May 3, 2021
Good morning BSD Community,
Thank you all for making last week a success! It is hard to believe that Friday was the first time elementary students went to school each day of the week since March of last year. And I was so happy to see middle school students return to four days of in-person instruction. The highlight of my week was participating in the Abnaki land dedication at Champlain Elementary School, where students celebrated their new land dedication sign, spoke about the importance of recognizing indigenous people, including in our own community, and sang and drummed alongside Bryan Blanchette. Thank you again to everyone who played a role in ensuring we can offer as much in-person learning as possible, and thank you particularly to those engaging our students in equity-minded, deep learning experiences like the land dedication at Champlain.
Switching gears, I want to let you know that tomorrow (Tuesday) night will be an important school board meeting for our District. I plan to suggest to the board that we officially end the BHS/BTC ReEnvisioning project and begin to pursue other options for our high school. Last month, I gave an update to the Burlington Board of School Commissioners noting increasing concerns regarding the extent of PCB contamination at 52 Institute Road. The Board then participated in a robust conversation (recorded by Media Factory) regarding the feasibility of the BHS/BTC ReEnvisioning plan now that we have much more information about the extent of the PCB contamination and the cost associated with remediation. Tomorrow we will continue that discussion and I hope you will join us via zoom or on our Facebook page for this important conversation.
At the meeting, the board will also vote on my final recommendation for the next principal of Burlington High School and we will discuss the 2019-2020 Equity and Inclusion Data Report and its implications on our work for students.
Please see below for a few other important updates,
Recovery Planning – Education recovery is the next important step towards full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Government is allocating funds to States and directing them to spend those funds to support recovery efforts at the state level. As part of that process, the AOE has laid out a process for all school districts to begin developing a plan that focuses on supporting student learning, engagement, and social and emotional wellbeing. We have begun that work, please see below for an update. (We are also working on a more public-facing website that will include this information and more, and we hope to have that ready next week.)
Needs Assessment – Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, BSD Staff has engaged with students, families, and the community to support instructional models (in-person, hybrid, and fully remote). With ongoing guidance and support from the AOE, we can now begin planning our vision for what the BSD education framework will look like in the months and years ahead. As part of this work, BSD has completed and submitted our Phase 1 – BSD Comprehensive Needs Assessment to the AEO.
Timeline – Recovery work will start in June and continue until September 2024, which will allow us time to integrate the strategies for recovery into our strategic planning process that is beginning this month. Below is the AOE’s timeline for districts working on recovery planning; we are currently meeting the AOE’s expectations.
Phase 1: Organization (Completed by March 15, 2021) A recovery team is established in each district and a recovery coordinator is identified. State support teams will convene regional meetings to orient district teams to the recovery work.
Phase 2: Needs Assessment (Completed by April 15, 2021) Each district team will assess district conditions and preliminary student status in the three foci areas, using materials provided by the AOE.
Phase 3: Planning (Completed by June 1, 2021) Each district team will create a recovery plan and submit it to the AOE for approval. State support teams will convene regional meetings to facilitate the sharing of regional strategies.
Phase 4: Implementation (Begins after Phase 3 approval) Districts will begin to implement the strategies developed in their plans, including a strategy for summer programming.
Support the AAPI Community Event at BSD May 7, 2021 5:00-6:00 PM This virtual event is hosted by the BSD Office of Equity and is open to all Asian, Asian-American, Pacific Islanders, and non-Asian parents of Asian children in the greater Burlington community. Come learn about what BSD is doing to address Anti-Asian racism and participate in breakout rooms to share your concerns and make recommendations to the school district. Vietnamese, Karen, Burmese and Nepali translation is available. Join via Zoom
Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth May 12, 6:00 – 7:00 pm Come learn more about how to support LGBTQ youth in schools and at home in partnership with Mara Iverson from Outright VT and a BSD youth panel. Join via Zoom and don’t forget to RSVP and invite your friends and neighbors on Facebook!
Travel Audits – Our work to develop Travel and Traffic Control Plans for schools is moving forward. The project team has developed two ways to gather input and hear about issues that may occur when traveling to school. The first is a survey that can give the team insight into how and why people choose to travel to schools the way they do. The second is an actual tool that allows you to pinpoint problem areas on your commute. I do want to note that this project is designed to create long-term action plans and could result in suggestions such as future road, sidewalk, and infrastructure upgrades. Because of this, we have decided to focus our efforts on the BTC/BHS 52 Institute Road campus. We recognize that very few people are traveling to that location, and so we’ll be looking for other ways to complete our travel audits while encouraging BHS/BTC families, students, and staff to share their experiences traveling to the original location, despite its future being in flux. Please find the surveys and audit tool below and more information on our website. I hope you will consider helping us create these new travel plans for our schools (look for a text and email reminder Friday morning!).
- PreK-8th Grade Travel Survey
- Highschool Travel Survey
- Walk/Bike Audits via your cell phone or printable paper form
Athletics – We started off the Spring preseason with some beautiful weather! But of course, as typical of a Vermont spring, we’ve seen quite a bit of rain, and even some snow in the first couple weeks of competitions. Nonetheless, we are pressing forward! Things are beginning to open up in many respects. Beginning May 1, the outdoor spectator limit increased to 300 from 150, as will the number of athletes allowed at one event. We will continue to keep our contact tracing in place in an effort to keep our community safe and to keep our students playing. We absolutely want spectators to support our athletes, but we ask that you still continue to mask up and practice physical distancing.
Equitable Budgeting and Staffing – Our Equitable Budgeting and Staffing Workgroup has begun designing an equity-focused budget allocation model. After exploring several ways of allocating resources, the workgroup has focused its efforts on a hybrid approach that allocates staff using student ratios and non-personnel funds using a weighted student funding model. Additional allocations would be distributed to schools to support investments intended to advance our equity goals. Stay tuned for more as the group works to refine the model.
EES Year of the Book – Congratulations to Edmunds Elementary Librarian Kathy Neil and Reading Specialist Erin Webster for securing a CLiF Year of the Book grant! The grant is to support a culture of literacy at EES and in the community, using books that recognize and support equity and the diversity of our students. On Sunday morning, Kathy and Erin were featured on WCAX in a story about the grant.
Champlain Partnership with Grow Wild Vermont – Champlain School has begun a partnership with Grow Wild Vermont and in an effort to beautify our campus and teach about local indigenous plants we have begun planting on our campus. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be rehoming to Champlain native plants and trees to: create a wildlife corridor on the property, create partner trees on the front side of campus, and create a sound and smog-eating buffer in front of our parking lot. The project partners with friends from the UVM’s 206 cohort and will be a multi-year, multi-stage event.
Flynn ANTI-BULLYING BULLETIN BOARD – Flynn 5th graders are actively working to erase bullying from their school. Check out their school bulletin board below and this message to the community: “As 5th Graders, we want to set an example on what it means to stand up against bullying. We asked teachers to share the anti-bullying promise with their students and had them trace their hands and write a sentence on why they stand against bullying. We then created this bulletin board. I make a COMMITMENT to take a stand against bullying. I will treat others with RESPECT and KINDNESS. I will have the COMPASSION to not be a bully and the COURAGE to not be a bystander. It is my RESPONSIBILITY to help others being bullied and to report bullying.”