The 2022/2023 BSD calendar has been approved by the Burlington Board of School Commissioners! Our first student day will be Wednesday, August 31st, in alignment with the other districts in our region. Barring changes from Snow Days, our anticipated final day will Wednesday, June 14, 2023.
School districts across Vermont are entering into “Budget Season” and Burlington School District (BSD) is pleased to announce a new budgeting model that will place more control of school budgets in the hands of principals and school communities. The District’s new “Equitable Budgeting and Staffing Model” strives to allocate resources based on student enrollment and need, seeks to build school-based engagement, and creates a new equity allocation for schools to use in efforts to close the opportunity gap. Leaders will share how budgeting will look different this year at a virtual “Equitable Budgeting Kickoff” event on October 4th at 6 PM over Zoom. Changes have also been laid out in a new BSD Budget Development Guide.
“I’m really pleased to be embarking on this new way of thinking about funding schools,” said BSD Superintendent Tom Flanagan. “We’ve spent the last year working with district leaders, teachers, students, and stakeholders on a model that is fair, predictable, equity-focused, and empowering for principals who know their buildings and student needs better than anyone.”
New to the budget process will be the Recognizing Injustice and Seeking Equity (or RISE) Allocation that each school will receive. After determining baseline staff models and resource needs, each school will receive an additional sum of money designed to help schools implement ideas and strategies designed to close the opportunity gap that exists in BSD. RISE Allocations will be based on a weighted pupil formula based, in part, on the Pupil Weighting Factors Report prepared by the Vermont Agency of Education in partnership with the University of Vermont, Rutgers University, and American Institutes for Research. Once funds for schools are determined, school leaders will work with School Advisory Groups to identify focus areas of needs and create proposals to address those needs.
“This is a great step towards our school district and our community living our values around equity,” said Kevin Robinson, Principal of Integrated Art Academy and a member of the Equitable Budget and Staffing Work Group. “I am excited about the possibilities this will offer principals and community members to have more say in how schools are funded, and how those funds may create more equitable outcomes for students.”
The public is invited to learn more about this new Equitable Budgeting and Staffing Model at a kickoff event on October 4th at 6 PM virtually over Zoom; the meeting will also be streamed and recorded on the District YouTube channel.
Visit our Facebook page to RSVP and invite your friends and colleagues. See you there!
FREE FAMILY MEAL KITS
Burlington School Food Project is providing free boxes of food for families available at 10 sites throughout the city. Each meal kit is intended to cover breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks for one child for one week (7 days)! You can pick up food boxes Friday, December 18, Wednesday, December 23rd, and Wednesday, December 30th. You can get one box per child in your household under 19 years of age, and you do not have to have your child with you to pick up food. Please see more information below or contact Doug Davis with any questions.
Friday, December 18
3:00-4:30 PM BHS Parking, Sustainability Academy, Champlain Elementary
5:00-6 PM Boys & Girls Club of Burlington
Riverside Apartments 12:30-1 PM (Time is approximate. Contact Boys & Girls Club if you need assistance.)
Salmon Run 12:45- 1:15 PM (Time is approximate. Contact Boys & Girls Club if you need assistance.)
Wednesdays, December 23rd and 30th
3:00-4:30 PM BHS, Sustainability Academy, Champlain Elementary, Boys & Girls Club (this is a new time for the Club, for break weeks only)
Bobbin Mill 11:00-11:30 AM
Franklin Square 11:00-11:30 AM
South Meadow 11:45 AM -12:15 PM
Northgate 11:45 AM -12:15 PM
Riverside Apartments 5:30 PM
Salmon Run 6:00 PM
Students to Lead Ceremonies Throughout November and December –
By Autumn Bangor and Russ Elek
In July, the Burlington School District (BSD) joined the City of Burlington and other community partners in declaring Racism a Public Health Emergency. As part of the announcement, BSD committed to flying the Black Lives Matter flag at all school properties. On Tuesday, September 15, 2020, the Burlington Board of School Commissioners passed a resolution to support this effort and this November and December, all students at all BSD schools, as well as several community partners, will begin the process of raising the flags in small, private ceremonies. The work began on Friday, November 13 when students raised the flag at BHS, CP Smith, and Ira Allen PreSchool.
“The raising of the Black Lives Matter flag symbolically represents the commitments of allyship, anti-racist practices, diversity and inclusion, justice, and equity set forth by Burlington School District,” said Superintendent Tom Flanagan. “This is a great symbol of equity, but it is only a starting point. I’m proud of our principals and teachers who have taken the opportunity to connect these flag-raisings directly to classroom curriculum and learning. By having students involved in the ceremonies and age-appropriate conversations around race and equity, we can ensure that the flags are truly an outward representation of what is happening inside our schools.”
BSD’s Office of Equity has spent the last several months working directly with students, teachers, and administrators to embed anti-racist curriculum and assist schools in raising the flag. They also developed Black Lives Matter FAQ to share with staff and community.
Because each school’s ceremony will be student-led, no two will look alike. Some will feature speeches, readings, or artwork, others will feature students singing or participating in drum circles, and one school will even feature a live performance from A2VT. Though every ceremony will look different, all will be rooted in themes of social justice, anti-racism, and equality. Schools are supplementing the events through classroom activities such as creating Black Lives Matter-themed artwork, crafting anti-racist statements, holding class-wide discussions, and utilizing Restorative Practices techniques such as community circles and one-on-one check-ins.
“We are living in a historic moment of racial reckoning as we watch our country come to terms with its history and present while living within the dual pandemics of racism and Covid-19 and the disproportionate impact on BIPOC communities,” said BSD Director of Equity, Sparks. “Systemic racism and racial injustice have a presence in our everyday lives, continuing to foster fear, trauma, and inequity, while undoubtedly denying our neighbors and fellow community members who are people of color their most fundamental rights. We at BSD strongly denounce racism in all its forms and we are dedicated to examining our practices, policies, and procedures in order to eradicate systemic racism in our school community. We believe Black Lives Matter and stand in solidarity with Black students, faculty, and staff, and we are grateful for the efforts of Burlington High School and Edmunds Middle School students who helped open our eyes and pave the way by working to raise the BLM flag at their schools.”
Sparks noted that student activists have long been asking for racial injustice to be recognized at the BSD. In February 2018, BHS Social Justice Union activists petitioned the BSD School Board to raise the Black Lives Matter flag at BHS, becoming the second school in Vermont and the second school in the nation to do so. The following year, EMS students, with the help of the University of Vermont-supported Youth-led Participatory Action Research group successfully petitioned to raise a BLM flag on the Edmunds campus.
“As our nation grapples with anti-Black violence, we recognize that systemic racism has persisted in our nation for centuries and we acknowledge the part that schools play in ending this plague,” Superintendent Flanagan added. “There is much work to be done and while the flag’s symbolism is important, our solidarity must be backed by actions such as the ones happening in our classrooms today.”
Due to COVID protocols, this year’s ceremonies will be smaller and will not be open to the public. However, many of the ceremonies will be captured through videos and photos and shared through school and District social media and newsletters in the coming weeks. RETN at the Media Factory will also work with the District to create a video showcasing efforts across the District. The public is encouraged to tune into the District’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube accounts to see footage from the events.
***Schedule and Locations (Every Wednesday and Friday)***
BHS Parking Lot
In response to the August 11th update to the Agency of Education’s “A Strong and Healthy Start Guidance,” we have created a tool in PowerSchool that will allow families to complete student health screenings at home each morning before leaving for school. Please check out the video for a look at how to complete the daily form, then login to your BSD PowerSchool account to complete the screening.
Remember, it will be important to complete the screening before 7:30 AM each morning, if possible, because at 7:30 each morning, staff will download a report to see who has completed the screening. Those who did not complete the screening prior to 7:30 AM will have to complete the screening on-site prior to building entry. Once students arrive, staff will verify which students still need to be screened and confirm students are fever-free.
BSD invites members of the community to participate in a School Safety Task Force as requested in the Board of School Commissioners’ resolution passed on June 25, 2020. The resolution charges the School Safety Task Force with reviewing the role of School Resource Officers (SROs) and presenting recommendations to further the district’s policy goals of implementing all elements of Restorative Practices (RP) as part of the district priorities of equitable and safe inclusive schools.
Those interested in joining the School Safety Task Force should complete the application today.
The School Safety Task Force’s charge is to present a plan that accomplishes the following objectives:
– Identify and document the original intention of the SRO presence in the schools and the functions SROs perform in the school.
– Determine whether any of these functions must be performed by uniformed law enforcement officials. Which functions are done jointly with BSD staff?
– Develop options for alternative approaches that reinforce a restorative model for all of Burlington’s students/youth during and outside school hours.
– Ensure the safety of all of Burlington’s students/youth during and outside of school hours using a Restorative Practices model that eliminates the traumatizing effects associated with weapons, uniforms, and a police presence communicated by some of the district’s students and community members.
Per the resolution, the School Safety Task Force must be comprised not more than nine people, including school district leaders, school commissioners or their designee, a city councilor or their designee, a student, a parent, and a community member with lived experience with SRO’s, restorative practices, law enforcement, criminal justice reform, and youth development.
The School Safety Task Force will meet for at least two hours a week for two months and produce a report of recommendations by December 2020. This is a voluntary role; there is no compensation for participating in this Task Force. Applicants will need to be available to attend all meetings, both in-person and remotely.
Tuesday is the day! Here are a few more updates to help everyone be prepared for school this year.
Online Health Screenings: Before students leave home each day, all families should complete an online screening form through their PowerSchool account. The form contains four questions, including asking about fevers, other COVID systems, physical distancing, and travel. The form takes less than 30 seconds to complete per child, and includes instructions on what do if any of the questions are answered “yes” (in most cases, the student should not leave home for school). Step-by-step instructions can be seen here and a tutorial video is available on the District YouTube page.
Masks: As you know, masks will be required by all staff and students this year. Schools will be providing a few masks for all students next week. Please check out this quick resource for tips on how to wear and care for masks.
Bussing: At around 1 PM today we learned that GMT that that will be increasing the occupancy limits up to 30 passengers on their largest buses starting tomorrow, Saturday, September 5. This is great news for BSD and we are grateful. However, please remember that even with the increase, this is still only about half the capacity we usually have. We still encourage students to seek alternative transportation if at all possible.
Guidance: Please visit our website to access BSD Reopening Guidance, Version 2. This document has a lot of new information that you can find in green. We also used the strikethrough function so that you can see what changes have been made.
Town Halls: To help answer questions, we have participated in and hosted a number of Town Halls this week and many are available on the District YouTube Channel including:
BSD Reopening Town Hall with Special Education Focus
Message of Patience: Finally, we want to remind you that this year will look different. Please remember that Tuesday will be our first attempt at welcoming students back in school since March. With new safety protocols, things may take longer than in previous years. If you’re doing drop off Tuesday or Thursday, please remain patient with us.
Thank you, we can’t wait to welcome students back!
The BSD Reopening Team
August 6, 2020
Hello BSD Community,
We’ve had another productive week focused on preparing for reopening. Thank you for your engagement (and patience!) through this process. We have received many thoughtful questions, suggestions, and offers of partnership from across the city. Our planning process has been and continues to be intentional and thoughtful; every decision we make prioritizes equity, engagement, deep learning, and the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and community.
This past week, I’ve been meeting with school faculty across the district and we are having positive conversations about reopening. Andrew Styles (Burlington Education Association President) and Becca McCray (COVID-Coordinator, Edmunds MS School Nurse, and President-elect of the School Nurses Association) are joining me in these meetings. As you can imagine there are a lot of questions, and all ideas we hear are making our plans better. From these conversations, it is clear to me that our staff are committed to serving our students and our community, and they are gearing up for in-person instruction in September.
We are also excited to provide BSD-specific reopening guidance this week, and a survey so we can hear your preferences around the start of the school year. Please see below for a number of important updates, including our Enrollment Survey, the new start date for school (September 8), and information regarding our Reopening Guidance document.
Enrollment Preferences Survey – Parents, we are ready to hear your preferences regarding options for this coming fall, including whether you plan to have your student access their education through the hybrid model or through 100% remote learning. For those of you who are choosing the Hybrid model, you will also be asked if you prefer “A” Days (Mondays and Thursdays) or “B” Days (Tuesdays and Fridays) and why. Please remember, we will do our very best to accommodate schedules but there is a possibility not every family will receive their first choice of hybrid days.
The survey also asks about access to transportation, thermometers, food, and internet. The feedback obtained through this survey will be CRUCIAL to our planning team. Thank you for your response, please complete the Student Enrollment Survey in Powerschool today. Once you log-in, you will find the survey in the “Forms” section on the left side of the page. Click on forms and then scroll down to until you reach the “Reopening Enrollment” section where the form is located. Please note that you will need to complete this form for each of your students in the District. If you need help completing your students’ forms, please call our central office at 802-865-5332 ext. 1 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New School Start Day, September 8 – On July 31 Governor Scott’s office issued an Executive Order (signed July 29, 2020) to delay the start of all schools in Vermont until Tuesday, September 8th. This will allow more time for staff to plan the reopening at their schools prior to school reopening. We will abide by Governor Scott’s Executive Order and are awaiting additional guidance from the AOE regarding the impact of the order on a number of decisions including but not limited to teacher workdays and student instructional days. At this time, we are planning for all teachers and paras to begin work on August 20 and will continue to communicate with staff and union representatives leading up then.
Guidance – As we prepare for Reopening BSD, we know parents and staff have many questions. Please visit our Reopening Task Force website for version one of our Reopening BSD guidance document. It is important to note that this document will be updated between now and the start of school. We still have additional details to put into our plans and as you know, guidance from state and federal agencies is continually changing. I hope this document provides a solid baseline understanding of our plans to date and I encourage all staff and parents to continue to reach out with questions, comments, and suggestions.
ABCAB Model – Last week I communicated the District’s decision to implement an ABCAB Hybrid Model, where “A” Days are Mondays and Thursdays, and “B” Days are Tuesday and Fridays. This is an example of a decision not made lightly, and one that prioritizes equity, deep learning, and safety.
After careful consideration, our Reopening Task Force decided upon the current model after consulting principals and health professionals. Ultimately, we decided the ABCAB model would better support social-emotional learning, allowing for more regular contact between staff and students, as well as students with their peers. In an AACBB model, we would have gone 5 days each week in-between seeing students. An ABCAB model allows us to reduce that large amount of time, which will better support student learning.
Additionally, we determined that in our District the ABCAB model makes it much easier to ensure food access for our food-insecure families by allowing for additional meal distribution days between remote learning days. And this model offers much better continuity of learning, particularly for our EL, special education, and high-need students.
And finally, the science now shows that this disease primarily spreads person to person through the air, not from surfaces to a person. As we will be wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing and hand washing frequently, the cleaning done on a daily basis in our buildings is sufficient between pods. The deep cleaning on Wednesday will ensure our building remains extra clean every week, but we feel the possible benefits of deep cleaning between pods (the AABCC model) do not outweigh the negative effects of 5 consecutive days away from school every week. While no hybrid model is perfect, we feel an ABCAB model better ensures “whole health” (physical, mental, social-emotional) for every student.
New Hire – BSD is thrilled to have Quaron “Q” Pinckney join our team as our new District Coordinator – Head of Athletics. Quaron joins at an exciting time as we explore how to make athletics part of our larger reopening plans while ensuring the safety of our student-athletes and coaches. Welcome Q!
July 23, 2020
I am writing to provide you with an update on our plans to reopen our school buildings. To start the school year, Burlington School District, along with all 16 school districts covering Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle Counties who are members of the Champlain Valley Superintendents Association (CVSA), will implement a hybrid instruction model that will include both in-person and remote learning. This plan to return to school is student-centered, focused on social-emotional needs, and designed to keep our students learning at a high level. Most importantly, a hybrid model affords the ability to offer in-person learning in the safest environment possible while adhering to the best practices of the guidance issued by the Vermont Agency of Education (AOE). Here’s how the hybrid model will work:
Students will be divided into two groups.
Groups will attend school in-person two days a week and learn remotely three days a week.
Students and staff attending in person will wear masks and practice physical distancing.
Groups will be thoughtfully created so they best support families, including grouping family members together whenever possible.
We are working on scheduling and will have that information to families as soon as possible.
Almost all students will be learning remotely on Wednesdays. We will use this day to provide individualized support to students, engage in professional learning and planning for our staff, and deep clean our buildings.
While we all agree that nothing compares to the benefits that students receive from in-person instruction, after extensively reviewing the AOE’s guidance and evaluating how to operationally implement those requirements and recommendations in our schools, reviewing survey submissions from our families and staff, and consulting with our reopening committee, we feel the hybrid model will best address the health and safety of our students and staff given the current health data available.
Having fewer students in the building at a time will help reduce contact with others and allow for better distancing. The smaller groups will also allow teachers and staff more time to assess the academic progress and needs of our students. With fewer students in the building, we can better help them adjust to new expectations while fostering healthy routines throughout the day, such as regular hand washing. In these pandemic conditions, it is also imperative that we continue to improve our remote systems so that we can be ready to adapt if health data requires a shift to full remote learning again.
While we move forward planning to implement this hybrid model, we are also continuing to explore other options, such as offering remote-only options. More information regarding this will be available soon, though we do know that additional learning options will be determined by the capacity of our staff and our community’s needs.
We acknowledge the hardships that hybrid and full remote models may place on families, including our own faculty and staff. Although it will be a challenge, the overwhelming majority of families and staff surveyed preferred opening schools in a hybrid learning environment. By working together, openly communicating, and being creative and flexible, we can overcome these challenges together. That said, please understand there are many moving pieces to these plans, and we will need to adapt as the situation surrounding COVID-19 evolves and we receive further guidance from the AOE and the Department of Health.
Finally, in addition to academic work, I want to assure you that our teams will work tirelessly to support your child’s social and emotional needs through this transition. School is going to look and feel different this year, and we know all of our students will need support. We are here for your children and for your family.
We will send more communication in the coming days and weeks as we finalize plans, but in the meantime, I encourage you to continue to reach out and stay engaged.
Superintendent Tom Flanagan