Highlights from the Batavia City School District (BCSD) Board of Education meeting on December 18, 2012, include the following:
• Security Procedures Reviewed
• Last BOE Meeting for Retiring Superintendent of Schools Margaret Puzio
Security Procedures Reviewed
Superintendent of Schools Margaret Puzio reported that she met with the District Management Team to review safety procedures that are currently in place, discuss ideas to improve safety, and make recommendations for items to be addressed by the Board’s Safety Committee. All principals have been reviewing safety protocol with staff to ensure that the policies that are already in place are understood and followed. In addition, the District Facebook page had several parents comment, asking questions and raising concerns about the safety of students. One concern mentioned by a few parents was the current practice of holding public votes at school buildings during school hours - because this grants the public unrestricted access to the school building. While this and other similar issues will need to be addressed by the Safety Committee, the District did release this statement earlier, posting it on its Facebook page, in order to correct misconceptions and update the Facebook participants as to what measures are being taken to address security:
“Security procedures at BHS are the same as all other district school buildings with the exception of times. Exact times vary depending on the start time for the school day. At BHS, three doors are open and supervised during student arrival time from 7:00 until 8:05. At 8:05, all doors automatically lock and remain locked throughout the school day. Visitors to the building can enter the vestibule at the main entrance, but must press the intercom to be seen by a staff member on a monitor and must state their business before being allowed entrance into the main office, where sign-in and temporary visitor badges are issued. At the end of the day, doors automatically open and remain open until a designated time in the evening. This allows athletic and other extracurricular participants to enter the building, along with pre-approved community users. We are in the process of reviewing all safety protocols at this time. Our district Safety Committee plans to meet Thursday 12/20.”
A second statement was prepared later and shared with the Board at the evening meeting:
“Our district staff and students have expressed their shock and sympathy in light of last week’s school shooting in Connecticut. Batavia Middle School students are writing cards to be delivered to the students in the Sandy Hook School District as a part of the middle school mindset – be connected.
Many parents have requested information about steps the district is taking to ensure the safety of our school buildings. As part of our last capital project, all buildings received a technology upgrade that included automatic locking outside doors that operate on timers, cameras on doors, and intercoms and monitors to control outsider access to the building. During the last two days:
• Principals have reviewed safety protocols with staff.
• We reviewed our safety procedures building by building at our Management Team meeting and highlighted several areas where we can make immediate changes to create safer environments.
• Some items were referred to a meeting of the District Safety Committee that will occur on Thursday 12/20 at 3 p.m.
• We have invited Batavia Chief of Police Shawn Heubusch to participate in this meeting. In our conversation early on Monday morning, he assured me that he and his team were meeting today to discuss the tragedy in Connecticut and steps that need to be taken here in Batavia to decrease the likelihood of a tragedy here in Batavia.
We all play a role in guarding the safety of our children. If parents or students see something out of the ordinary or if they have a suggestion, they are asked to please share it with either their school principal or Mr. Dailey, our incoming superintendent, or me. It is by working together that we will achieve the highest level of safety.”
Previously, the District had posted the following letter from Superintendent Puzio, then the update previously mentioned:
Dear Parents and Members of our School Community,
We extend our sympathy, thoughts, and prayers to our fellow educators, students, parents, and community members in Connecticut. Our children are our hope for a better future and protecting them from danger is our top priority.
As we try to make sense out of this unthinkable tragedy, please know that we take every possible precaution to ensure the safety of our school buildings and we will be especially vigilant during this week. School violence can happen anywhere, but it is still extremely rare. This will be a busy week with many classroom celebrations as our students share their excitement about the holidays and upcoming winter break. Staff members will be sensitive to students who may wish to talk about what they have seen and heard and our counselors are available for additional support. Don't hesitate to ask your principal for support or guidance if needed.
We will be reviewing all emergency procedures and safety protocols with our staff and confirming our procedures for controlling outsider entrance to the school. We will work with the Batavia Police Department as well. Ask your building principal if you have any questions about building procedures.
Thank you for your support and cooperation in keeping all of our students and staff safe.
Superintendent Puzio Retires
With this being her last official Board meeting, Superintendent Margaret Puzio thanked the Board, sharing the following:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Board, staff, parents, students, and friends of the Batavia City School District. It has been my honor and pleasure to be an educational leader in this community. I can truly say that our students are the best kids I have ever worked with in my educational career. The staff is outstanding - professional, dedicated, knowledgeable, caring, and fun. The Board of Education has changed some of its members over the last eleven years, but one thing has stayed the same - the exceptional level of leadership and dedication to doing what is right for kids.
I am looking forward to retirement, but please know that you will always have a grateful and enthusiastic cheerleader for the Batavia City School District looking on from the sidelines.
Thank you and God bless.
Likewise, Board President Wally Guenther thanked Mrs. Puzio for her years of dedication and service, noting that he respected and appreciated her commitment to the District and to the students.