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.