaster programs at the University of California, Los Angeles, Duke National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, also spoke during the board meeting. Dr Robinson said Dr Brymer is part of a team that came to Newtown following 12/14. Dr Brymer has also been overseeing the district’s application for the South Eastern Regional Vision for Education (SERVE) grant.
According to Dr Brymer, the grant was submitted by the school district two weeks ago, and the Department of Education is set to meet regarding the application on Friday, March 22.
Since starting the process of working in Newtown, Dr Brymer said she and team members have met with a range of people from town, including teachers, parents, and district administrators. The goal of the meetings, Dr Brymer said, was to put together data about what could be done to serve the needs of the town.
“We also know we need to be trying thinking about the long-term,” said Dr Brymer, noting the students effected by that day will be with the district until their graduation.
In most cases Dr Brymer said the grant normally helps for an 18-month period, but in this case, she recommended looking at a longer timeframe.
Dr Brymer said her team is looking at multiple aspects of how to help the town heal.
“We do know there needs to be coordination,” Dr Brymer said, “…a centralization of this recovery program.”
Throughout meetings, Dr Brymer said, it has been noted that everyone is tired, and the town needs to begin dealing with some aspects of healing.
She shared some recommendations she said her team plans to make for the district, including providing help for teachers by hiring permanent substitute teachers, and making sure wellness activities are continued to be held.
“I’m thrilled that you’ve got this all organized,” said Mr Vouros to Dr Brymer, after she said her team is also working to help coordinate other grant efforts. “It is very comforting to hear that there is a global plan for this.”