• In this Edition

    1. What’s New?  
      1. Coast Guard Selects BHS for New JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Cadet) Program
      2. BPS focuses on literacy K-5 through “GLEAM”
    2. School Committee News – FY 25 Budget Development Dates and Information
    3. Free Resources for Parents/Caregivers on Supporting Your Child - From Massachusetts Partnership for Youth
    4. In Case You Missed It: Families Updating Contact Information
    5. School Calendar Survey Data and 3 Drafts for 2024-2025
    6. BPS Spotlight – School Resource Officers
    7. Helpful links

    What’s New?

    Coast Guard Selects BHS for New JROTC Program

    Barnstable Public Schools is pleased to announce that the United States Coast Guard has selected Barnstable High School as a host school for a new Coast Guard JROTC unit, to be established in the upcoming ’24-‘25 school year. The program is designed for high school students and provides instruction in four levels of maritime science courses taught by experienced military personnel. This new pathway includes a focus on leadership, civics and citizenship, health and wellness, community service, orienteering, and military drill. Barnstable High School is honored to join high schools in Oregon, Hawaii, Texas, and Florida in becoming new host schools among the Coast Guard’s 16 JROTC programs. Students will be able to select this program as part of their course selection in the spring of 2024. 

    BPS Focuses on Literacy K-5 through GLEAM

    In the spring of 2023, Barnstable Public Schools applied for, and was awarded, an early literacy grant through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education – Growing Literacy Equity Across Massachusetts (GLEAM).  This 2.5 year grant is designed to (a) support districts in the review and selection of high quality instructional materials and (b) align supportive structures to improve literacy outcomes for all students kindergarten through grade 5.  As part of this grant, Barnstable Public Schools has partnered with TNTP, a national non-profit organization, to support the comprehensive process of curriculum selection and professional development.  

    Highlights of the work completed to date include: 

    • A deep analysis of existing curricular materials, instructional practices, and feedback from a wide range of stakeholder groups.
    • The establishment of the “GLEAM Team” that includes representation from the K - 5 schools and a cross-section of educator roles. The development of a process for review of curricular options that resulted in the decision to pilot Amplify CKLA and EL Education.
    • Three professional development sessions on Evidence-Based Literacy Practices
    • Began a 9-week pilot of Amplify CKLA and EL Education on January 29th
    • Ongoing support for pilot teachers in the form of drop in sessions with the publishers.

    Future work will include:

    • Gathering feedback from pilot teachers to evaluate the alignment of the curricular resources to established criteria.
    • Building consensus from stakeholder groups on the selection and purchase of a single program to begin implementation in the Fall of 2024.
    • Professional development to support all educators in the implementation of the selected curriculum materials.

    If you want to learn more, please visit the district webpage to view GLEAM monthly newsletters and learn more about the curriculum materials that are being field tested.

    School Committee News – FY25 Budget Development Calendar

    The School Committee has initiated the budget development process with an initial presentation on the FY 25 budget on February 7, 2024, and a budget workshop on February 14, 2024.

    The Superintendent’s recommended budget will be presented on March 6, 2024, and the budget hearing is anticipated for March 20, 2024.

    A major factor influencing the development of this year’s budget is the expiration of ESSER funds, which were funds provided to support schools’ needs during and in the years following the pandemic.

    Information about the school budget can be found on the Barnstable Public Schools website

    School Calendar Survey/Draft Calendars for 2024-2025

    Thank you to the nearly 550 families who completed the survey regarding half days/early releases and parent-teacher conferences. Both staff (48.1%) and families (51.2%) preferred half-days over early releases every other week. Families (56.9%) preferred Fridays over other days of the week, where staff (53.7%) preferred Wednesdays. However, feedback from the high school as related to the school schedule is that Friday is a better day. 

    As a result, draft calendars have been created and presented to the School Committee that preserve half-days for professional development and proposes these days to be on Fridays. We also responded to family and staff preference for the placement of half days for parent-teacher conferences, moving K-3 earlier into October, grades 4-7 to November, and preserving PreK in December.

    The draft calendars also include a school day on Good Friday, which is a proposed change for next year. This is a result from community feedback regarding inclusivity, as other religious holidays are not recognized by the school calendar. 

    The calendar will be voted upon at the March 6, 2024 School Committee meeting.

    More information can be found on the School Committees page - see the Meeting Agendas and Minutes 2019 to Present to access the meeting materials from February 7, 2024. 

    Resources for Parents/Guardians/Caregivers – from MPY

    Barnstable Public Schools is a member of the Massachusetts Partnership for Youth. MPY wishes to share the following announcement:

    Massachusetts Partnerships for Youth (MPY) is pleased to announce its new, free MPY Parenting Solutions Library. MPY is offering the MPY Parenting Solutions Library in partnership with Peace At Home Parenting Solutions, a non-profit located in Mansfield, Connecticut. Through this new partnership, MPY is pleased to offer proven resources to help students’ families thrive. 

    Peace At Home Parenting Solutions specializes in empowering parents with evidence-based strategies to foster nurturing connections that safeguard their children's mental well-being. The Parenting Solutions Library may easily be accessed using the link on MPY’s home page (www.mpyinc.org). No log in or passcode is needed.

    Families Updating Contact Information

    Verifying student information for your enrolled PK-12 student(s) is very important.  The information includes important contact, medical, legal and consent information.  Accurate contact information helps us communicate with you about school or district information, progress reports, events and weather situations.  

    Please Take Time Now to Update Your Emergency Contact Information!

    BPS is using a new system to verify student information and we are hopeful that it will be an easier, more streamlined process for families.  Parents and guardians will now log in directly to Aspen, our student system and central point of information for registration, academics, attendance, and Annual Update of emergency information.

    The Family & Students section of the BPS website contains information about Annual Update and is located here: Annual Update. The web site includes a guide for parents and guardians and frequently asked questions. 

    With the Aspen system, there is a slight change in how parents and guardians will access Aspen.  Access to Aspen will no longer be done using the student ID and date of birth. Instead, parents and guardians will create their own Aspen account using their own email address and setting their own password.  Many parents and guardians have already created their own account in Aspen.  For those who have not yet created an account, BPS will email a code tomorrow to the primary contact that will include instructions for setting up the account.  If you do not receive an email, you may have an account already or please check the spam/trash folder of your email account.  If the primary parent or guardian does not have an email address on file in Aspen, please create an account with an email provider of your choice and contact the Administrative Assistant of your school(s).

    One of the advantages of using Aspen for Annual Update is that any time the information changes for your student(s), you can complete the Annual Update as often as needed to update the information.

    Providing this updated information allows your student(s) educators and nurses to safely provide care for your students and is important in having current, accurate information for communication purposes. Your prompt attention completing the Annual Update for your student(s) is very much appreciated.

    A BPS Spotlight – School Resource Officers

    School Resource Officer (SRO): (Noun) Kind and caring, selfless rockstar who lives to guide others, loves to encourage, and makes the world a happier place.   (Synonyms) superstar, problem solver, happiness-maker – Author unknown

    It may not be the definition commonly found. However, it could be a perfect match with the description of an SRO shared by many Barnstable students.

    The Barnstable Police Department school resource program began with a focus on a prevention education initiative, D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), at what was the Fifth Grade School. In its early years, there was an officer present at Barnstable Intermediate School (BIS) and Barnstable High School (BHS). Over time it has evolved into its own unit. Currently, the unit has an officer partnering with every school, as well as a community resource officer at the Hyannis Youth Community Center. 

    Sargeant (Sgt.) Gene Desruisseaux, best known as Officer Geno, has been the supervisor for four years, overseeing the three full-time officers as well as several part-time officers. The number one overarching purpose of the SRO unit is to ensure the safety of all students and staff in every building. At the core of that work is building relationships. “By having us in the schools, building relationships early on, kids learn they can trust the police,” Sgt. Desruisseaux emphasized. “Building that trust with the students and the staff is the foundation of everything we do.”

    Every day is different for each SRO. Responsibilities include building security checks, conducting drills, and staff training. All three officers highlight the importance of being visible throughout their respective schools. It’s about greeting students as they arrive in the morning, bantering in the cafeteria during lunch, and most of all, always having an open door. Availability is the key to building those relationships. 

    For Sgt. Chris Ross, the SRO at West Villages Elementary School, it is about consistently engaging with the students, whether it be reading to the kids, sharing lunch block with them, or joining in for recess. “I like to get right on their level,” Sgt. Ross said. “It’s important for kids to see me act a little goofy or a little silly.” 

    Officer David Downs, a fixture at BIS, expressed that it is not just being an officer in a uniform. “I coach football with 40 kids, and we have 30 cheerleaders,” he commented. Stepping into his coaching role allows Downs the opportunity to interact with the kids in a different context. “That means at any given time, 15 to 20 kids may be in my office looking for a snack and asking me about the family pictures on my bulletin board. They get to see me as a dad too,” Downs noted. “It allows kids to look beyond the badge.”

    Often meeting an SRO is the first positive experience a student has with a police officer. During Officer Downs’ first year, one student in particular expressed great reluctance. “I don’t talk to cops,” the student stated. Not willing to accept that, Downs replied, “By the end of the year, we are going to be the best of friends.” His determination kicked in, and before long the two unlikely friends were having lunch together and the student became a frequent visitor to Downs’ office.

    While sharing a friendly face is important, the role of an SRO extends much farther. As Barnstable Police officers, SROs have connections woven throughout the community. They are able to problem solve and facilitate finding resources for students including housing, mental health counseling, and substance abuse support.

    If there is a single word to describe what is at the heart of the work of an SRO, it is passion – passion to make a difference. “It’s knowing every time we come into that school, we have an opportunity to help someone out,” Sgt. Desruisseaux reflected. Knowing that you have touched a child’s life is perhaps the greatest reward. “To see the kids in the high school that I knew in elementary school and have them recognize me tells me I have made an imprint.” Sgt. Ross remarked. 

    The resounding common theme from the three officers was a feeling of pride in being a part of the Barnstable community. Passion and pride, a combination that exudes a message to every student: You Belong in Barnstable.

    A BPS SpotlightHere, BPS will highlight the positive contributions from among members of our community. This is brought to you by the Community Connections Committee.

    Have a future spotlight to recommend to the Community Connections Committee?  Fill out this form.

    Helpful Links