Carlisle School administrators say safety a top priority 

Recent changes made at the Carlisle School have improved campus safety, Superintendent Jim O’Shea told the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) on March 14. As an example, O’Shea said that after students arrive, all external doors are locked and visitors must enter via the Corey plaza door by the principals’ offices. Parents picking up preschool students may meet them at the preschool classroom door, but if they wish to come to the classroom they have to enter through the Corey door. 

O’Shea said that the school safety committee meets approximately twice a year and met most recently in January. When CSC member Josh Kablotsky asked about the status of security cameras, O’Shea explained that priority has been placed on the use of external cameras rather than cameras inside the school buildings. “We don’t feel that it is a must-do right now,” he said regarding interior cameras, noting that concerns have been expressed that they would be misused for disciplinary purposes. CSC member Christine Lear commented that it would be like a police state. 

He said that conversations were ongoing on ways to support students who wish to be involved in the “March for our Lives,” which will take place in many cities, including Boston, on March 24. If some sort of action takes place on the campus, security will be maintained. “We are making sure safety is our top priority,” said O’Shea. 

Police visit kids

O’Shea said that a school visit by the Carlisle Police was rescheduled for Friday, March 16 after it was cancelled due to the storms. Reached after the visit, Police Chief John Fisher explained that the goal of the visit was to be available for students should any have security concerns in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Both he and Officer Andrew Corwin, who is the school resource officer, joined students during two lunch periods on Friday. The officers moved around the cafeteria and sat with different middle school students. “We had so much fun,” said Fisher. He said that they shared small talk but no one asked about school security or expressed safety concerns. He said he thoroughly enjoyed it. “It was a very positive experience.”

Budget shows small reserve

In other business, Carlisle School Business Manager Susan Pray gave a brief update of the current FY18 budget through February 2018. Approximately 51% or $5,619,912 of the $10,946,247 budget has been spent, with $5,305,157 encumbered (reserved). Pray said that there is roughly $21,000 of unencumbered funds, which she said is about average for this time of year. “That’s not a ton of reserve,” said CSC Chair David Model.

Student health screening

O’Shea related that 8th-grade students were to participate in a wellness/substance abuse screening on March 19 that would be administered verbally by one of the school nurses or psychologists and consists of a number of questions regarding substance abuse. The screening is required by a 2016 state law. O’Shea explained that if concerns are found during the screening, intervention strategies for students who may be at risk will be offered to parents. O’Shea said that about three or four families had decided to opt out of the screening for their children.

Looking for video volunteer

Lear reported she is disappointed that no volunteers have stepped forward to film the school committee meetings, though a few had shown interest. She looked into using Carlisle’s allotted Concord-Carlisle Television (CCTV) filming time but found it had already been used for the month. The cost of filming each meeting is around $50. She is exploring the use of high school students. 

Kablotsky reported on his work with the Long-Term Capital Requirements Committee (LTRC), noting that this is the last year that the committee “will entertain unnamed maintenance projects.” He said that going forward, requests for maintenance projects must be submitted for consideration to the new Facility Committee. As an example, he said that a new generator for the Police Station has been approved by the Board of Selectmen but input from the Facilities Committee was not taken into consideration. “We are still wrangling [about] what process to follow,” he said. 

Policies discussed

A change was suggested to the Residency Policy to allow students to attend Carlisle if they reside in Carlisle for at least four nights each week and/or if they have one parent who is a resident of Carlisle. The policy will be voted at the next meeting. 

The committee reviewed the Field Trip Policy and the CORI Policy on background checks, both of which they determined needed more discussion. 

CSC votes no on School Choice

The CSC opened a public meeting to discuss whether to join the Massachusetts School Choice program. This program would allow students outside the district to attend the Carlisle School. Each student would come with a tuition of $5,000, much less than Carlisle’s approximately $19,000 per pupil cost (as of 2016), according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). O’Shea said that he was not recommending that the district participate in the School Choice program due to the possible effect on enrollment sizes. Lear asked what benefits the school would see in joining School Choice. Model suggested that it would bring diversity and inclusion. 

Kablotsky asked how students were chosen. O’Shea said that it is done through a lottery so there is no control on who would attend. He added that there are other programs currently in place that foster diversity, though he did not elaborate. (METCO is one such program. Through METCO, students from Boston have an opportunity to attend schools in suburban communities. The Carlisle School is not involved, but both the Concord-Carlisle High School and Concord K-8 public schools participate in METCO.) The CSC voted not to participate in School Choice, based on the unpredictability in enrollment. 

Executive session 

There are ten purposes for which the School Committee may adjourn to closed-door executive session. At the close of the March 14 meeting the CSC voted by roll call to adjourn to Executive Session, with no intent to return to open session, for four purposes: 

• Purpose 1: To discuss the reputation, character, physical condition or mental health, rather than professional competence, of an individual, or to discuss the discipline or dismissal of, or complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual;

• Purpose 2: To conduct strategy sessions in preparation for negotiations with the elementary principal or to conduct collective bargaining sessions or contract negotiations with nonunion personnel;

• Purpose 3: To discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining or litigation if an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the bargaining or litigating position of the public body; and

• Purpose 7: To comply with, or act under the authority of, any general or special law or federal grant-in aid requirements. Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 39, 23B (1)-(7). G.L. c. 30A, sec. 22(g), consideration of approval of executive session minutes from previous meetings. ∆