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The safety of our students and staff is always our first priority. Lately, some questions have been raised about carbon monoxide in schools. The vast majority of our classrooms, including portables, are heated with units using electricity and do not have a source for carbon monoxide, greatly reducing this risk for students and staff.

Our heating units are inspected by our maintenance department annually, and our staff routinely conducts random carbon monoxide monitoring. We have had no recent reports of elevated carbon monoxide in any of our buildings. The Metro Code does not require carbon monoxide detectors for schools and Metro school buildings do not have them. Our maintenance and construction offices meet regularly and do plan to discuss whether or not the installation of carbon monoxide detectors is warranted.


Updated January 8, 2013

As we begin the second half of our school year, the terrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, is still on our minds. It is difficult to comprehend what happened and we grieve the loss of the children, teachers and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

We are committed to the safety of our children and staff and we have been working to create positive, safe schools for years. We are well ahead of many area districts. Any changes we make to our procedures now will be based on thoughtful, measured decisions that produce real improvements to school security.

We know parents are troubled by this event and may want to know more about school safeguards and security measures in our district.

The safety of our students and staff is our first priority. We are reviewing every piece of our security practices and plans and expediting security upgrades that we had previously planned. We have been in ongoing communication with local law enforcement and emergency management officials to insure our emergency management procedures are current and aligned with best practices. With our large district, we need a process to address the improvements and we are underway.

Toward that end, all principals, assistant principals and central office staff who work in schools were asked to complete a FEMA crisis management training program over the holidays as a refresher for good safety procedures. We have reviewed our safety procedures with local law enforcement and are in communication with the state. Our maintenance and security staffs are reviewing access and safety measures in every school, with help from school staff. We want to make sure procedures are consistent and in place and that safety devices are up to date. We remind visitors they must sign in and out and wear visitor IDs in district facilities.

Thank you for continuing to observe and follow all of the safety procedures currently in place.

Our middle and high schools have School Resource Officers who are sworn Metro Police Officers employed by the Metro Police Department. We believe any armed staff in our schools should be fully-trained uniformed police officers.

We are in a better position to keep our schools safe when we limit detailed discussion of our security measures to those who need to know the details. Consequently, if you have concerns about the specifics in your school, please talk to your principal, who can address your concerns or share them with our security and facilities staff as appropriate.

So that we can all help our children emotionally process this disturbing news and continue to feel safe at school and home, the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has put together a number of suggestions and tips for families. The NASP website has even more, including tips translated into several languages.

From NASP:

It is important to keep in mind that an event like this is rare. Schools are one of the safest places for children and youth during the school day, and an important place for them to receive support and return to normalcy.

Communication and collaboration among schools, parents, and communities is critical to ensure that our students continue to view schools as safe, caring, and supportive environments. How adults react to this tragedy can shape the way children and youth react and their perceptions of safety.

Educators can reinforce students’ sense of safety by making classrooms predictable and welcoming, providing access to mental health supports as needed, and connecting families with other available resources after school hours.

Families are encouraged to spend time together, validate children’s feelings, ask for help as needed, and find calm and relaxing activities to do at home.

It is very important to limit children’s exposure to media coverage, particularly for young children. If children are watching the news or accessing information online, parents and caregivers should be available to talk to their children about it.

Families and educators will serve on the frontline of helping children understand and cope with this violence and loss of life. Most children and youth are resilient and will cope well with the support and caring of their families, teachers, friends, and other caring adults. However, young children may have particular difficulty understanding and describing their feelings and emotions.

Some tips to help children include:

  • Provide a developmentally appropriate, clear, and straightforward explanation of the event

  • Return to normalcy and routine to the best extent possible while maintaining flexibility

  • Let children know it’s okay to feel upset or angry

  • Be a good listener and observer

  • Provide various ways for children to express emotion, either through journaling, writing letters, talking, making a collage, or music

  • Focus on resiliency as well as the compassion of others

More Resources:


Mark North

Mark North, Sports Fan & President of

The Fans, Inc.

I Saw the Light

Friday was one of those days…the horrific tragedy in Connecticut …unspeakable terror…dominated the news, monopolized our thought, exponentially multiplied our fears, and left each of us searching for elusive answers. Social media constantly reiterated the questions – Where did we go so wrong? Why would someone inflict such horror? What in his background would make him act in such a way? How can such evil exist? Why?


With that backdrop, I planned to attend a high school basketball game as I do every Friday evening. This week, I was heading to Green Hills for the Hillsboro Burros’ showdown with the Hunters Lane Warriors. It would be my first chance to see Burros star Jamonte Davis, a 6-7 (or 6-8 depending on which recruiting service you subscribe to) forward whose complete game, including mastery of the lost art of the mid-range jump shot, has catapulted him to national recognition as a college prospect. I knew he would be tested by Hunters Lane’s scrappy, tenacious zone defense.

My daughter, home from college, accompanied me to the game, an unexpected and particularly heartwarming treat considering the events of the day. She warned that she might not pay too much attention to the game because she concentrates on and enjoys the spectacle that surrounds the actual game. True enough…and I responded that I try to notice things other people overlook and provide a different perspective through the North Sports Report. Sitting together, we watched the game in our own ways, occasionally sharing our unique commentary.

During a break in the action, late in the game, the Hillsboro cheerleaders tossed souvenirs into the crowd. You know the routine…cheerleaders throwing little basketballs and rubber bracelets all along the sideline, and every fan standing, hoping to catch a keepsake. Just like every fan at a baseball game wants to catch a foul ball, everyone in the gym wants to catch some cheerleader-thrown gift. Did I stand and wave, encouraging a toss toward me? Of course I did. Did any souvenirs land within my reach? Of course not. So, we sat back down as action resumed on the court.

Then it happened.

A Hillsboro student, sitting three people down from me, leaned over and tapped my arm. As I turned, she handed me a rubber Hillsboro souvenir bracelet the cheerleaders had thrown into the crowd. What? I had never met the young lady, and she didn’t know me from the man in the moon. What makes a high school student give a gift to a stranger? Why so nice to me? How can such grace and beauty exist? Who gets the credit…her parents? …a teacher? Where did we go so right?

I have no answers, but the cynical veil of despair was lifted. A bright light… I swear I saw a bright light…shone down on that child like a spotlight. Or, was it shining up, emanating from her kind heart? Looking around the gym, I saw light shining on everyone. I could actually see the beauty and grace in every spectator, shining through like a beacon of hope to the world. Was her light of kindness contagious, or were my eyes simply opened to the light of kindness that shines from all those around me?

I still have no answers, and that light doesn’t change the past or hide the horrors of tragedy. It does, however, expose the hope for healing and for the future.

As the New Year approaches, may we open our eyes to the beauty that surrounds us; and more importantly, shine our own light of grace, beauty and kindness in whatever small way we can.

Oh, and Go to a Game!

-- Mark North

MNPS: The First Choice for Hope for the Future


Tougher high school courses better prepare students for college so Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools is changing its high school GPA calculations to encourage and reward students who choose academic rigor.

Nueva escala de calificaciones 5.0 para las escuelas preparatorias (high schools) promueve el rigor académico

The district will convert to a 5-point Grade Point Average (GPA) in 2012-13. This change will phase in over a two-year period beginning with students in grades 9, 10 and 11 this school year, which begins Wednesday, August 1. In 2013-14, students in grade 12 will be included.

“The weighted GPA will encourage students to enroll in advanced, rigorous courses of study,” said Jesse Register, director of schools. “We want all our students to graduate prepared for college and career. This change is another step in cultivating a strong college-going culture in our district.”

Under the new policy, students will receive an additional 1 point weight for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. Students will receive a 0.5 weight for dual enrollment and honors courses. This will reward students who enroll in more rigorous college-prep courses.

Grade Scale: GPA Calculation: 
Letter Grade Numeric Value Un-weighted Regular Weighted Honors, Dual Enrollment Weighted Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate
A 93-100 4.0 4.5 5.0
B 85-92 3.0 3.5 4.0
C 75-84 2.0 2.5 3.0
D 70-74 1.0 1.5 2.0
F 0-69 0 0 0

“The new 5-point GPA aligns Metro Schools with surrounding districts and districts across the United States,” said Jay Steele, associate superintendent for high schools. “We discussed our plans with admissions officers at public and private universities. They told us they look for academic rigor and some said the weighted GPA would help students applying to their schools.”

A 5-point GPA will shape future valedictorian and salutatorian selections and honor student designations. Two GPAs will be recorded on student transcripts, a weighted 5-point GPA and an unweighted 4-point GPA. Many universities request both weighted and unweighted GPAs on student transcripts and want school districts to encourage students to take more advanced courses.

Research from the College Board, which administers the SAT, shows rigorous high school classes improve student performance on college entrance exams and college success.

Current 9th, 10th and 11th grade students will receive retroactive GPA calculations as the system is updated to reflect the new GPA. Current seniors will not be included in the new calculation.

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