In the wake of the recent school shooting in Florida, I – like you – have been processing this tragedy and what it means for our schools. It has become increasingly clear that locked facilities, surveillance cameras, panic alarms, School Resource Officers, lockdown drills, and so many other safety and security efforts that Framingham and other school districts have established – largely since Columbine – can never completely guarantee safety and security for our students and staff.
Although we maintain the levels of security that I just named – and more to come as part of the FY2019 budget – I believe that we need to double-down on our relationships with students if we truly want to keep our schools safe and secure.
Connecting with students when they arrive at school in the morning, building relationships with students in our classrooms, during passing time in the hallways, at practice or rehearsal, as they leave our schools at the end of the day, during championship games, festivals, and everywhere where our students thrive is our best hope at ensuring the safety and security of our schools. It stands to reason that by knowing our students well, we will build our own early warning indicator mechanism so that we can provide interventions or make referrals to families as we see changes in student behavior.
We can always add more security to our schools (and perhaps we need to do just that), but we also have the opportunity right now to reinvest ourselves in our relationships with students and colleagues as a proactive investment in nurturing a safe school environment.
I know that this has been a difficult week for all of us and there is understandably a concern of vulnerability given the work we do everyday in our schools, but please know that you are valued as an extension of the families who trust us each day and certainly valued by me as a district leader who is committed to building relationships and keeping our students and staff safe.
Thank you for all that you do for our children everyday and for giving yourself to the important cause of public education!