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Our PTO Dollars Put to Use

Burr School

Our PTO Dollars Put to Use

As the 2015-2016 school year comes to a close, the PTO board would first and foremost like to thank everyone for their time and monetary support to the PTO and the Burr School. Many of you may not know the process and work that goes into planning the school events and expenditures, so we thought it would be great to share. At the end of every year, the PTO Board meets to discuss the upcoming year. The Board looks at prior expenses and fundraisers to determine what we can continue with the next year.  We look at many factors including parent support and success of each program.

In 2015-2016 we held the following fundraisers:

  • Gift for Burr
  • Mike’s Pastry Pies
  • Online Auction
  • Movie Nights
  • Book Fair

With the money raised, we were able to provide the following to the school and our children:

  • Purchased interactive projectors for grade 3-5 classrooms
  • Purchased books and supplies for the library
  • Provided each teacher an Amazon gift card to assist them in setting up their rooms
  • Purchased supplies for the school garden
  • Funded Halloween Family Fun Night
  • Contributed to the ongoing playground fund
  • Funded the end of the year teacher and staff luncheon and back to school teacher and staff luncheon
  • Funded the 5th Grade Yearbooks, T-Shirts and Moving on Ceremony/Evening Party
  • Last, but certainly not least, because this is the majority of our spending, our PTO dollars 100% funded the Creative Arts and Sciences program. This city mandated program (that is not funded by the city) consists of 3 curriculum enhancing programs for each grade and this year we were also able to support a presentation by Ruby Bridges.

Of course, we also want to have fun and this year the PTO organized the following community building events:

  • Back to School Picnic
  • Celtics Night
  • Red Sox Night
  • Hip Stitch Night
  • Just Next Door
  • May Fair

Again, we thank you for your continued commitment and support to the Burr PTO and hope you have a fun and healthy summer.

The PTO Board

Newsletter 6-21-16 from Ms. Johal

Dear Burr Parents/Guardians,

Today all K-4 students had ‘Step Up Day’. This is a time for children to visit the next grade level. They met with the teachers, heard a little about the highlights of the upcoming school year, and got to ask some questions. Be sure to ask your child about his/her visit.

As I shared in my last newsletter, the teachers and I have been interviewing to fill the grade three teacher vacancy. I’m happy to inform you that we had an extremely strong pool of candidates and the hiring committee unanimously voted to hire Kara MacNeill. Kara comes to us after two very successful Newton long-term teaching assignments at the Pierce and Memorial Spaulding Schools. Kara graduated from Skidmore College with a Bachelor of Science in Education Studies and then completed a Master of Science, Teacher of Reading at Wheelock College. Kara made time to join us for Step Up Day and the rising third graders met with all four teachers who will be on the team next year.

Joanna Sorenson, our new grade five co-taught teacher also visited today and met the rising fourth graders. I think meeting the teachers alleviates some of the anxiety that some students have when faced with change. 

Class lists will not be finalized until late summer. They will be emailed to you on August 26th.  Be sure to let us know if you want your child’s class assignment mailed. If you want your child’s class assignment sent to a different email address, please edit that information by logging it the student information system or send me an email at the address below.

The supply lists for each grade level have been posted on the Burr School website. Hopefully, this early posting will relieve the late August dash to get supplies and allow you to purchase things at a more reasonable price.

The last day of school, on Thursday, will be a ½ day. Dismissal is at 12:00 PM. Please be sure to pick up your child(ren) punctually because it is also an early dismissal for Burr staff.

I wish you all a restful summer and hope you are all able to spend quality time with your loved ones.


Mindy Johal

Ecuador Fundraising Update

Ecuador Fundraising Update

From Karen:

Thank you to all of the students and teachers at Burr for their genrous help.

Penelope’s aunt, Rocio, and her good friend arrived at the Guayaquil International Airport in the middle of the night on May 27th with antibiotics, medicines, vitamins, toiletries, school supplies, and 120 bags of rice, lentils and sugar.  The items she brought to Ecuador and obtained within the country were purchased using contributions from the Burr school community, as well as Rocio’s friends and family.   Rocio also brought with her good wishes and beautiful cards that the Burr school children had prepared.   In total, she stayed five days in Ecuador. 

At the airport, she embarked on a road trip to Canoa Beach, an area which had suffered substantial devastation from the earthquake and which was featured in the ABCNEWS.GO.COM video titled Canoa Beach Hotel a Devastating Scene.  On her way to Canoa Beach, she stopped in Manta, where she bought 30 mosquito nets, tuna and non-perishable milk to add to the care packages, as well as parasite medicine and pedialyte.  She finally arrived in Canoa Beach seven hours after she began her trip from the Guayaquil airport and found that locals were living mostly in tents.  She also found many Ecuadorian doctors who had come from all over the country to provide assistance so she focused on delivering the goods she was bringing.   She was in Canoa Beach for three long, exhausting and heart wrenching days and stayed at the Canoa Beach hotel, which is owned by an American expat who is also providing help to the community.  Rocio went to a local mission that had exhausted its medical supplies and delivered antibiotics, anti-diarrheal medication, parasite medicine, Pedialyte, etc.   She distributed to the townspeople small plastic bags that each contained the food and toiletries.  Although school had not been able to open due to earthquake damage, she gave children school supplies including backpacks, notebooks, crayons, pencils and water bottles.  The kids also loved receiving notes and pictures and knowing that children at Burr cared about them and wanted to help them.   She gave the mosquito nets to the children and the pregnant mothers.  On the last day in Canoa Beach, Rocio and her friend tried to start a beach clean-up.  She is concerned that if the debris is not properly cleaned, it may lead to infection and disease.  After Canoa Beach, Rocia returned alone to Manta for two days.  There, she purchased another 30 mosquito nets which she distributed within that town.  She also left the rest of the medicines at a small rural health center in the outskirts of Manta. imagejpeg_0 IMG-20160603-WA0000 imagejpeg_1 IMG-20160603-WA0003

Rocio’s departure from Ecuador was bitter sweet.   Although the trip was challenging physically and emotionally, it was worthwhile because she was able to assess the needs of the area first-hand.  On her next trip to the region, she will focus on clean-up, disease prevention and rebuilding the community.

Summer Reminders from the School Nurse

Summer Reminders from the School Nurse

Medication Pick-up: Parents of students who have medication stored in the health room should pick it up by the last day of school, June 23. All medication (pills, epi-pens, inhalers, etc.) not picked up will be discarded. Please plan ahead to pick medication up so it is not wasted! Medication may not be carried home by the student — it must be picked up by a parent. School nurses will not be available after June 23 to return medication to families.

Medication Order Reminder: All medication orders expire at the end of the school year. If you are visiting your child’s health care provider during the summer, consider requesting a new medication order for your child. All medication, prescription or over-the-counter, requires an order. The Medication Permission Form and the Medication Policy are both available online at

West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease Prevention: Mosquito and tick-borne diseases like West Nile Virus and Lyme disease occur in Newton residents. Take steps to avoid getting sick!

  • Mosquito repellant not only works for mosquitoes, but helps repel ticks as well. Use a repellant with DEET, and follow label instructions for concentrations appropriate for children.
  • Avoid being outdoors during peak mosquito hours, particularly once West Nile Virus has been detected in the mosquito population.
  • Remove containers around your home (tires, kid pools, pots, tarps) that could allow mosquitoes to breed.
  • Check your body for ticks after being outdoors and remove them immediately to avoid disease transmission.

Shoo the flu! Seasonal influenza vaccine will be offered this fall during the school day to students and employees. Both the flu shot and the nasal spray flu vaccine will be available to all students in Kindergarten through grade 12, by parental consent only. Consent and screening forms will be posted at by mid-September, in preparation for the fall clinics. Insurance information will be requested, but all students are welcome to receive the vaccine at no charge.

The flu clinic date for Burr school will be Wednesday October 5th. Forms (available in Sept.) will be due to the school nurse by September 30th. This schedule is confirmed unless the flu vaccine supply is delayed, in which case the school nurse will notify families of an alternative date once the vaccine arrives.

Have a happy and healthy summer!

Burr Garden Summer Help

SunThe Garden Crew needs help this summer. Bring the kids over to the school a few times this summer to water and weed the garden!

All the flowers, vegetables and seeds are now planted.  The kids did a great job and are so very proud of their hard work.  Come visit and see all that they have planted:

K – Rainbow flower gardens
1 – Sun and Moon flower gardens
2 – Ghana, China and Mexico vegetable gardens
3 – 3 Sisters vegetable gardens
4 – Sunflower garden and pumpkin and watermelon patch
5 – Wheatgrass “BURR 2016” flower garden and buckets

Now comes the challenging part, helping these beautiful gardens thrive. Please consider signing up for one or more weeks to care for the plants and flowers and help them grow as best they can.  It’s easy.  All they need is some watering and weeding.  That’s it!  Then feel free to enjoy all that grows.

Follow-up from Last Night’s Meeting

Dear Burr Community,

Thank you to all who came to the meeting last night. I hope the health experts, city officials, and I were able to answer many of your questions. It was a productive initial discussion, but there is more work to be done and we look forward to your participation.

I wanted to summarize data compiled to date, immediate next steps, and plans for the future.

Data Summary

Attached you will find a chart that summarizes the testing history data for Burr. Much of this data has already been distributed, but the chart provides additional data from 2012 and 2016. It also includes information on remediation plans implemented and the subsequent facilities changes made. As noted last night, testing and remediation plans moving forward will be more consistent, clear, easy to access, and promptly communicated.

Immediate Next Steps

As discussed last night, the City is currently conducting the following tests at Burr:

  • Testing water from the main line coming into the building
  • Re-testing water from the pipes in the walls (due to advice from MWRA to flush pipes prior to test because removing fountains can dislodge particles)

For those who may be seeing this data for the first time, please note that in the 2016 fountain testing, two different tests were conducted. Water was tested from the fountains and water was tested from the pipes in the walls. Both sets of results showed elevated lead levels, but the results from the pipe testing were unusually high. These results have prompted re-testing to evaluate the results, but it is important to note that there was never a situation in which a child was drinking water directly from the pipe.

No level of lead is safe and therefore the testing will continue until the source is identified. Tests are again being expedited with the goal of sharing results by Friday. The City will notify us when results are available.

Future Plans

Work will continue over the summer at Burr and throughout the district to ensure the drinking water in our schools is safe.

The City will:

  • Remove all bubblers connected to sinks
  • Work with outside consultants to sample water in all schools

The School Department will:

  • Communicate results from testing promptly
  • Develop a remediation plan and communicate it to the larger community

As discussed last night, the City is responsible for the testing plans, as outlined by Mayor Warren’s letter on Monday. The School Department is responsible for the development of both remediation and communication plans. As I outlined last night, it is the School Department’s commitment that the remediation and communication plans will be developed with input and feedback from parent representatives from the Burr community. We will work with Mindy to determine the most effective way to include parents in the discussion as the process moves forward.

Thank you again to those individuals who participated in last night’s meeting. Your thoughtful questions allowed us to have a meaningful discussion on a range of important issues. We are committed to ensuring that the drinking water at Burr is safe for all and will be certain to keep you involved in our efforts as we proceed.


David A. Fleishman, Superintendent of Schools

Please select the link for a pdf version of this letter: Burr Follow-up.pdf 

Please select the link for the results chart: Results-Burr-Summary_6-14-16.xlsx 

Letter from the Mayor to Burr

Letter from Mayor Warren to Burr Families and the Community regarding the elevated lead levels at Burr and other Newton Schools.
Letter from Mayor Warren (2)

Burr Water – A Community Meeting 6/13/16 7:00pm

A community meeting will be held on  Monday, June 13th at 7:00 p.m. at Burr Elementary School. City, building, school, and health officials will be available to answer your questions regarding the water at Burr. We hope you will plan to attend. Babysitting will be provided. 

If you have any questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact the school or the City of Newton Health Department at 617-796-1420. Additional information can also be found on the City website at

An informal parents  group (non PTO related) called Parents of Burr has formed to discuss this situation as well. You can email them at Parents of Burr want to ensure that further testing is done with more stringent protocols in place and to find out the exact exposure period of lead in the water to our children. They wrote a letter to the city outlining their concerns, to which the Superintendent replied on June 3rd.

Please search “Lead 2016” in the sidebar of this website to find all posts related to the lead contamination in our school.

Volunteers Needed for the Burr Move -A-Thon

June 17th Move a Thon

Ideally, we would like one or two parents for each time slot to help out with water. Schedule is:
9:00am-Roberts, Field, Gaita, Tavares, Robinson, Glode/Tice
10:00am- Fitch, Espinal, Golden, Cooley, Miller, Harris, Moran/Ranagan
11:00am-Canning, Collins, Oh, McMahon, Russo, Frail Robinson

Please email Justine Fialkosky at if you can help out.

Don’t Forget to Order Your Bricks!

Are you a new family to Burr School? Did you miss the opportunity to purchase a brick before the new patio was installed at the rear of the playground? This is your chance to leave your mark on the Burr Playground.  

Buy a brick, engraved with your custom message and your custom brick will replace one of the blank bricks currently installed on the patio.  

Return the order form and check made payable to Burr PTO to Burr School or mail to:

Burr PTO
P.O. Box 66275
Auburndale, MA 02466

NEW THIS YEAR: BUY-A-BRICK in Honor of a Teacher

The PTO is offering a discount for individuals or classes interested in purchasing an engraved brick to honor a Burr teacher or staff member.  With your purchase, the staff member will receive a card alerting them that a brick was purchased in their honor.  Bricks can be purchased for $60 and can be engraved with one of the following messages:

Message 1

Teacher’s Name



Message 2

In honor of

Teacher’s Name



For questions or to order a Commemorative Teacher Brick contact 

Melissa Chatfield

All brick orders must be submitted by Friday, June 17th.

All proceeds will go directly to the Burr PTO