August 6, 2021
Hello BSD Community,
I hope you are enjoying your summer as much as I am. It has been great to be able to connect with family and friends and feel like things are getting closer to normal. I want to assure you that your school leaders have been meeting weekly to plan a safe and joyful reopening, and we are prepared and excited to welcome students back to school on August 25th!
On Wednesday, August 4, the Vermont Department of Education recommended that “schools should require universal masking for all students and staff when indoors for the first 10 instructional days of the school year.” Following those first 10 days, schools can drop mask mandates for students 12 and over in any school where the student vaccination rate is equal to or greater than 80% of the school’s eligible population. In addition, masks should not be required when outdoors at this time. I want to let you know that BSD is planning to follow these recommendations. We will begin the year with two critical safety measures – requiring masks and asking staff and students to stay home when they are sick. We are also hosting multiple vaccination clinics and creating a system to identify our current vaccination rates in our schools.
We are working with the Vermont Department of Health to offer vaccination clinics at Edmunds Middle School on August 16, September 6, and September 27 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you or your eligible family member have not yet received a vaccine, this will be a great opportunity to do so. We will send more information on registration as soon as we get it. Of course, if you don’t want to wait, you can make an appointment for a free vaccine near you today.
Finally, as we continue preparing for the new year, I want to thank all of the BSD staff involved in offering summer programming this year. From helping partners build capacity to offering new opportunities in-house and bringing familiar programs back to full strength, I am impressed and appreciative of the work to keep students engaged, safe, and connected to their learning and to each other this summer. Please enjoy some photos below!
See you on August 25!
Hiring Update – As you know, BSD is always hiring! We have worked hard to ensure that we will have staff to open safely and offer a great learning experience, and we still have a few positions we are seeking to fill in the coming weeks. Most critically, we need people to join our property services, food services, and afterschool teams. We also have openings for soccer coaches and football assistants, as well as a few teacher and para positions that have opened up in the past few days; while we do have strong candidates, we welcome you to apply or spread the word! Check out our job openings today.
Dress Code Update – I have heard repeatedly from families and students that the practice of policing students for wearing hoods has been inequitable, I have observed uneven implementation of this policy, and I do not believe there is strong rationale for this rule. As such, we will no longer have a “no hood rule” and students will be allowed to wear their hoods if they choose. While we continue to have high expectations for ourselves and our students, these high expectations will be focused on fostering a restorative community and on student engagement and learning, rather than on an inequitable rule. Thank you to our student advocates as well as the staff who have listened to our student concerns about our implementation of this policy. Please contact me directly if you have any questions about this change.
Free School Lunches Continue this Year – We are pleased to announce that again this year, all meals in all schools, including BTC, will be provided at no charge to all students. Thank you to our incredible food services team for feeding our students year-round!
BHS/BTC Site Search – The results of Phase I of the BHS/BTC site search will be presented at the August 17 school board meeting; please save the date and plan to join us in person at Sustainability Academy or via Zoom. Following this meeting, the project will shift to Phase II, which will entail a thorough analysis of the most promising sites, with the goal of arriving at a preferred site to locate the new BTH/BTC campus. Our goal remains to place a bond question on the Town Meeting Day ballot.
PCBs – While we work to identify a new site for BTC and BHS, we also asked consultants to give us a cost estimate for the full demolition and remediation of the environmental contamination at 52 Institute Road, including not only PCBs, but asbestos and solid-containing development contaminants as well. At our July 20 Facilities Committee Meeting, Director Spaulding shared that this preliminary cost estimate has come in at nearly $20 million. While the board has yet to decide on full demolition at this site, the cost estimate is intended to support the decision-making process.
BHS and EMS Leadership Teams – Please join us in welcoming our new additions to the BHS and EMS leadership teams! At BHS, are welcoming three new assistant principals: Melanee Alexander, Kate Paxton (who will serve as the new Assistant Principal of Student Supports), and Francesca Dupuis, who was promoted from within BHS! LeVar Barrio will also take on more responsibility as 9th Grade Dean of Students, and Quaron Pickney, our District Athletic Director, will also join the BHS leadership team. At EMS, we are pleased to welcome Nikki Ellis as our new AP!
DtBHS Enhancements – Summer enhancements to DtBHS are underway, including acoustic improvements like connecting the walls to the ceiling around the elevators and at other key locations. Additional doors will also be added in some locations. These enhancements, which were identified as the priority investments by the BHS leadership, have an estimated cost of approximately $250,000, which is the amount of funding assigned to this purpose by the board at the June school board meeting.
Strategic Plan – Community partners and staff have interviewed dozens of people in the community and our Strategic Planning Coalition, who will be driving our work, has been formed. If you are interested in being interviewed or helping us interview community members, please contact Victor Prussack today: email@example.com
Superintendent Advisory Group – Want to be involved in creating an even more equitable, open, welcoming, and successful school district? Consider joining the Superintendent Family Advisory Group or Student Advisory Group for a chance to give feedback and shape the District’s work alongside me and other District staff. The Family Advisory Group is composed of about 16 district parents/caregivers representative of each of our schools and The Student Advisory Group is made up of 5th through 12th-grade students from each school. Each group meets monthly during the school year to discuss a variety of topics, share information, and broaden understanding of school-related issues. Check out our Advisory Group web page full descriptions, or apply below!
To join the Family Advisory Group, please complete the Family Advisory Group application by August 30, 2021. (Our first meeting will be on September 14, and we meet from 6:30-7:45 PM.)
To join the Student Advisory Group, please complete the Student Advisory Group application by August 30, 2021. (We meet on the 1st Wednesday of every month from 3:30-5:00 PM.)
Athletics – Don’t forget! Anyone in grades 6-12 interested in participating in sports needs to register on FormReLeaf. Please remember to provide updated physical and insurance information (within the past two years as of August 2021). Students will not be allowed to participate until that information is received. Also, check out burlingtonathletics.com, now our home for district-wide athletics. Please be mindful that it is still under construction, but Fall game schedules have begun to be released here.
Kindergarten Family Connection Project – We are excited to announce a new pilot program called the Kindergarten Family Connection Project! As one of our engagement strategies in our Recovery Plan, kindergarten teachers from IAA and SA will be available to make home visits with new kindergarten students and families prior to the start of the school year. Research shows that home visits from early educators have a wide range of benefits including allowing families to establish connections early on and helping teachers get to know children so they can make learning more meaningful and personal. Each teacher, along with a colleague from their respective schools, will meet with interested families at the home, inside or outside, or at a nearby park, school, or another location meaningful to each child. Visits will be approximately 30 minutes and participation is optional. Teachers and families will talk about hopes and dreams for their child’s kindergarten year. Teachers will ask the students questions to get to know them better and bring a small activity to complete together. They will also answer questions families might have and share a resource or two that they plan to use this year in the classroom. The plan is to implement this in these two schools this year and look to expand it to all schools next summer.
Athletics Connection and reEngagement (ACE) – The BSD Athletic Department has launched the ACE project, designed and co-facilitated by BSD Athletic Department intern Allie Brown (BHS Class of ‘18) and Keith Brown (Flynn Elementary Teacher). The project consists of surveys and FAQ’s to collect Street Data for the Athletic Department and to help boost student engagement in extracurricular activities. Please respond to any emails you see from Allie at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Parent University – After a truly unbelievable year, we are happy to announce that 66 parents graduated from Parent University this year! Thank you to everyone who joined us last week to celebrate this accomplishment.
Crossing Guards – As we get ready for school to start, City of Burlington Public Works is looking to fill a few more crossing guard positions. Earn $171.74 Weekly, working just under two hours a day. Apply today!
Summer SUCCESS Program – Our summer SUCCESS Program was an outstanding success. Our teachers are telling us that some students made a full semester’s gain in just 5 weeks! We had 20 students participate in our summer program, including learning English and Math in the mornings and participating in enrichment activities in the afternoon. Our new enrichment program included new experiences of visiting the Shelburne Museum, taking a ride on the Spirit of Ethan Allen, and getting creemees at the waterfront.