August 25, 2020
Dear Burlington Community,
Last week staff returned to school on Thursday and I had the chance to visit with all of the faculty. They were energized and ready to return! This positive spirit among our educators speaks volumes about how much they care about their work and the community. It was refreshing to see staff in person with all the energy that goes along with prepping for the doors to open for our students.
On Thursday, Board Chair, Clare Wool, AFSCME President, Dwight Brown, Burlington Education Association President, Andrew Styles, BHS student Rory Stein, and I gave our “Welcome Back” address to staff (check it out below and be sure to read the ‘speaker notes’ in the Google slides to see what each employee’s supervisor or coworker had to add). We thanked staff for their commitment and highlighted the importance of collaboration and teamwork, and I gave the charge to focus on equity, engagement, and deep learning. It was wonderful to be able to stand alongside the district’s union partners and school board to deliver a heartfelt message of unity, optimism, and gratitude. I am so thankful for the partnership of our board and of union leaders in my first few months and as we plan a safe return to school.
Last week, we assigned “A” and “B” days to students. I want to thank you for your patience as we made these assignments. We are one of the few Districts to ask for parent input into which days work best. The result was a mammoth undertaking district-wide, but it reflects our core values of engagement and equity. If you still have questions or believe we made an error in your student’s placement, please contact your school directly so we can get your student placed before the start of school.
Finally, as we continue to get ready for the start of school, it is with a very heavy heart that I share the sad news that one of our incoming kindergarten students passed away last week in a drowning accident. My heart goes out to this family and our community is rallying to provide love and support.
Free Lunch at Champlain, EES, EMS, and BHS
Just last week I shared that we have been working on a plan to allow all students at Champlain, EES, EMS, and BHS to get lunch, including take-home meals on remote days, at no cost. These are our last four remaining “traditional schools,” as all of our other schools already qualify for every attending student to receive free lunch. I’m pleased to report that because of our efforts, BSD will be entering into an agreement with the AOE to allow for all students at these schools to receive FREE LUNCH for the 2020-21 school year, and if successful, until school year 2023-24! All students receive breakfast and supper at no charge, so the addition of free lunch will go a long way to combat hunger.
This will require a concerted effort to get every family at these schools to complete the online Free and Reduced Meal application as soon as possible. We need these applications completed to get the best possible funding for this program and to have the FRL data that many programs need for grants and other funding. Coronavirus has had many financial implications for families; If your student attends any of these schools, please fill out the application even if you haven’t qualified before.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to continue focusing on Engagement, one of my 100 Day Plan priorities. This week I will be attending five separate “School Reopening” Town Halls, alongside our Director of EL Programs and our multilingual liaisons, for families of students who are learning English. I’ll also be attending a similar Virtual Town Hall for our Special Education families on Thursday, Sept. 3rd (check out the updated webpage before the event). Both events will be recorded and then uploaded to YouTube for families who were unable to attend.
In addition, this month I will continue Zooming into and participating in City NPA’s and will continue joining principals school-based virtual Town Halls. I have enjoyed meeting and engaging with so many families these past few months and I am energized by the opportunities ahead. I hope to “see” many of you at one or more of these events in the coming weeks!
Our Athletics Department has completed the first version of the “BSD COVID-10 Athletics Handbook.” If you have students hoping to participate in middle or high school sports this year, please take a few minutes to review this document which should help answer many questions. Please note this is a living document, so please check back frequently for updates. If you still have questions, please contact Quaron Pinckney, District Coordinator – Head of Athletics.