February 23, 2018


This week, our schools safely welcomed back nearly 3,000 students from the long President's Day weekend.  Last week's tragedy in Florida continues to stir raw emotions in us all.  Before the week ends, I would like to offer all of our parents some resources that might be helpful, as well as an assurance that safety and security are at the very top of the list of our priorities as we educate your children. 


As national and local debates swirl, I would like to bring the discussion to the here and now, and to share some very concrete resources for parents and educators to use with children.  Processing the horrific events of last week can be challenging for most adults.  Children process such events in different ways, particularly depending on their developmental stage, from preschool right through high school.    The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has developed a very succinct set of tips to assist you in helping your child feel safe, as well as suggesting what might be best to emphasize when talking with children about such events.  This link should prove to be helpful for parents and educators alike. 


If you find yourself searching for school-based resources for your child or yourself, I encourage you to reach out to your child's building principal, or any member of our school-based mental health team (i.e. school counselors, school psychologists, social workers, etc.).  Additionally, though a strong partnership with Madison Youth and Family Services (MYFS), our schools offer assistance with clinicians that serve our students in the school setting, as well as outside school hours at MYFS offices.  MYFS can be reached at 203-245-5645. 


Sadly, the unspeakable tragedy of Sandy Hook ushered in a new era of school security measures.  As you'll note, once the school day begins, the perimeter of each school is locked and entrance is only granted by the main office.  Additionally, in partnership with the Madison Police Department, the district employs two full-time police officers (Officer Bull and Officer Rosati) who patrol our schools each and every day at arrival and dismissal times, as well as the halls, cafeterias, and playgrounds of our schools throughout the entire day.  You will see their patrol cars placed prominently in the front of our schools. 


A district Safety Committee, comprised of school personnel, specially trained officers from the Madison Police Department, emergency first responders, and town emergency personnel, developed a comprehensive district safety and security plan five years ago.  The Safety Committee meets throughout the school year to monitor overall school safety, to initiate new actions where appropriate, and to recommend updates to the district safety and security plan as needed.  Each school also regularly convenes their school-based teams with the same mission.  Furthermore, through a commitment from the town and Board of Education over the years, significant resources have been committed to our schools for advanced communication systems, security camera surveillance, door locking mechanisms, and training for preventive and responsive measures. 


School-based personnel practice safety drills on a monthly basis, ranging from "fire drill" evacuations to shelter-in-place drills. 


In a comprehensive effort to ensure emotional safety and well-being, three years ago a district-wide Whole Child Wellness Committee was formed.  This group of professionals is comprised of teachers, administrators, district mental health providers, and representatives from Madison Youth and Family Services.  The district's proactive and responsive measures to address social/emotional and developmental well-being is monitored and initiated from this team. 


Some of you may have heard the students from Parkland articulate a powerful voice over the past week.  I, for one, have been moved by their relentless passion and sophisticated message.  Student voice is something that we, as a school district, value and endeavor to amplify.  I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the growing movement among our students, and their genuine desire to express themselves to effect change.  We will work with our student body to create an opportunity for all school community members to be involved in expressing a message in a manner that represents our students well, and in a way that is heard beyond the borders of our campus.  Our middle school students at Polson, inspired by their PTO, and under the careful direction of Principal Frank Henderson, will be writing letters of support to students in Florida.  Our high school students, in close partnership with their Principal, TJ Salutari, will be working to develop programs to express their message to put an end to school violence.  Our students need our support and guidance.  You can be assured that we will step up to help guide their way, side by side.  They will make us proud.       


On Wednesday, I reminded our staff of a message I delivered to all district personnel in August in a keynote address at the start of the school  year.  This was an event in which I invited nearly 30 community members to join our entire team, including local faith leaders, elected officials, youth sports commissioners, etc.   I stand by the words I delivered in August, namely that this generation is experiencing way too many "firsts", too many of which are destructive.  We can change that.  Action.  Massive action with purpose.  It starts locally with one person, or a group, that has unreasonable expectations for a better world, a better life. These expectations at first might be considered a "moon shot".  But suddenly it grows.  History is tattered with these stories.  Maybe our students, maybe our community, is where it starts.  From my experience in this community, I wouldn't bet against it. 


In closing, please forgive the long message.  I want to assure all parents that if you have any concerns or questions, you are strongly encouraged to contact your child's principal, or my office directly.   


Thomas Scarice

Superintendent of Schools

Madison Public Schools

Madison, CT 06443



Madison Public Schools

10 Campus Drive • Madison, CT 06443 • (203) 245-6300

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