Friday, November 17, 2017

Steel Nearing Completion at BMHS

With Town Hall closed today, I had to find another place to work in the district, and so I found myself working out of Mr. Murphy's office at BMHS. And what a great sight to see out of his window as work was continuing on the last steel phase of the high school project - the auditorium area:


Thank you to the entire construction (Shawmut), design (Perkins + Will), and project management (Leftfield) team for keeping us on schedule and about to reach another milestone!

Monday, October 30, 2017

School for October 31

Thank you all for your patience with today's aftermath of the storm.  We have been continuing to assess the situation in town throughout the day, and as of this moment we have power at seven of our nine school buildings; the Hajjar and Vining are still without power, and we are not optimistic that power will be restored by morning.  As such, we are putting the following plan into place:

1. The seven buildings with power - BMHS, Locke, Marshall, Ditson, Dutile, Kennedy, and Parker - will be open as scheduled tomorrow.

2. If either the Hajjar or the Vining regain power by 6:15 tomorrow morning, school will be open; otherwise, both schools will be closed.  A message will go out to parents in those schools at 6:15 tomorrow morning with the announcement of the status of the schools.

3. If either the Hajjar or the Vining are closed, we will work with staff and the parents in those buildings to identify a makeup date later in the school year.

In addition, the Town of Billerica would like everyone to know that Trick-Or-Treating has been postponed until Friday evening, during the same scheduled hours of 5-8pm.

Thank you again for your patience and understanding,

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Update From Redistricting Team

At last week's School Committee meeting, I provided an update on the work of our Redistricting Team. This team is charged with developing a redistricting plan for implementation in the fall of 2019, and recommending it to the School Committee by the end of summer 2018.

The full update can be found on our Billerica 2019 Transition website; however, I wanted to state here the strongest guiding principles for the team's work, as informed by the surveys we conducted.  Those guiding principles are:

  • Regardless of what schools children attend, there should be equity in educational experiences - particularly as it relates to class size and resources
  • It is important to keep neighborhoods and school populations together as students progress through the system from elementary school to middle school
  • It is important to minimize the physical distance between students/families and the schools they attend
We will continue to provide periodic updates on our work, and questions specific to the Redistricting Team can be sent to redistricting@billericak12.com.  We have also created an email address for general questions about the transition; they can be directed to transition2019@billericak12.com

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Recognizing Great Things in Billerica Schools

As the calendar turned to October, we began a new campaign to recognize all of the great things that are happening every day across the Billerica Public Schools! Each morning, we will be posting a brief picture and story of something that is happening in the district on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/BillericaPS - whether it is a large one-time event, or something that is part of our everyday practice - because our students and staff do amazing things every day and deserve to be celebrated!

Check it out!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Town Meeting Funds Capital Projects for Schools

Last night at Billerica's Town Meeting, representatives overwhelmingly approved a $1,000,000 spending article for capital improvements across the district.  My thanks go out to Town Meeting representatives for their support, and to our team in the district for putting together our plan.

The list of projects presented at Town Meeting last night is below; the vast majority of this work (my necessity) will be done during times when school is not in session in order to not impact school for students and staff.  The full presentation can be found at http://tinyurl.com/BPSFall17TM.


  • Kennedy School: Supply and install new 2nd floor hallway ceilings and new LED lighting (phase 3 of 3): $63,000
  • Kennedy School: Asbestos abatement of VCT flooring in Cafe and replace with new VCT: $50,000
  • Dutile/Kennedy Schools: Playground structure improvements: $96,000
  • Locke School: Asbestos abatement of VCT flooring in Cafe and foyer hall and replace with new VCT: $97,000
  • Locke School: Repave bus loop: $40,000
  • Marshall School: Asbestos abatement of VCT in Cafe and replace w/new VCT: $71,000
  • Marshall School: Asbestos abatement of VCT in N wing and replace w/rubber (phase 3 of 4): $169,000
  • Marshall School: Asbestos abatement of VCT in S wing and replace w/rubber (phase 4 of 4): $210,000
  • Marshall School: Partial locker replacement: $51,000
  • Ditson School: Bridge paving (phase 3 of 3): $59,000
  • Multiple schools: Carpet replacement: $45,000
  • Multiple schools: Cafe table replacement: $19,000
  • Multiple schools: Ceiling panel coating: $30,000

Monday, July 31, 2017

Redistricting Team - Seeking Input


Weekly Construction Update - July 31, 2017

Work has continued to happen at a rapid pace on the high school site throughout the summer, and steel work is continuing to proceed very well!  Since these stories are best told through pictures:

 View from the southwest corner of the site

 Looking at the two southern academic wings (areas C and D)

Panoramic picture from the west side of the site 

 Looking down the main hallway of the academic building from the north

Looking at the steel for the academic areas (C, D, E) from the east

Here is the list of construction activities for the coming week:
  • Site utilities are ongoing
  • Temp storm water facilities are in place and continue to function as expected
  • Under-slab coordination is complete; Slab On Deck ("SOD") pours are scheduled to start within the next week and Slab On Grade ("SOG") pours following in early August
  • Foundations are 99% complete
  • Continued waterproofing, insulation, backfilling, compaction, and grading operations are ongoing throughout the site
  • Structural steel is complete at building C, nearing completion at building D, and underway at building E.
  • Coordination of brick and mortar selection, as well as planning for important masonry detailing, is underway with the masonry trade contractor
  • Mock-ups for masonry selection and ultimately all other facade materials are in the planning stages as the applicable sub-contractors are bought out
  • Items expected to commence in August include spray-on fireproofing ("SOFP") and roof blocking with main branches for HVAC and Fire Protection following towards September 

Introducing the Redistricting Team

In September 2019, the Billerica Public Schools will be going through a grade reconfiguration with the new Billerica Memorial High School opening for Grades 8-12, the two middle schools shifting to Grade 5-7 buildings, and the five remaining elementary schools serving Grades K-4.  We will also be closing the Vining School at the end of the 2018-19 school year.  For more information about the reconfiguration, please visit our FAQ document at http://tinyurl.com/bpsgradefaq.

These changes will require a redrawing of attendance lines for all elementary and middle schools across the district in order to provide the best education for all students in Billerica.  As this process will impact each of our schools, the Billerica Redistricting Team was formed and will be seeking input from the community throughout the process.  The Redistricting Team is composed of school personnel and parents representing each current elementary school attendance area and the members are:

Diana Aguila, Parent, Hajjar District (diana.aguila@pega.com)
Christine Balzotti, Principal, Dutile ES (cbalzotti@billericak12.com)
Jennifer Bartes, Parent, Ditson District (jrbartes@gmail.com)
Tracey Burke, Parent, Vining District (traceybrown76@msn.com)
Rebecca Chaffee, Parent, Kennedy District (rchaffee@comcast.net)
Michael Domina, Parent, Dutile District (mdomina71@yahoo.com)
James Gately, Chair, Billerica School Committee (jgately@billericak12.com)
Jill Geiser, Assistant Superintendent (jgeiser@billericak12.com)
Rob Haggerty, Parent, Parker District (robert.haggerty@rsa.com)
Robin Hulsoor, Director of Finance and Operations (rhulsoor@billericak12.com)
David Marble, Principal, Kennedy ES (dmarble@billericak12.com)
George McCormack, Assistant Business Administrator (gmccormack@billericak12.com)
Tim Piwowar, Superintendent (tpiwowar@billericak12.com)
Mike Rossi, Principal, Marshall MS (mrossi@billericak12.com)
Suzanne Sullivan, Principal, Parker ES (sgsullivan@billericak12.com)

Later today, the team will be putting out its first survey to solicit input from the community about what is important in this process; we value your thoughts and hope you will share them with us!


Grade Configuration FAQ



BILLERICA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
GRADE CONFIGURATION
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

As you are probably aware, the Billerica Public Schools are currently building a new Billerica Memorial High School that will serve Grades 8-12.  This was approved by the Billerica School Committee and Billerica Memorial High School Building Committee in March 2015 in order to address educational and facility needs in the district.  Below, please find some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about this new configuration.

Where did the idea of a Grade 8-12 high school originate?
This idea came out of the district’s comprehensive master facilities plan that was developed in 2012, and is designed to address both educational and facility needs in the district.  It originated during a series of educational visioning sessions done as part of the development of the plan.  During those sessions, we had about 50-60 participants that included administrators, teachers, parents, students, town officials, and community members.

The plan to bring Grade 8 into the high school would be done in conjunction with a building project that created physical separation between a Grade 8-9 part of a building and a Grade 10-12 part of a building.  One of the big motivators was to create better transitions for adolescent students as they move from middle school to high school.

What are the educational reasons to add Grade 8 to Grade 9-12?
The transition from middle school to high school can be a difficult one for many students.  By creating an environment where Grade 8 and Grade 9 students are clustered together within a high school building, separated from the older students, it has the potential to create a smaller and more conducive learning environment for students during these critical years. 

At the same time, moving Grade 8 into the high school would provide opportunities for students who excel to take advantage of greater learning opportunities that they would not have access to in a middle school setting, e.g., advanced math, fine arts, etc.

Beyond these two reasons, adding Grade 8 to the high school would also increase the number of students that are able to access a modern educational facility in a given year.

What are the financial/facility reasons to add Grade 8 to Grade 9-12, and what impact would it have on the other schools in the district?
In the 2012 master planning study, the district looked at all of the school buildings in order to identify a long-range plan that made sense for the district as a whole.  The study identified that the majority of our elementary schools were undersized for their current populations and were relying on temporary modular buildings that have outlived their normal lifespan.  By building a Grade 8-12 high school, this relieves pressure on the elementary schools by shifting the grades in the other buildings as follows:


Current
With 8-12 high school
High School
Grades 9-12
Grades 8-12 (8-9/10-12)
Middle Schools
Grades 6-8
Grades 5-7
Elementary Schools
Grades K-5
Grades K-4

Is it true that the Vining School would close if a Grade 8-12 school is built?
Yes.  By shifting the grade spans of the elementary schools to K-4, this would create enough room in the other five elementary school buildings to house the district’s population. 

Although the Vining is an excellent school, it has physical limitations as it is the district’s oldest elementary school, built in 1957.  It currently houses only 201 students (as of the end of the 2016-17 school year), and the master planning study identified over $13 million of capital improvement work needed in the building.  Closing the Vining would remove the financial liability associated with maintaining this older building as a school, and has the potential to identify cost savings in the operating budget through consolidation of district resources.

If the Vining were to close, this would necessitate the need to look at attendance boundary lines for all of our elementary schools.  One of our goals in redrawing these lines would be to try to create a direct correspondence between elementary schools and middle schools, so that students from the same elementary school would not be split up into two different middle schools as they transition.

How would you look to manage the age range of students in a Grade 8-12 building?
By creating physical separation between the Grade 8-9 part of the building and the Grade 10-12 part of the building, students would have little interaction during the school day.  The two areas of the building will share common areas (e.g., library, cafeteria, gymnasium), but will have their own administrative support systems.

Would Grade 8 students be able to participate in athletics, performance groups, or other high school extracurricular activities?
Yes.  In fact, in selected sports with smaller numbers, some Grade 8 students already participate through athletic waivers; this would open up the opportunity to all Grade 8 students.  Similarly, other activities would be accessible for all students.

When will the changes occur?
The new grade configuration and associated redistricting will take effect when the new high school opens in September 2019 at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.

Where can I find out more information?
Information about the Building Committee can be found at http://tinyurl.com/bmhsbuild, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/bmhsbuild, or on Twitter at @NEWBMHS. 


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Athletic Director - Finalists

We are pleased to announce that we have three finalist candidates for the position of Athletic Director for the Billerica Public Schools. Public interviews of each finalist will be conducted tomorrow evening, Thursday, July 27, in the Auditorium at Billerica Town Hall.

The three finalists are:

6:00pm: Mr. Sean Glavin
Mr. Glavin is the Director of Finance and Operations for Valley Collaborative


7:00pm: Mr. Michael McCaffrey
Mr. McCaffrey is the Athletic Director at Groton-Dunstable Regional School District


8:00pm: Mr. John Magliozzi
Mr. Magliozzi is a business teacher, DECA advisor, and Faculty Manager for Billerica Memorial High School


We invite members of the public to come to the interviews tomorrow evening.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Finalist Candidates - Assistant Director of Special Education

We are pleased to announce that we have two finalist candidates for the position of Assistant Director of Special Education. Public interviews of each finalist will be conducted this coming Wednesday, July 26, in Room 210 at Billerica Town Hall. 


The two finalists are:


4:30 pm: Jeffrey Lappin

Mr. Lappin is the former Supervisor of Therapeutic and Clinical Services for the Medford Public Schools.


5:30pm: Philippa Young

Ms. Young is the Director of Student Services for the Hull Public Schools.


Members of the public are invited to attend and provide feedback upon the conclusion of the interviews.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Director of Athletics Screening Committee


The Billerica Public Schools is currently seeking highly qualified candidates to apply for the position of Director of Athletics, which has become available for the 2017-18 school year. We are assembling a Screening Committee to assist in the search process. The Screening Committee will be led by Tom Murphy, Principal of BMHS, and will review applications, interview candidates, and recommend several candidates to the Superintendent as finalists for the position.

The Billerica Public Schools invites one (1) assistant principal, four (4) coaches, (3) parents/community members, and one (1) student to join Mr. Murphy on the Director of Athletics 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 Monday, July 17, 2017 at 1:00 in the Collins Room, located in the Billerica Town Hall. During this meeting, the screening committee 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 Thursday, July 20 at 1:00 P.M., with screening committee interviews scheduled on July 25 and July 26.

Selecting a new Director of Athletics is an important activity for the community, and it requires a commitment of time and energy. If you are interested in serving on the Director of Athletics Screening Committee, please forward a letter of interest to Tom Murphy, BMHS Principal, at tmurphy@billericak12.com, no later than Thursday, July 13, 2017.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Weekly Construction Update - June 27, 2017

Yesterday marked another big milestone in the BMHS project as the first steel was erected on site!  It was amazing to see how much work was done in just one day - and it will be even more amazing for students and teachers to see what will be done when they come back from summer vacation!

The first beam being lowered into place at 9:00am

A view of the site at 2:45pm the same day

Here is this week's update on site activity:
  • New gas and electrical service coordination is ongoing with National Grid and is nearing completion.
  • Alumni Field's water service has been restored and the field is accessible.
  • All temporary stormwater facilities are in place and functioning and have performed as expected through recent rainfall.
  • Waterproofing and insulation of the foundation, then backfilling, compacting, and grading is underway in the academic wing of the building (sectors C, D, and E).
  • Foundation in sectors A and B are ongoing and are nearing completion.  Similar to the Academic wing, as these areas become complete, waterproofing, insulation, and backfilling will be underway.
  • Setting in structural steel base and leveling plates is underway throughout the Academic wing.
  • Setting of steel columns and structure began on June 26 and will continue through winter.  Approximately six truck deliveries per day will feed onsite steel progress 5-6 days per week through summer.
  • Completion of foundations in July will turn attention to pouring of the first concrete slabs both on grade and on completed elevated decks, starting in area A.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Hajjar Assistant Principal Finalists/Interviews

I am pleased to announce that there are two finalist candidates to be the next Assistant Principal at the Hajjar School, and that I will be conducting their public interviews on this coming Monday evening, June 26, in the Town Hall auditorium.  The finalists, with their times of their interviews are:

6:00  Ms. Kristen Pratt

Ms. Pratt is currently the Assistant Principal at the Center Woods Elementary School in Weare, NH.

7:15  Ms. Brittney Taylor

Ms. Taylor is currently the Principal of the K-8 Essex Academy at CREST Collaborative.

For those that would like to come to the public interviews, I encourage you to do so and would welcome your feedback afterwards.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Yesterday marked the end of the 2016-17 school year, and I want to thank everyone involved in making it another great year for the Billerica Public Schools!  Thank you to our parents, to our staff, and particularly to our students - you make Billerica a great place to learn!

Yesterday also marked the final school day for eighteen of our friends and colleagues who have given 373 collective years to the Billerica Schools.  Our school system is better for all of them having been here, and we wish them all a long, happy, and healthy retirement:

Lisa Bejian, Grade 3 Teacher, Ditson
Denise Blanchet, Exec. Administrative Assistant, Central Services
Diane Cappella, House Secretary, BMHS
Debra Dagle, Reading Teacher, Ditson
Mary Durante, Paraprofessional, Parker
Karen Falzone, Paraprofessional, Parker
Christine Fanning, Special Education Teacher, Ditson
Cynthia Gladd-Walsh, Occupational Therapist, District
Rebecca Graham, Social Studies Teacher, Marshall
Ghalia Khelfaoui, Speech/Language Pathologist, Ditson
Judith Mason, Art Teacher, Ditson
Joan Mitza, Library/Athletics Secretary, BMHS
Linda Moody, Paraprofessional, Hajjar
Charlene Mullen, Grade 1 Teacher, Ditson
Donna O'Neil, Paraprofessional, Marshall
Annette Pelligrini, Special Education Secretary, Special Education
Deborah Robbins, Cafeteria Worker, Kennedy
Patricia Schneider, Paraprofessional, Parker

Thank you again to everyone for a great school year, and I hope that everyone has a restful and relaxing summer!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Weekly Construction Update - June 20, 2017

As we reach the end of the 2016-17 school year, it's amazing to see how much work has happened at the high school site over the past few months.  Check out below to see our most recent time lapse video, and subscribe to the New BMHS channel on YouTube to see all of our latest videos!




Here's this week's update:

  • A new water service main is installed off of River Street, and new gas and electrical services are nearing completion.
  • Access to Alumni Field has been limited since June 6 for completion of water service tie-in and temporary stormwater system.  Access will be restored on approximately June 21.
  • All temporary stormwater facilities are in place and functioning.
  • Concrete foundations are complete in the academic wing of the building (sectors C, D, and E).  Waterproofing, insulation, and backfilling is underway throughout this area.
  • The high foundation wall along the south facade of the Civic wing (sectors A and B) is complete, and foundations along the remainder of this area are nearing completion.  Similar to the Academic wing, as these areas become complete, waterproofing, insulation, and backfilling will be underway.
  • Setting in structural steel base plates is underway throughout areas with complete foundations and footings.
  • Earthwork remains underway to support foundation and first floor slab on grade installations and to process excess topsoil and rock for export and re-use on site.  Exporting of all soils not able to be re-used is underway and the stockpile is expected to be completely removed by the end of June.
  • Both structural steel and laminated wood structures are in the fabrication process in Canada.  The first steel deliveries are on trucks and on route to the site.
  • Structural steel erection will begin on June 26, and continue with multiple steel deliveries six days per week through summer.

New YouTube Video: BMHS Site Spring 2017

Monday, June 5, 2017

Weekly Construction Update - June 5, 2017

As we enter June, work continues to proceed rapidly onsite, and we are excited to know that the first delivery of steel is scheduled to begin at the end of this month!  

As for this week's update:
  • Temporary water service is installed into the site off of River Street.
  • Temporary gas service is nearing completion by National Grid and Shawmut, including abandoning the existing gas service that runs under sectors C and D of the new building.  This work, and associated water service work, will result in Alumni Field being closed from June 6 through June 21.
  • Temporary electrical services are anticipated to be brought into the site in June by National Grid, after which electrical ductbank routing for the new building will commence.
  • All temporary stormwater facilities are in place and functioning.
  • Concrete foundations are underway throughout the building, and sectors A and B are nearing completion.
  • Waterproofing and back-filling of soils against new foundation walls is underway as foundation become complete.
  • Earthwork remains underway to support foundation and first floor slab on grade installations and to process excess topsoil and rock for export and re-use on site.
  • Both structural steel and laminated wood structures are in the fabrication process in Canada.  Steel is expected onsite during the last week of June.
  • In the first few weeks of July, a second crane is anticipated to join the steel erection sequencing to keep pace with daily steel deliveries through fall 2017.



 Picture taken from Mr. Murphy's Office

Picture taken from stairwell above Special Education office 

Picture taken from Room 1307 (Memorial Building)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Weekly Construction Update - May 23, 2017

Work continues to proceed at a rapid pace on the high school project, and we continue to meet the key goals of being on schedule and on budget.  At last Thursday's Building Committee meeting, it was reiterated that the project was 28% bought out at this point, and that we continue to track well for the future.

Taken from Mr. Murphy's Office

Here is the weekly itemized list:

  • Final re-use of soils and exporting of the remaining stockpile is underway and will continue through early June.
  • Street cleaning and catch basin maintenance along River Street will be ongoing throughout spring and summer construction activities.
  • Site retaining walls are being installed along the west and north/west corners of the site to provide construction access around the building footprint.  This work will impede access to Alumni Field for a short duration in early June.  This will be coordinated with School Department activities.
  • National Grid is engaged and working with the project team to provide temporary and permanent gas and electricity to the site and new building.
  • The tie-in to water service in River Street is complete and service is run into the new site.
  • Excavations for new foundations and footings are ongoing and on schedule.
  • Concrete footings and foundations and underway and on schedule in areas throughout sectors C, D, E, and the south high wall is sectors A and B.
  • Waterproofing and damproofing of foundations, and subsequent back-filling, is underway and will follow foundation installations around the site.
  • Steel remains due onsite June 26, beginning in area C, at the end of June.  It is anticipated that a second crane will be added to the site just after July 4 to help speed steel erection.
  • Steel and elevated concrete floor decks will be completed through the summer and into fall 2017.


Taken from the Special Education Office

Monday, May 22, 2017

Dr. Jill Geiser Appointed as Assistant Superintendent

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2017

This evening, the Billerica School Committee voted unanimously to support the recommendation for Dr. Jill Geiser to be the next Assistant Superintendent of the Billerica Public Schools.  Dr. Geiser will be taking over for Dr. Dede Galdston, who is leaving to become the superintendent of Watertown Public Schools on July 1.

“I am thrilled to have Dr. Geiser join us in Billerica,” said Superintendent of Schools Tim Piwowar.  “Throughout the interview process, it became clear that she has the right combination of skills, experience, and approach to the work that will make her a great fit for the students of Billerica and for our leadership team.”

For the past five years, Dr. Geiser has been the principal of the PreK-8 Healey School in Somerville; prior to that she served as a middle school principal and high school assistant principal in Lawrence.  Dr. Geiser holds a Doctor of Education degree from Boston College, and graduate degrees from the Teachers College at Columbia University and UMASS Boston.

Upon her appointment, Dr. Geiser said, “I am very excited about coming to serve Billerica as Assistant Superintendent.  Over the past few weeks as I have gotten to know the community, I have seen such a high level of commitment to educating its students and I am looking forward to being a part of that.”

Dr. Geiser’s start date will be July 1, 2017.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Weekly Construction Update - May 16, 2017


The Billerica Memorial High School Building Committee will be meeting this coming Thursday, May 18, at 6:30 pm in the Town Hall Auditorium, and we are happy to share that we will be on a regular schedule for future meetings on the third Thursday of each month.  At the meeting on Thursday, more detail will be shared about where we are with the project; however, in the meantime, here is the latest construction update:




  • All excavations for footings and foundations become more complete in the coming weeks, offsite trucking of the stockpile will increase, and ultimately the large stockpile should be completely removed in the coming month.
  • Street cleaning and catch basin maintenance along River Street will be ongoing throughout spring and summer construction activities.
  • Site retaining walls are in the process of being set at the northwest corner of the site.
  • Excavations for new foundations and footings is ongoing and on schedule.
  • Footings are poured in areas B, C.  The south foundation wall of areas A and B is underway and footings in these areas will follow in the coming weeks.
  • Concrete deliveries have been averaging approximately 150 cubic yards per day, and this pace will continue in the coming weeks and months.
  • Waterproofing of poured foundation walls will begin in the late weeks of May.
  • Steel is expected onsite, beginning in area C, at the end of June.
  • Steel and elevated concrete floor decks will be completed through the summer and into fall 2017.



Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Weekly Construction Update - May 9, 2017

Work continues to move along well for the new Billerica Memorial High School, and one of the most exciting things is that we have had an opportunity to have our project team work with some of our students from our senior Engineering Design class.  Students from the class got a chance to visit the site on Monday afternoon:


Beyond that, the scope of this week's work is similar to the past few updates:

  • Stripping, stockpiling, and trucking of loam is nearing completion.
  • Street cleaning and catch basin maintenance along River Street will be ongoing throughout spring and summer construction activities.
  • Site retaining walls remain underway and will continue in the coming weeks.
  • Excavations for new foundations and footings is ongoing and on schedule.
  • Concrete formwork and pours along the south wall of the new building, and into the southern two academic pods, are underway.
  • Concrete deliveries will continue to ramp up over the coming weeks and continue through summer.
  • Steel is expected onsite, beginning in area C, at the end of June.
  • Steel and elevated concrete floor decks will be completed through the summer and into fall 2017.
Finally, one more picture taken of the site - this one taken from Mr. Murphy's office this morning:


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Assistant Superintendent Finalist Interviews

Members of the Billerica community:

     I am are excited to announce that the initial round of interviews for assistant superintendent are complete, and that four finalist candidates will be coming to Billerica next week for site visits into the district.  Each of the candidates will spend time in the district, and we invite parents and other community members to participate in the process in order to provide their input.  The candidates, with the day of each visit, are as follows:

Monday, May 8: Dr. Jill Geiser, Principal, Healey School (PK-8), Somerville

Tuesday, May 9: Dr. Grace Wai, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Framingham

Thursday, May 11: Mr. Thomas Martellone, Principal, Fiske Elementary School, Lexington

Friday, May 12: Ms. Cathy McCulley, K-8 STEM Coordinator, Billerica

     The public interviews for each candidate will be held at 4:30 each afternoon in the Town Hall auditorium.  In addition, parents and/or community members are invited to meet with candidates at 1:00 each afternoon; those meetings will be in Room 210 at Town Hall, with the exception of Friday's visit which will be conducted in the Selectmen's Room at Town Hall.

     I look forward to having each candidate visit Billerica, and I welcome all feedback that people will provide after meeting the candidates.  I would also like to thank the Assistant Superintendent Screening Committee for their hard work in identifying our finalist candidates.

Thank you,

Tim Piwowar, Superintendent

Monday, May 1, 2017

Weekly Construction Update - May 1, 2017

As we hit the beginning of May and foundation work is moving along, we are excited to share new aerial pictures of the site, thanks to our IT department!


Aerial pictures taken via drone on Friday, April 28, 2017

It's great to see how much the site changes in a week!

Upcoming construction activities include:
  • Stripping, stockpiling, and trucking of loam is nearing completion.
  • Leveling and re-paving of the patch at the River Street water connection will occur in the coming week.
  • Street cleaning and catch basin maintenance along River Street will be ongoing throughout spring and summer construction activities.
  • Temporary and permanent drainage measures, including Alumni Field basin, are complete and the existing building is tied into new temporary drainage.
  • Site retaining walls are underway and will continue in the coming weeks.
  • Excavations for new foundations and footings is ongoing and on schedule.
  • Concrete formwork and pours along the south wall of the new building are underway.
  • Concrete deliveries will continue to ramp up over the coming weeks and continue through the summer.
  • Steel is expected onsite, beginning in area C, at the end of June.
  • Steel and elevated concrete floor decks will be completed through the summer and into fall 2017.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Seeking Parent Involvement: Redistricting Team

At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, the Billerica Public Schools will undergo a major transition as we open the new high school, change the district's grade configuration for schools, and close the Vining School.  Planning work to support this transition is already underway, and we are seeking parents to join us in this work.

With the Vining School closing, the district's attendance boundary lines for elementary school will need to be modified, and we will also be looking at the attendance lines for the two middle schools.  In particular, the key questions that need to be answered are:
  • How do we draw attendance lines at the elementary level with the Vining closing?
  • How do we draw attendance lines to ensure that there is no middle school split from sending elementary schools? (i.e., how do we wend the split from the Kennedy/Parker Schools?)
  • How do we best engage the community in this discussion?
To support this effort, we are creating a formal Redistricting Team.  This team will ultimately be charged with making a redistricting plan recommendation to the School Committee, and will have the following composition:
  • Superintendent
  • Assistant Superintendent
  • Director of Finance and Operations
  • Assistant Business Administrator
  • 3 Elementary School Principals
  • 1 Middle School Principal
  • 1 School Committee Member
  • 6 Parents (one from each current elementary zone, evenly split among middle school zones)
This team will begin meeting this spring prior to the end of school, with the goal of having a plan to submit to the School Committee by the start of the 2018-2019 school year.  As part of this process, we anticipate having multiple public forums where parents from across the community will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the Redistricting Team's efforts.

If you are interested in being one of the parent representatives to the Redistricting Team, please send me an email at tpiwowar@billericak12.com with your name, address, and reason why you are interested, by Tuesday, May 9.  

If you have any questions or comments about this process, also please send those to me at tpiwowar@billericak12.com.

Thank you,
Tim Piwowar, Superintendent

Seeking Community Member for Vining Re-Use Advisory Commmittee

Last March, the Billerica School Committee established a Vining Re-Use Advisory Committee to explore potential educational options for the Vining School after its closure in 2019, and to make a recommendation to the full School Committee if there is a future educational use for the building, or if it should be turned over to the Board of Selectmen.

There is currently an opening for one (1) community member on the Vining Re-Use Advisory Committee.  Anyone interested in that opening should submit their name and their reason for interest by Tuesday, May 9 to:

Ms. Denise Blanchet
Recording Secretary, Billerica School Committee
dblanchet@billericak12.com

Thank you,
Tim Piwowar, Superintendent

Monday, April 24, 2017

Weekly Construction Update - April 24, 2017

The project hit another exciting milestone last week as the first concrete was poured on site!  The picture below was taken early Friday afternoon; approximately 100 cubic yards of concrete were placed that day!


Upcoming construction activities include:

  • Stripping, stockpiling, and trucking of loam is nearing completion.
  • The River Street connection to water services is complete and paving occurred on Saturday, April 22.  
  • Street cleaning and catch basin maintenance along River Street will be ongoing throughout spring and summer construction activities.
  • Temporary and permanent drainage measures, including Alumni Field basin, are nearing completion.
  • Soil nailing to prevent undermining of existing foundations is complete.
  • Site retaining walls are underway and will continue in the coming weeks.
  • Excavations for new foundations and footings is ongoing and on schedule.
  • The first concrete pour, along the south foundation wall, was placed on April 21!  Concrete deliveries will continue to ramp up over the coming weeks and throughout the summer.
  • Steel is expected onsite, beginning in area C, at the end of June.
  • Steel and elevated concrete floor decks will be completed through the summer and into fall 2017.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Latest Edition of Inside BPS: Billerica Bionics Robotics

This month's edition of Inside BPS features students from the BMHS FIRST Robotics Team, the Billerica Bionics, Team 4909:


This year's season is over, but if you missed them compete, you get a chance to see what the robot can do in the second half of the program - and make sure you catch them next year!


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Weekly Construction Update - April 19, 2017

With the school vacation week upon us, the update was delayed this week - but there's certainly no delay occurring onsite as the big activity this week is the beginning of excavations for the new foundations!

This week's activities include:

  • Stripping, stockpiling and trucking of loam is ongoing
  • River Street connection to water services is underway
  • Excavations for new foundations and footing is ongoing, and concrete is scheduled to begin in the coming week
  • Temporary and permanent draining measures including structures, piping, and stormwater basins are ongoing
  • Stormwater basin #3, towards Alumni Field, is underway and will be complete in the coming weeks
  • Soil nailing to prevent undermining of parts of the existing foundations close to construction activity is underway
  • Large site retaining wall blocks are onsite and installation towards the north/west corner of the site will commence next week

This week's pictures are taken from a different angle; these are taken from the IT department which is located on the second floor at the far western end of the Memorial Building (Room 1201).




Monday, April 10, 2017

Weekly Construction Update - April 10,2017


Picture from Mr. Murphy's office - April 10, 2017

Site work is continuing, and will be helped by this week's great weather forecast.  The activities of last week are still continuing this week and include:
  • Stripping, stockpiling, and trucking of loam is ongoing
  • Excavations for new foundations are underway
  • Reinforcement of existing foundations close to construction activity will be completed in the coming weeks
  • Temporary and permanent drainage measures including structures, piping, and stormwater basins are ongoing
  • Utility work will ramp up in the coming weeks
  • Installation of limited block site retaining walls is scheduled to commence in mid-April
  • Continued preparations for the commencement of concrete footings and foundations in the third week of April
The BMHS Building Committee also has a meeting tomorrow night, Tuesday, April 11, at 6:00pm in the Parker School cafetorium.  The agenda can be found at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzKiya6lq2ehdFVjYm5vY2pGV2M

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Assistant Superintendent Screening Committee

The Billerica Public Schools is currently seeking highly qualified candidates to apply for the position of Assistant Superintendent, which has become available for the 2017-18 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 three (3) principals, three (3) administrators, three (3) educators, two (2) parents, one (1) community member, and (1) student to serve on the Assistant Superintendent 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 April 25, 2017 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 April 27, with screening committee interviews scheduled the week of May 1-5.

Selecting a new Assistant Superintendent 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 Assistant Superintendent Screening Committee, please forward a letter of interest to Tim Piwowar, Superintendent, at tpiwowar@billericak12.com, no later than Thursday, April 13, 2017.

Sincerely,

Timothy G. Piwowar
Superintendent of Schools

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Latest edition of Inside BPS

Earlier this year, I started a new BATV program called "Inside BPS", which airs monthly and is designed to showcase the great work of our students across the district, as well as the staff members who help support them.  The current show that is airing features three students - Shelby Broughton, Patrick Bouthillette, and Taylor Bennett - who are involved in this year's BMHS musical production of The Drowsy Chaperone, as well as teacher Andrew Mills, who is the show's choral director.  The show can be found online at https://sites.google.com/a/billericak12.com/bps/district/vpa.



For tickets to this year's show, they can be bought at the door or in advance online at https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=bfom.


Monday, April 3, 2017

Weekly Construction Update

Thank you to all that were involved in last week's groundbreaking ceremony - it was great to see the whole town come together to celebrate the success that we have had so far!

Starting this week, I will be providing a weekly update on construction activities that are occurring on site as provided by our construction team.  This week's activities include:
  • Stripping, stockpiling, and trucking of loam is ongoing
  • Excavations for new foundations are underway
  • Reinforcement of existing foundations close to construction activity will be completed in the coming weeks
  • Temporary and permanent drainage measures including structures, piping, and stormwater basins are ongoing
  • Utility work will ramp up in the coming weeks
  • Installation of limited block site retaining walls is scheduled to commence in mid-April
  • Continued preparations for the commencement of concrete footings and foundations in the third week of April
The picture below, taken from Mr. Murphy's office this afternoon, shows the earthwork that is continuing on site - it's hard to believe how much the landscape has already changed in such a short period of time!


Thursday, March 16, 2017

First Time Lapse Video from BMHS Construction


Over the past couple of weeks, our IT department has been experimenting with different technologies to create time lapse videos of the high school site during construction, and I'm happy to share the results of one of their most recent trials.  The video below was taken from the far western end of the Memorial Building in the IT department (in the area of Room 1201), and shows the time period from March 6-15, including the recent winter storm.

Click here to see the video!

Our plan is to put up another camera looking at the site from the other angle near the gymnasium; however, for now a still photo taken on Monday afternoon before the snow fell will have to suffice:


We look forward to sharing more!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Congratulations to Dr. Dede Galdston!

On Monday evening, Assistant Superintendent Dede Galdston was chosen to be the next superintendent of Watertown Public Schools.  I am incredibly happy for her, and am truly blessed to have spent the last 20 years working beside her here in Billerica.  Watertown is gaining an amazing educational leader, and an even better person - and we wish Dede all the best as she gets ready to move into her new role on July 1!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

BMHS Construction Update - March 2, 2017


This morning, I had the opportunity to walk inside the fence on the construction site to view some of the work that is under way - and it's great to see it occurring!

Work for this week includes:

  • Shawmut site office build-out ongoing
  • Stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) activities to commence
  • Earthwork operations continue with grade strip and stock piling
  • Sanitary enabling operations to commence
  • Temporary and permanent draining operations to commence


View from Mr. Murphy's office

BMHS Principal Tom Murphy and Building Committee Chair Kevin Heffernan

Panoramic taken from the back of the site between the ice rink and Alumni Field

Monday, February 27, 2017

Locke Monsters Robotics Team Wins Again!

Congratulations to the Locke Monsters Robotics Team 8025B, who won the Tournament Championship and the Design Award in a field of 46 teams at the Southern New England Regionals on Saturday.  This qualifies them again for the World Championship, to be held in Kentucky in April:


Congratulations again to the team, as well as to all the students from the Locke who participated!


Monday, January 30, 2017

Thoughts on Recent Events

As superintendent, I am often hesitant about speaking publicly on matters of larger political discourse beyond Billerica.  Although I hold my own personal views, my professional responsibility is to ensure that I am advocating for all children and families of Billerica, regardless of their political ideologies.

That being said, the events of the past few days leave me no choice but to speak.

It is one of our core fundamental values as a district that we all have a collective responsibility for all of our students - and that all means all.  That is our unwavering belief, and we remain steadfastly committed to ensuring that the Billerica Public Schools are a place where all children are welcome and safe.

This morning, I read a letter from Superintendent Eric Conti to the students of the Burlington Public Schools.  Since I would be unable to write anything more eloquently than he did, I share his words below.  Please know that these words stand for our students in Billerica as well.


January 30, 2017
An Open Letter to Burlington Students:
It is hard not to hear many adult conversations and see news reports around you regarding the recent restrictions on immigration.  Many people are struggling with questions of belonging.  Some question if everyone belongs and whether we can be safe.  Please be assured that all of you belong in the Burlington Schools.  Our commitment to educating all of you has never been more unyielding and important.
In my opinion, adults simply need to look inside our classrooms and learn from you.  I see classrooms where everyone is accepted regardless of faith, culture, ability, economic standing, and other differences.  You all believe in the best of your classmates and their intentions.  What you may not realize is that these lessons have been at the heart of public schools for a long time.
A part of the answer to the question of who belongs in public school can be seen in the Supreme Court’s decision of Plyler v. Doe (1982).  In Plyler, the Supreme Court determined that children belong in our public schools no matter how the children came to live in a community.  In other words, a child’s immigration status is not relevant.  You are all learners first.  If you live in Burlington, you are welcome in school.  You belong in school.  You are safe in school.  You are loved in school.
Moreover, nearly 75 years prior to the Plyler decision, John Dewey, a great American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer, said:
“The intermingling in the school of youth of different races, differing religions, and unlike customs creates for all a new and broader environment. Common subject matter accustoms all to a unity of outlook upon a broader horizon than is visible to the members of any group while it is isolated. The assimilative force of the American public school is eloquent testimony to the efficacy of the common and balanced appeal.”
Please know that all of you belong, and together in Burlington, we are creating a broader horizon for everyone.
Thank you, Eric Conti  


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Information on Next-Generation MCAS Test

This spring, students across Massachusetts in Grades 3-8 will take the next-generation MCAS test for the first time.  Students in Billerica will participate in the test in a computer-based environment, and the format is different from years past.  To help explain these changes, Assistant Superintendent Dede Galdston made the following presentation at Monday night's School Committee meeting:





Aside from the computer-based environment, the other major changes are as follows:
  • New question types (e.g., 2-point multiple choice, multiple select, technology enhanced, etc.)
  • Writing at all grades within the ELA test
  • Math tool kits, including calculators, imbedded within computer-based environment
  • Technology enhanced math questions (equation editors, point plotting, histogram items, etc.)
  • Universal accessibility features for all students
Please be aware that the Grade 10 MCAS is remaining unchanged at this time, and is not scheduled to move to the next-generation assessment as a graduation requirement until the Class of 2021 (current Grade 8 students).

As a final note about MCAS, please know that although MCAS performance is important, it is only one of many measurements that we use to let us know how well our students are learning, and what we can do to help drive improvement.  Our goal, in every classroom across the district, is to teach to the standards - the expectations of what students should know and be able to do.  Our goal is never to teach to a test.  It is our strong belief that if we focus on helping students meet (and exceed) standards, they will perform well no matter what assessment we place in front of them.  

That being said, students will have opportunities as we approach this spring to practice with the new MCAS, but only to ensure that what MCAS is measuring is students' real abilities and is not influenced by their unfamiliarity with a new testing format.  As more resources become available in the coming months, we will share them with the community.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Two-Hour Delay, Tuesday, January 24

Due to this morning's inclement weather conditions, the Billerica Public Schools will have a two-hour delay today, Tuesday, January 24.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Calendar Changes for 2016-17 School Year

     Recently, there were two changes to the school calendar for the remainder of this year that were approved by the Billerica School Committee.  The changes are as follows:

1. The early release scheduled for all schools that was originally scheduled for Tuesday, April 25 has now been changed to Thursday, April 13.  This new date occurs on the Thursday before April vacation, and as a reminder, there is no school on Friday, April 14 for all students.  This change was made to accommodate the testing schedule released by the state for MCAS.


2.  On Monday, December 12, there was an early release scheduled for elementary school students only that had to be postponed due to a two-hour weather delay.  By policy, this date must be made up before the end of the year.  As a result, the new date for an early release for elementary schools only is on the 179th day of the school year, currently scheduled for Thursday, June 15.  Please be aware in the event we need to cancel school and the year is extended, this early release will be moved accordingly.


     I thank you for your cooperation and understanding regarding these calendar changes, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

BMHS Students Make a Difference at Standing Rock

This article just posted at the Billerica Minuteman website tells the story of Liam Henderson, Class of 2017, and his efforts to raise funds and awareness for the Slippery Rock Reservation in North Dakota,  To quote from the article:

In two short weeks, Henderson collected 800 pounds of firewood, 20 hand-warmers, jackets, blankets, and cans of soup for the people of Standing Rock.

Then came the long haul, approximately 1,700 miles separate Billerica and Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

When we talk about the important of community and how students can be involved in the greater world around them, this is the pinnacle of what we talk about.  Thank you to Liam and this family, and everyone who donated in order to make this happen.