District News

2-Hour Delayed Opening / November 16, 2018

posted Nov 16, 2018, 2:39 AM by BPS Webmaster

In order to provide time to clean up from last night's weather event, the Billerica Public Schools will have a 2-hour delayed opening today, Friday, November 16.

Redistricting Team Recommendation

posted Oct 30, 2018, 9:05 AM by BPS Webmaster   [ updated Oct 30, 2018, 9:06 AM ]


October 30, 2018

Members of the Billerica Community:

At last night's School Committee meeting, the Billerica Redistricting Team made their recommendation to the Committee regarding the redistricting that will occur in the 2019-2020 school year. The recommendations, voted unanimously by the team, were as follows:

1. Adopt Scenario 1 as the new attendance boundaries in the district. This involves the following changes:

All of the students within the Vining School attendance area will go to the Ditson.
Students in the Tower Farm component of the Parker School will go to the Kennedy.
Students in the Heritage and Fox Hill components of the Hajjar School will go to the Parker.

The middle schools will have the following feeder schools:

Locke Middle School: Ditson, Kennedy
Marshall Middle School: Dutile, Hajjar, Parker


2. For students that will be in Grade 4 and Grade 7 in 2019-2020, parents in a neighborhood identified as being redistricted will have the option to have their children stay in their existing school under the following conditions:

Parents/guardians are responsible for providing their own transportation
By January 1, 2019, parents/guardians most notify the school department of their intent to remain/move for the following school year
This only applies to next year's Grade 4 and Grade 7 students, and not younger siblings.


Last night's discussion was just the presentation from the Redistricting Team, and no vote was taken by the Committee. The Committee, which has the sole authority for the final decision, is scheduled to vote at their next meeting on Tuesday, November 6, although they if they require more time it can be tabled to be voted at the subsequent meeting on Monday, November 26.

Last night's presentation can be found here (the new slides are at the end of the presentation), and the School Committee has asked that any questions comments be directed to me at tpiwowar@billericak12.com, so that they can be compiled for the Committee to review.

I also want to thank the members of the Redistricting Team for their incredibly dedicated work over the last year and a half that we have worked together - they have been an amazing group!

Thank you,
Tim Piwowar, Superintendent

NESDEC Special Education Program Study

posted Apr 10, 2018, 5:46 AM by Tim Piwowar   [ updated Oct 30, 2018, 9:07 AM by BPS Webmaster ]

At the April 9, 2018 meeting of the Billerica School Committee, the NESDEC Special Education Program Study report was presented and discussed with the Committee.  The focus of the report was on "... the elementary school[s], particularly the relationship between special education and general education in supporting students' social, emotional, and behavioral needs."  Please click on the link below to download a copy of the report.

We would like to thank everyone that participated in the NESDEC visits for providing their input to the process.  We also look forward to taking the results of this work, and using the recommendations embedded within in order to strengthen our practice across the district.  In particular, the following is the list of suggestions given in the summary of the report:

- Continue and enhance district-wide dialogue among teachers, principals, central office administrators, and parents
- Redesign general education classrooms
- Streamline the RtI process
- Professional development for paraprofessionals
- Coordinate and collaborate student support services
- Continue to seek community-wide financial support

More details around these suggestions are within the report; I encourage you to contact me if you have any comments or questions.

Tim Piwowar, Superintendent

Letter to Billerica Community About School Safety

posted Feb 23, 2018, 2:54 PM by Tim Piwowar   [ updated Oct 30, 2018, 9:07 AM by BPS Webmaster ]

February 23, 2018

 

Members of the Billerica Community:

 

As we prepare for our students to return to school Monday, we are all still processing the tragic events that took place on February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  Our hearts break for the families and friends of the victims, and our minds naturally turn to worrying about the vulnerability of our own children at home and in school. 

 

For all of us, the safety and security of our children is of the utmost importance.  This is why, for many years now, the Billerica Public Schools, the Billerica Police Department, the Billerica Fire Department, and the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office have been working together to ensure that we have safety and emergency response plans in place to respond to any crisis.  These plans are reviewed and updated regularly, and we are proud of the strong working relationship that we have among all these agencies working together.  This includes our community-based justice meetings where schools, public safety officials, and the DA’s office share information to make sure that vulnerable children do not “fall through the cracks.”

 

As part of emergency response plans, we have implemented the ALICE Protocol in all of our schools in the event of an active shooter.  We have conducted these drills on an annual basis since 2015, and we are constantly working to improve our response.  For those schools that have not yet had drills this year, they will be conducted during the week of March 5, and more information will be forthcoming from building principals.

 

Although these drills are important, it is essential that we also make sure that we create warm and welcoming environments that value the worth and significance of each member of our school community.  This focus on the social and emotional health of our students has been a cornerstone of our work over the past few years, and programs like our Adopt-A-School program with patrol officers are designed to allow students to regularly see police officers as positive role models.   When students have positive relationships with their peers, their schools, and their community, the likelihood of violent behavior drops dramatically.

 

We know that it is easy to be consumed by fear after the events of Parkland.  But we also know that we cannot let this fear dominate our thinking to the point that it destroys what makes our schools such an important place of warmth, growth, and happiness in our children’s lives.  

 

Every day that our students are in schools, there are hundreds and hundreds of adults  that work to ensure their safety – teachers, nurses, social workers, paraprofessionals, custodians, secretaries, cafeteria workers, administrators, police officers, firefighters, and many, many more.  We are proud of the work that they do every day, and know that your children are in good hands under their care.

 

Timothy G. Piwowar                                                     John C. Curran                                   Daniel C. Rosa                   

Superintendent of Schools                                          Town Manager                                    Chief of Police

BPS Family Workshop and Presentation Series

posted Feb 2, 2018, 10:02 AM by BPS Webmaster   [ updated Feb 2, 2018, 10:03 AM ]

We are pleased to offer a variety of workshops and presentations for parents/guardians of Billerica Public Schools. The workshops/presentations are free and open to any parent/guardian whose child(ren) attend(s) the Billerica Public Schools.
Attached is a catalogue that lists each workshop, with the dates, times, and locations. Please note that childcare is not offered during these workshops.
The catalogue also has instructions on how to register for workshops. On-site registration is possible, provided that there is space available in the workshop.

Director of Special Education Screening Committee

posted Feb 2, 2018, 9:56 AM by BPS Webmaster   [ updated Feb 2, 2018, 9:57 AM ]

The Billerica Public Schools is currently seeking highly qualified candidates to apply for the position of Director of Special Education, which has become available for the 2018-19 school year. We have begun the processing of assembling a Screening Committee to assist in the search process. The Screening Committee will review applications, interview candidates, and recommend several candidates to the Superintendent as finalists for the position.

The Billerica Public Schools invites four (4) administrators, four (4) teachers / related service providers, one (1) paraprofessional, three (3) parents/guardians, and one (1) community member to serve on the Director of Special Education Screening Committee. People who serve on the Screening Committee should be able to attend several meetings including the candidate interview sessions. The first meeting of the Screening Committee will be held on March 5, 2018, at 3:15 p.m. in the Collins Room, located in the Billerica Town Hall. During this meeting, we will discuss the interview process, begin to review applications and develop potential interview questions. Many tasks must be accomplished during this meeting so members should plan to be available for approximately two hours. A subsequent meeting will be held on March 8 at 3:15 p.m., with screening committee interviews, scheduled the week of March 12 - 16 (Times TBD).

Selecting a new Director of Special Education is an important activity for the entire community, and it requires an extraordinary commitment of time and energy. If you are interested in serving on the Director of Special Education Screening Committee, please forward a letter of interest to Jill Geiser, Assistant Superintendent, at jgeiser@billericak12.com, no later than Friday, February 16, 2018.

Information about December 2 Election

posted Nov 27, 2017, 6:46 PM by Tim Piwowar

At the November 27, 2017 meeting of the Billerica School Committee, the Committee voted unanimously to distribute information to the community about the upcoming election on Saturday, December 2.  This information can be found in the attached document, or can be found in full text below:

November 27, 2017

 

 

Members of the Billerica Community:

 

On Saturday, December 2, a special election will be held in the Town of Billerica regarding Article 10, a budget amendment article from the Fall 2017 Billerica Town Meeting.  At the Fall Town Meeting, Article 10 passed with a vote of 126 in favor and 48 opposed.  However, provisions in the Town Charter provide for a special election to be called to vote on an action of Town Meeting if certain provisions are met.

 

The Billerica School Committee has asked me to provide information to the parent, guardian, and greater Billerica community to help ensure that citizens are appropriately informed about the December 2 election. 

 

Back in February 2015, I wrote in a similar manner to the community about the high school project, and entitled one of the sections, “Importance of Factual Information”.  Within that section, I wrote that “if misinformation is spread in the community, it should be addressed as soon as possible.”  Please allow this memo to serve a similar purpose as it relates to the December 2 election.

 

What does a “Yes” or “No” vote mean on December 2?

 

A “Yes” vote means a vote for Article 10, affirming the action of elected representatives of Town Meeting.

 

A “No” vote means a vote against Article 10, reversing the action of elected representatives of Town Meeting.

 

What is contained within the budget amendment in Article 10?

 

In total, Article 10 increased the Fiscal Year 2018 budget by $269,856 in a budget of over $141 million by making the following changes:

 

·         $100,000 to pay for Medicare expenses

·         $100,000 to pay for grounds equipment for the cemetery, parks, and trees department

·         $29,856 to fund two positions for the cemetery, parks, and trees department starting in April

·         $25,000 to pay for the special State Senate election held on July 25, 2017

·         $15,000 to pay for contractual obligations for Town Hall employees

 

What is the impact of a “no” vote on December 2?

 

The Billerica Town Manager’s Office produced slides with information about the December 2 special election that stated the impact of reversing Article 10 included:

 

·         Reversing Article 10 will put the Town in a deficit spending position which is viewed unfavorably by credit rating agencies at a time when the Town is borrowing significant funds for capital projects.

 

·         Defaulting on Union Contract Obligations could result in legal action against the Town and legal costs for the Town

 

·         Reversing capital and personnel costs for Cemetery Parks and Trees will stop the commitment of additional resources to the Cemetery, Parks, and Trees Department.

 

Is this type of budget amendment out of the ordinary?

 

No.  This has been a standard practice at Town Meeting for many years, and typical items funded through the amendments are shared costs (e.g., Medicare, debt service), personnel changes, contractual obligations, capital, and other one-time expenditures.  The list below shows the amounts of the amendments over the previous five Town Meetings, none of which went to a town-wide ballot question:

 

·         October 2016: $947,300

·         October 2015: $75,000

·         October 2014: $447,176

·         October 2013: $2,293,449

·         October 2012: $1,300,000

(Source: http://town.billerica.ma.us/161/Town-Meeting)

 

What does Article 10 have to do with fields and/or youth sports?

 

The funding for capital equipment and two part-year positions in the Cemetery, Parks, and Trees Department is the first step in a multi-year plan to upgrade the level of care and maintenance of town and school playing fields across the Town.  This plan involves the separation of the current Cemetery, Parks, and Trees Department into a separate Cemetery Department and a Parks and Trees Department. 

 

This newly created Parks and Trees Department will be designed to have sufficient resources to support the maintenance of high-quality, and equitable playing fields across the community.  During the period of transition, town employees would work alongside youth organizations to ensure that high standards for playability are maintained.

 

For more information about the specifics of this plan, please visit the Town of Billerica website at http://town.billerica.ma.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=379 and the associated slides at https://www.town.billerica.ma.us/DocumentCenter/View/7106.

 

Will the town charge permit fees for field use?  Will this increase the fees for my child to play youth sports?

 

During the first phase, there will be no change to the fee structure for field use.  Starting in Fiscal Year 2020, the Town is planning to charge permit fees for field use; however, the fees are only designed to replace the cost previously borne by youth organizations for field maintenance.  The ultimate goal is that none of this expense should be passed on to Billerica youth sports participants.

 

Will this plan increase my taxes?

 

As the goal is not to increase cost for Billerica youth sports participants, any additional costs would be absorbed by the tax levy.  The worst case scenario projects a tax impact on the median household of between $9.00 and $10.00 annually; however, as there improved care of all fields in Town will create an opportunity for greater use, this increase should be offset by increased revenue from their use.

 


 

Why is the question of fields combined with other items for the December 2 election?

 

By the Town Charter, the ballot question for the election must be in the same form that was voted upon at Town Meeting.  Town Meeting voted the budget amendment as a whole, and so the December 2 election must be presented in the same way.

 

Does Article 10 immediately turn over the responsibility of school fields to the Town?

 

No.  The Billerica School Department will continue to work with officials in the town manager’s office to develop a plan that the Committee will vote upon as part of the development of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget development process prior to the Spring 2018 Town Meeting.

 

What is the Billerica School Committee’s position on Article 10 and the field maintenance plan?

 

At their October 30 meeting, the Billerica School Committee unanimously passed a resolution in support of Article 10:

 

Resolution of Billerica School Committee

Passed 5-0 on October 30, 2017

 

 

WHEREAS the Billerica School Committee expresses a desire to improve the quality and usability of playing fields and grounds throughout the Town of Billerica;

 

WHEREAS the Billerica School Committee is committed to working collaboratively with municipal government to ensure equitable access to high quality fields for all members of the Billerica community;

 

WHEREAS the Billerica School Committee is committed to ensuring that any plan regarding the consolidation of field maintenance and care must be done thoughtfully and deliberately and must maintain prioritized access to playing fields for  school educational and athletic use;

 

WHEREAS the Billerica School Committee supports Article 10 from the Fall 2017 Town Meeting as an essential first step to the development and implementation of any such plan;

 

WHEREAS the Billerica School Committee remains committed to the care and custody of fields currently within its jurisdiction until such time as any new plan is implemented;

 

THE BILLERICA SCHOOL COMMITTEE RESOLVES TO:

 

1.       Work with municipal governmental officials to develop a detailed plan that would including turning over the custody and care of fields to the Parks and Trees Department on January 1, 2019

 

2.       With the implementation of such plan, commit to transferring money from the school department grounds budget to the municipal Parks and Trees Department budget

 

3.       Vote on the acceptance of the plan as part of the FY19 budget development process, prior to the Spring 2018 Town Meeting

 

October 2017 Update from Billerica Redistricting Team

posted Oct 23, 2017, 6:00 AM by Tim Piwowar

The linked update below was provided as an update from the Billerica Redistricting Team to the School Committee at its meeting on October 13, 2017. The Redistricting Team is charged with developing a proposed redistricting plan for 2019 and presenting it to the School Committee by the end of summer 2018. The Redistricting Team can be contacted by email at redistricting@billericak12.com

Parent Math Workshop

posted Oct 3, 2017, 11:58 AM by BPS Webmaster

Billerica Public Schools is pleased to announce the first Parent Math Workshop planned for this school year.

Thursday, October 12, 2017 (6:30 - 8:00 PM)
Location: Parker Elementary School

(see attached flyer for more details)


Redistricting Team Survey - Priorities

posted Sep 14, 2017, 11:48 AM by Tim Piwowar   [ updated Sep 14, 2017, 11:50 AM ]

The Redistricting Team is seeking your feedback about priorities for our work - please fill out our survey at http://tinyurl.com/BPSpriorities!

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