District to work with staff and community on next steps.
In 2017, Burlington School District (BSD) embarked on a community-led strategic plan planning process. Part of that work revealed the need to conduct a District-wide Climate Survey to better understand how the district and individual schools engage with students, families, and staff. BSD spent the spring of 2018 conducting climate surveys, with more than 2,000 staff, students, and parents participating. The results of the survey, available on the District’s website, point to areas of strength and areas where growth is needed. https://www.bsdvt.org/climate-survey/
Superintendent Obeng noted that the District is in the process of presenting the data to each school, leaders throughout the district, the school board, central office, parents and the community. After each group has a chance to analyze and reflect on the information, the District will begin working together with stakeholders to set aspirational goals for improving the District’s learning and working environments.
“Acknowledging the data is the first step in building environmental coherence, and now that we have this quantitative data, we are working hard combine it with what we know from our qualitative efforts, and to dissect and learn from it,” said Superintendent Yaw Obeng. The Superintendent noted that the full reports for the District and each school are available on the website and that each report has a significant amount of information.
“It’s going to take some time to unpack all of the data, but on the surface, we are seeing that a few things are obvious. For example, the data suggests staff and parents believe that differences are respected in our district. This is very important to us because of the diversity we have and our desire to address the inequities of our district. Understanding and valuing one another’s differences helps us to improve student learning. However, parents and teachers seem to agree that the district has not been equitable in how it distributes resources across the district, and many do not believe the district feels like a positive community.”
Obeng noted that central office has already begun to support some restorative work currently underway on the District level. “As a result of our preliminary review, the leadership team has been working to incorporate a theme of building healthy relationships into the 2018-19 school year, starting with a districtwide in-service day focused on building healthy relationships among staff on August 24th. In addition, the entire year’s districtwide professional development opportunities have been dedicated to Restorative Practices.”
Obeng also noted that the District is taking a deeper look at why stakeholders feel resources are not allocated in an equitable fashion. “This is important for us to understand, especially as we enter this year’s budget process. I know we did a better job this year than in the past of holding public input sessions and trying to spread the word, particularly to sectors of our community that have gone unreached in the past. We are considering these improvements and trying to make our outreach even better going forward.”
Obeng encouraged stakeholders to review the data and begin thinking about and identifying ways to help improve BSD’s climate and culture. The District is planning to make an official presentation to the board at the November board meeting.
Burlington School District (BSD) is a pre-k-12 public school system of about 4,000 students in Burlington, VT. BSD’s mission is to graduate students who: value different cultures, engage with the community, communicate effectively, think creatively, skillfully solve problems, and achieve at their highest academic, intellectual, and personal potential.