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Superintendent's Update

Superintendent's Update - October 2019

Dear Greenwich Public Schools,

The school year is well underway, and as I reflect on the first 7 weeks, it’s clear to see that all of our schools are off to a wonderful and busy start to the year. On a personal note, I have enjoyed visiting our schools and getting to know students, staff and families in Greenwich. Thank you for the warm welcome. This note to you all serves as the first of my periodic community Superintendent’s Updates. I will share these to make sure that we are keeping our school and broader community well informed.

Where to get your GPS news?

We are working hard to provide more information for families in a variety of platforms to keep you well informed of everything that is happening across the District.

●     NEW this year: The GPS District Digest. It is a weekly newsletter showcasing various activities and schools from across the District. If you have not subscribed, we would encourage you to do so; it’s open to anyone who is interested in staying up-to-date on all that is happening at our schools. And your neighborhood school is sure to be featured!
Sign up here! (*Sign-up only requires a name and email)

●     Social Media:

       ○     Twitter: Provides a glimpse of celebrations, weather-related announcements, and amazing extra-curricular and classroom 
              activities happening around the District.
              Follow:  @GPSDistrict      @DrJones_GPS

       ●     Facebook: We are working on creating a robust District Facebook page and would encourage you all to “like” our page.
              We’ll share programming photos, special events, video content and more! It remains a work-in-progress, but we are excited
              to launch the page this year.

Weather and Emergency Alerts

This morning’s two-hour delay was due to downed power lines and trees, and road closures across parts of Greenwich, which affect our students who travel by bus and those who travel by car from those affected areas. I do not make these types of decisions lightly, as I know any schedule changes can cause disruptions to parents, caretakers and staff. However, my first priority is always the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff, so any reports of dangerous conditions from the Greenwich Department of Public Works and the Greenwich Police Department will greatly impact those decisions.

GPS utilizes a wide variety of alert systems for weather-related delays, early releases, and closures. These include: multiple television channels, the homepage of our website, WGCH 1490AM, our local radio station, Parent Link emails and voicemails, and our District Twitter (@GPSDistrict). We encourage families to utilize several sources to confirm issues as power outages, phone line challenges, and other weather-related conditions can render one of these methods for communication unavailable. Twitter and our District website will usually be the fastest way to learn of any information as social media and our website updates are instant; television, radio and third-party websites may have some delay. Please note: we do realize that this morning some parents received two emails and two voicemails, this should be a one-time issue. If you did not receive any voicemail or email, please follow-up with your respective child’s school to ensure you haven’t inadvertently opted out of communications and/or make sure your information is in our systems accurately.

Parent Resources Page & Curriculum Information

The PTA has been asking for more information on the website, so GPS has started a robust Parent Resources section on the website where information, resources and more are available. District Curriculum is one area where parents have asked for more information. As such, the Math and Science curriculum K-5 has been posted. We will continue to grow and enhance the information all year.
Parent Resources

Vaping and Risks

Connecticut has been proactive in trying to stop the rapid increase of e-cigarettes and vaping with our teenagers. Vaping is a real issue that impacts both high school and middle school students. After speaking with GHS Student Government, the students believe that the most recent media stories about young individuals dying from vaping has resonated with students, and they are paying attention. We encourage parents to have a discussion with your children. The Behavioral Health Action Organization of Southwestern Connecticut reported that there have been at least 3 deaths in Connecticut connected to vaping. Effective October 1, 2019, e-cigarettes and vaping products are illegal for stores to sell to our young people under the age of 21. GPS posted the most recent letter from the Commissioner of Education in the Parent Resources section of the website. The American Lung Association has a website dedicated to “Vape Talk” which is very informative, and includes pictures of the vaping devices which look very similar to flash drives.

Parent Information Sessions

This year, GPS will be hosting several family information evenings for those who are interested in learning more. As I travel around the District, I hear common themes or questions, and the topics of these informational sessions are a direct response to what I’m hearing from you all.

On November 20, 2019, there will be an informational School Safety and Security Forum including Police Chief Heavey, GPS Director of Security, Thomas Bobkowski, and several other contributors. The Forum will be at GHS from 7:00-8:00pm.

Coming soon: Mental Health Awareness for Teens and a GPS Curriculum Forum Evening. We also have a Special Education survey to be launched in November and Special Education focus groups which will happen in the Spring with an outside consultant as part of our review this year.

Stay tuned for dates!

Capital Projects on the Move

Currently GPS has several projects moving forward. The Board of Education has a 15-year Master Plan which guides the path. We are in the process of putting a short video together in order to help the community understand what’s in the Master Plan and will share it through our channels, once ready.

Julian Curtiss: Just beginning! The Feasibility Committee will be working with an architect this year to bring the Board of Education an Educational Specification. JC is the next elementary school on the list for a renovation and expansion.

Hamilton Avenue Field: The soil came back clear and the project is full-steam ahead. We hope to be getting a shovel in the ground next summer to level out the play space.

GHS and Western Fields: A team from the Board of Education and Town of Greenwich traveled to Hartford in August and October to work with various agencies, such as DEEP and the EPA to gather guidance on moving forward. We will have another update within the coming weeks. 

Central Field: The soil came back clear, so the engineers are hard at work preparing options for the Board of Education to discuss this year. 

Cardinal Stadium Bleachers: The Board of Education will be discussing replacement of the bleachers during the October and November meetings. The bleachers were fixed with a temporary solution for this year, but a permanent solution must be decided soon. 

GHS Entryway: The Feasibility Committee is just starting, and the work to formulate a strong Educational Specification for the Board of Education to consider is deemed critical work. The goal of the project is to increase security for the school’s entryway.

Thank you for a wonderful start to the school year!  We are honored to have the opportunity to teach your children. 

Dr. Toni Jones

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