Something very special happened in our schools this week. With little notice, the state decided the emergency shelter at the Best Western would accommodate families needing longer term housing rather than waiting until April as originally planned. The families moved in on Monday. Our responsibility to them per law was to either enroll children in our schools or provide transportation to their home schools in other Massachusetts communities.
We soon learned this would be a labor of love. Every family, despite the circumstances, brought a smile and deep care and concern for their child's wellbeing. We thrived off of their resilience and strength. The children were full of smiles and energy, like all children while sometimes being the only family member to speak English.
The state contractor, Making Opportunities Count, is providing a daunting operation of ensuring families have three meals a day, all of the provisions they need, and are settling in comfortably. Families are relieved to have that stress diminish some for the time being. The amazing staff in the schools immediately made welcoming plans for students to transition to our school or return to the schools they know.
Some students were able to start in the schools yesterday at Willard, CMS and CCHS. As time goes, we will continually evaluate the best elementary school assignment as appropriate. The children thrived in well-supported and very welcoming environments. About two-thirds of the approximately 30 children will be transported to their home schools beginning today and into next week.
Concord's outpouring of support is known to us and to the town leadership. This week, we worked with the town's social worker and the Concord Carlisle Community Chest for incidentals that came up. The state has the hotel very well supplied right now so other needs are not imminent. Community Chest is prepared to be the lead agency in community collections and donations when the time is right and the needs are known. Thank you for your generosity in spirit.
In terms of the financial impact on the district, we are very hopeful for the passage of the Governor's proposal to provide per pupil support and 100% reimbursement for transportation. Regardless, we are committed to both maintaining all school programs and providing for the newly arrived children without compromising either.
I know I speak for all of those involved this week in feeling so fortunate and privileged for the opportunity to support these children in need.
Dr. Laurie Hunter
Superintendent of Schools
Concord Public Schools and Concord-Carlisle Regional School District
120 Meriam Road
Concord, MA 01742