This week our school board held a special joint meeting with the Concord City Council. I appreciate this opportunity to collaborate and discuss issues that affect both of our constituencies.
You can watch the video of the meeting here.
The agenda included MDUSD updates as well as the following presented by the city:
Report on the Concord Community Reuse Project at the Former Concord Naval Weapons Station
- Developer was selected last week. Term sheet to be presented in November, and Specific Plan in January. It is a long term plan for over the next 30-40 years, beginning first with building a Center for First Responders and a park.
Presentation on City of Concord Facilitated Traffic Safety Improvements Around School Site
- I’m so excited to see flashing stop signs and other improvements completed and planned for this year! See locations in the report.
Presentation on Tobacco Regulations in Concord
- Our MDUSD school board in January 2020 passed a resolution asking all cities to pass strong tobacco ordinances to prevent targeting of youth via flavors, vapes and low cost. The city of Concord passed their ordinance this year, which goes into effect starting in October. Use the Concord Connect App to report any illegal sales or marketing to minors.
Presentations on School Resource Officers (SROs)
- Concord police proposed creating 4 new SRO positions at a cost of $280,000 each, 1 per high school.
- At public comment, parents requested a Safe Gun Storage City Ordinance, and supported evidence based gun safety measures such as secure gun storage notices, anonymous reporting systems, trauma informed crisis intervention programs, mental health and counseling.
The city council members did not respond to the idea of a Safe Gun Storage Ordinance. Three of the city council members expressed strong support for SROs (school resource officers), saying the city would consider fully funding them. One council member shared that she heard positive comments about the prior SROs from principals and families.
For us as a school board, this was the first time a discussion of SROs has occurred since we removed them from our budget in 2020. I expressed that I do not support spending any school district funds on police, because I don't feel that is a school district's role, and because it would take away dollars from an already underfunded education system.
I also believe that we need to follow evidence based strategies, which I’ve been advocating for for years by sharing this fact sheet on research based approaches to create safer schools. Our district has made progress on these approaches during my tenure by:
- notifying families regularly about secure firearms storage including Be SMART
- investing in the Sandy Hook Say Something Anonymous Reporting System (currently training staff and soon to be rolled out to students and families at every middle and high school)
- Creating and supporting Wellness Centers at high schools and middle schools
- Partnering with organizations that bring cultural relevance and a presence at our school sites to help build stronger relationships with students and families (e.g. Family Purpose, My Other Brother)
- Helping students learn to regulate emotions (e.g. A Mindful Life Project)
- Embedding social emotional learning strategies into classroom practices
- Implementing facility security enhancements (e.g. door locks, fencing)
- Training school staff on how to respond to an active shooter and clarifying site protocol for a variety of emergency scenarios
Approval of Concord High Mascot Change
At our August 16th board meeting, we voted 4-1 to approve the proposal to change the Concord High mascot to the Bears. With the amount of gun violence nationwide in schools and communities, the male minuteman soldier holding a rifle was a symbol that many expressed discomfort with. I am proud that we voted to support the student & staff goal of a more welcoming, inclusive mascot that all could rally around for years to come.
Superintendent Report on School Opening
It’s wonderful to see all the photos of how creative our teachers and staff are in creating welcoming, engaging spaces, and of student smiles that first week of school. The MDUSD human resources team worked tirelessly to fill as many vacancies as possible, recruiting teachers and staff with outreach far and wide. I’m so thankful how people throughout our district really pulled together to ensure a smooth and positive start to the school year.