Return to Headlines

Updates on School Safety, Student Mental Health Initiatives

Borg Report November 8, 2018

As we enter the second quarter of the 2018-2019 school year, I want to share updates on two important topics: school safety, and student mental health. Please take time to read through these updates, and contact me directly with questions, concerns or comments.

School Safety: Westonka Schools is committed to maintaining safe, healthy, supportive and welcoming learning environments. I truly believe that Westonka is a safe place to learn, work, live and raise a family. In fact, Westonka ranks as the No. 2 safest school district in Minnesota, according to Niche.com (View the full rankings).

Last spring, we held a well-attended and productive community meeting on the topic of school safety. At that meeting, I shared some action steps that the district will be taking regarding safety and security:

  • In coordination with law enforcement, we are now in the process of conducting a facility review to identify any safety/security issues in our school buildings and coming up with improvement plans.
  • We will be adding staff to support our safe schools commitment. This school year we added a dean of students at the high school and a middle school counselor. We will also review additional security needs at our school sites.
  • We will continue our constant review of policies and procedures to ensure we are employing best practices.

Our administrative team regularly meets with local police and fire chiefs and other first responders to review and update our emergency protocols. We have one of these meetings scheduled for next week, when we will discuss potential safety improvements to our school buildings and operations.

If you have thoughts, concerns or questions about safety and security in our schools, I encourage you to reach out to me directly to continue this dialogue.

Student Mental Health & Wellbeing: We believe that our students’ mental health and wellbeing is a crucial aspect of school safety. We are proud that our staff has engaged with this topic through a variety of professional development exercises. For example, on Monday the high school staff explored the topics of trauma and secondary trauma.

The Westonka School Board is also looking at the possibility of pushing back secondary start times as a way to improve students’ mental health. The American Academy of Pediatrics, among other organizations, recommends that districts delay start times of middle and high schools to combat teen sleep deprivation.

The board gave preliminary approval in September of a draft of school start times for the 2019-2020 school year. Please see a summary of the proposed changes below.


 

Current Start Time

Proposed Start Time for 2019-2020

Current End Time

Proposed End Time for 2019-2020

Shirley Hills & Hilltop Primary Schools

8:55 a.m.

9:05 a.m.

3:35 p.m.

3:45 p.m.

Grandview Middle School

7:40 a.m.

8:10 a.m.

2:35 p.m.

2:50 p.m.

Mound Westonka High School

7:41 a.m.

8:20 a.m.

2:45 p.m.

3:00 p.m.


The board conducted a community survey on this topic last spring (See results on our website) and is holding start times listening sessions this fall. The final listening session will take place at the beginning of the school board meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12. The board will vote on the proposed start times at the December 10, 2018 meeting.

If you cannot attend the listening session and have thoughts on the start times proposal to share with the board, please email welisten@westonka.k12.mn.us prior to Monday’s meeting.

The biggest reasons that we have schools that are both safe and welcoming are the relationships that we form in Westonka. We are grateful for the support of our staff, school families and community and appreciate your continued engagement on these important topics.

Sincerely,

Kevin Borg, Superintendent
borgk@westonka.k12.mn.us
(952) 491-8001