May 21, 2021
Dear BSD Community,
I am so proud of our ability to work together this school year to stay open in-person through the pandemic, to adjust to the closing of BHS, BTC, and OnTop, and to find new spaces for all of our 1100+ secondary students to access their education. Accomplishing this has taken exceptional partnership across our community, and our students benefited by being together and maintaining a level of consistency as the world reeled. Moving forward, I am filled with optimism as our community gets vaccinated and we plan for end-of-year celebrations, summer programming, and next school year. As we make these plans, our theme is on connection; we will focus on joy for learning and on reconnecting while paying attention to our relationships and our well-being as individuals and as a community.
We are looking forward to offering in-person promotion and graduation ceremonies this year. This planning is challenging as we manage the mixed emotions of anxiety and excitement to loosened restrictions. To balance these concerns and to adhere to State guidance, attendance will need to be limited and masks will be required. (We will also stream many of the live events.) I am excited to participate for my first time in these celebratory experiences… we certainly deserve some time together to celebrate!
Now more than ever summer programs are vital to providing our students with opportunities to re-engage, learn, gain new experiences, and have fun in a safe environment. Summer programming is a key piece of our Recovery Planning and we have worked internally to expand District programming. We are also collaborating with a number of partners to provide Burlington families with free programs, expanded access, transportation, and/or new programs for students K-12. We are excited to share our plans, including how to register for these programs, within the next two weeks.
Lastly, the Governor recently announced that vaccinated individuals no longer have to mask or social distance at any indoor or outdoor events. Because we follow the AOE Strong and Healthy Year Guidelines, all schools and school events, regardless of whether or not participants are vaccinated, will continue to require masks and social distancing unless we hear otherwise from the AOE.
Please see below for some important BSD updates.
Vaccines for Children Aged 12-18 – On May 10, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in people 12-15 years old. On May 12, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a panel of public health and medical experts who make recommendations to CDC, recommended the vaccine. The CDC adopted the recommendation and Vermont has started administering the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine to 12-15-year-olds. To learn more about how to get your children vaccinated, please visit the Vermont Department of Health website.
Police Chief Search – Meet with Mayor Weinberger – As part of a month-long public engagement effort, Mayor Weinberger is looking to connect with a small group of BSD staff and families around the search for a new Police Chief for Burlington. This engagement includes a community survey and meeting with focused sectors to seek feedback on what those stakeholder groups would like to see in the City’s next Police Chief. The city is looking for around 15 interested staff and families to meet with Miro via Zoom on Tuesday, May 25 from 4:30-5:30pm. If you are interested and available on Tuesday, please complete this simple form.
Strategic Plan – This month we began working with the Center for Innovative Education to support the development of our strategic plan. We are excited to launch our strategic planning process next week. Look for a separate email early next week that will include ways to engage us and our partners. Thank you for engaging in this process and helping to co-construct our next plan!
Equitable Budgeting & Staffing – Our Equitable Budgeting and Staffing Workgroup has concluded student focus group sessions and reviewed feedback from the community survey (which received hundreds of responses). After exploring several different ways of allocating resources, the workgroup has focused its efforts on a hybrid approach that allocates staff using student ratios and allocates non-personnel funds using a weighted student funding model. An additional allocation (distributed on the basis of student need) would be made to each school specifically to support investments intended to advance our equity goals. They have begun development on this model and will give an update on this important project at Monday night’s Finance Committee meeting. This update will preview material being prepared for the June 1 Board Meeting and allow for some questions and feedback from the committee with a particular emphasis on the public engagement component of our budget process.
New BHS/BTC Location – This week, we selected local real estate development consultants White + Burke to complete Phase 1 of our site selection process. Phase 1 will involve a search and high-level evaluation for sites throughout the city that could potentially host a new high school and tech center. The consultants will meet with select staff, including the BHS Principal and BTC Director, to discuss possible criteria for the evaluation of candidate sites. Conversations with school board members will also be scheduled, with the goal of bringing forward proposed evaluation criteria at the June 15 school board meeting for public review and discussion. At the August 3 school board meeting, a high-level evaluation of potential sites will be shared with the board with a recommendation to proceed to a more detailed site assessment of the most viable locations.
PCBs on Institute Road – We are preparing for another round of indoor air sampling in A building to ensure that we can continue to occupy and use some of the spaces in A building (such as the gymnasium and kitchen). This round of air testing is expected to occur during the first week of June, with results by the end of the month.
Recovery Planning – We have created a public-facing Recovery Planning webpage on our site, accessible via the drop-down menu labeled District Overview, as well as on the District Overview page’s right-hand menu. The page includes members of the team, information on time frames, our Needs Assessment, and much more.
EMS and BHS Hiring – As some of you may know, EMS Principal Keifer and BHS Director of Guidance Hughart have accepted new and exciting positions outside of our District. Please join us in wishing them well. We are moving forward with hiring for these positions now, along with hiring a new assistant principal at BHS to fulfill Lauren McBride’s previous role. Our goal is to have all of our leadership teams fully staffed and ready to begin by July 1. Please stay tuned for more details!
AOE Survey for Parents of Students with Disabilities – The Agency of Education will be emailing a survey to parents of students with disabilities on June 1, 2021. We will be urging families to complete it so we can work toward improving services. We have been told it won’t be translated into any languages, so our Special Education Department and the EL Department will work closely to identify families who are eligible to take the survey and offer assistance completing it.
Substitute Teachers: In just one day, YOU can make a difference. Consider being a substitute teacher for BSD! If you’re interested in learning more, Kelly Services, our daily substitute teacher supplier, is hosting a virtual job fair on Wednesday, May 26. Interested? Fill out this short form and Kelly Services will be in touch!
BTC Student Wins VHSA Contest – Will Devereux, a first-year student in BTC’s Digital Media Lab, won the 2021 #802phonesdown!headsup! video contest from the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance (VHSA), in conjunction with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April. First prize for the competition was $750 and Will was eager to spend the prize money on more camera equipment. Great job Will!
BTC Student Wins 40th Annual Congressional Art Competition – In a zoom meeting with talented high school artists from across Vermont last week, Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) announced the winners of the 40th Annual Congressional Art Competition. Winning first place was Patient Mwibeleca of Burlington Technical Center. His striking photograph, “Selfie Mirror,” was selected by judges from a field of 160 entries from students representing high schools across Vermont. BTC Design Illustration students Emma Baldwin won Honorable mention for her artwork “Scream,” and “Pride,” by Jaydyne Crowder, Winooski, Burlington Technical Center, Computer-Generated Art.
Will Devereux’s PSA: