On July 22, 2015, TLPI hosted the Safe and Supportive Schools Commission for a summer retreat. 21 Commission members and participating guests from across Massachusetts met for a day-long working retreat at Harvard Law School.
The day began by celebrating the inclusion of the Safe and Supportive Schools line item in the FY16 budget and the positive impact this $500,000 in funding will have for students and educators across the Commonwealth.
Then attendees began work on one of the most important charges given to the Commission by the law: developing and proposing a process for updating, improving and refining the Safe and Supportive Schools Framework and Self-Assessment Tool. The law instructs the Commission to begin with the Massachusetts Behavioral Health and Public Schools Framework and Self-Assessment Tool and expand these to include all of the activities and initiatives necessary for creating safe and supportive school environments. In small groups, using a scenario developed by Commission member Superintendent John Doherty of Reading Public Schools, attendees completed the self-assessment as though they were representatives of a fictitious school grappling with many of the common challenges schools face today. This activity gave attendees tremendous insights into how both the content and the usability of the Framework and Self-Assessment Tool can be expanded and improved.
DESE shared at the retreat that it intends to have RFPs available soon for schools in Massachusetts to apply for the FY16 Safe and Supportive Schools grants. These grants, first made available to schools in FY14, allow schools to apply for funds to pilot and implement safe and supportive schools action plans based on all the elements of the Safe and Supportive Schools Framework and Self-Assessment Tool. Grantee schools will also participate in conferences to share their learning and best practices. Updates about the grant program and the RFPs will be posted on TLPI’s website and on DESE’s new Safe and Supportive Schools webpage as they become available.
The retreat ended with plans for drafting the Commission’s annual report that will be submitted to Governor Baker and the legislature on December 31, 2015.
The next Commission meeting will be held on Friday, October 2, 2015 at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant St., Malden from 1:00-4:00 pm. For more information, visit the Safe and Supportive Schools page hosted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. All Commission meetings are open to the public, and anyone interested in creating safe and supportive schools is welcome to attend.