On Wednesday, November 6th, Superintendent Obeng emailed District staff and parents regarding his decision to step down at the end of our current school year. Here is his message:
Dear BSD Community,
Throughout the last few months, I have met with many of you to talk about the future of Burlington School District and how the community and District can support each other for the betterment of our students and staff. These conversations have helped me reflect and realize what a personal and professional privilege it has been to lead this District as I enter my fifth year as Superintendent.
I am writing today because these last few months of conversations and reflections have also led me to believe that the systemic foundation has been laid to allow me to explore other personal and professional opportunities. I want to let the BSD staff and community know I have informed the Burlington Board of School Commissioners of my intention to step down as Superintendent of Burlington Schools at the end of this fiscal year. I had contemplated waiting to make this announcement until January but ultimately decided that by informing the board, staff, and community now, Burlington School District will have the best opportunity for a successful transition.
This decision has not been an easy one, but the rebuilt structures and stability will allow for a pathway of continuous progress. Our students have been recognized nationally each year for their creativity and scholarship. The finances in BSD are stronger than have been in more than a decade. We have a capital plan in place to address most of our District’s space constraints and aging infrastructure, and we’ve secured a bond to bring our High School into the 21st century. Our department leaders and Principals have fully embraced the quest for equity in all they do. The restructuring of Central Office has already improved HR and business office relationships, communication, and service. Restorative Practices work is gaining momentum in the District, and our staff is focused intensely on closing the achievement gap while raising the bar for all our students.
Most importantly though, I am excited about the level to which I have seen student voice elevated. Last year we saw Edmunds Middle School students receive more than 2,000 signatures on a petition to support eliminating the taxation of feminine hygiene products, students working for the BHS Register led the charge in support of free speech, middle schoolers investigated implicit racial biases within dress code regulations, and elementary students at Flynn rallied their community to build accessible playground equipment. More recently, BHS junior Kawther Hashim has become a force of nature for activism, and the BHS Varsity Girls’ Soccer Team has gone international with their message in support of equal pay for gender equality. These are only a few of the amazing things our students are doing.
Being that Thanksgiving is approaching, I have also been reflecting on how personally thankful I am for the support of community members and staff who have often reached out to offer words of encouragement or provide insight, feedback, and volunteer time. I am thankful for the past and current Board Members who have volunteered countless hours to support our youth. And I am thankful to the students who are leading the way. At the beginning of my tenure, we established a new Vision Statement in hopes to inspire excellence. I have seen the realization of the vision in our students, and to show my thankfulness and appreciation before the year is over, I will be working to establish a scholarship for a graduating student who exemplifies the vision of Burlington School District. “Cultivating Caring, Creative, and Courageous People- Join the Journey!”
Thank you for your time and for letting me “Join the Journey.”
Following the Superintendent’s email, the board released the following statement.
School Board Statement Regarding Superintendent’s Announcement
The Burlington Board of School Commissioners thanks Superintendent Obeng for his many accomplishments in serving the Burlington community during his five-year tenure. Under his leadership, the district’s finances are stronger than they have been in many years, our student voice is robust and engaged, our district’s commitment to an equitable and diverse workforce is steadfast, a 21st Century Ten-Year Capital Improvement Plan was created and initiated, and the Re-Envisioning of our High School and Tech Center is moving forward. The Burlington School District is poised for future success thanks in part to his leadership.
The Board respects Superintendent Obeng’s desire for new challenges and looks forward to his continued executive leadership for the remainder of this school year.
The Burlington School Board is prepared to immediately engage in a thorough nationwide search for our next Superintendent and is committed to ensuring a smooth transition for our District.