North Avenue News – June Superintendent’s Message

Dear Burlington Community,

As I prepare to leave Burlington School District at the end of this month, I want to pause and say thank you for all of your support of our students over the last nine years as I was Superintendent. It has been an incredible nine years and we have accomplished so much together! I learned in this time of the deep commitment our community has toward the success of all of our students, and how welcoming you are of all cultures and families.

I have learned so much from each and every person I have encountered in our great school system, from the Director of Food Services and his staff about farm to school and the importance of local foods; from the administrators, teachers and support staff who go the extra mile to help a student in need; from the community members who step up and participate on task forces, committees, and attend school events supporting our kids. Most of all, I have learned from our incredible students, who come to school to learn but just as frequently teach us lessons that we, as educators and parents, need to remember.

I thank the Burlington parents, who put their faith and trust in us every day. Our parents cross all backgrounds and have pushed hard to provide a truly enriching and equitable educational experience that will help deliver their children to a bright future. I recognize this is always a work in process, and I hope that my successor will embrace the core values and take the foundation I have tried to build and run with it.

I also thank the community – municipal, business, and community leaders – who partner with the schools. I invite you to continue to partner in as many ways as possible. One of the most important things we can do for kids is to create bridges between what they are learning in school and what the real world has to offer. Our students, with the help of our partners, have taken on federal testing issues, identified signage needs here in Burlington, participated on youth councils, and have stepped up with a voice to solve a number of community issues.

As I look back on my near decade of service, I feel gratified about what we have accomplished together. We have created a high-quality school district known for our innovation with the magnet schools and our elementary, middle, and high school transformation toward 21st Century learning; known for our commitment to equity, with our diversity and equity plan and socio-economic integration; known for our international learning environment with cultures from over 30 countries in our schools; and known for our invaluable partnerships, signaling high community investment in our schools. We have invested in our school infrastructure as well, with renovations of C.P. Smith, J.J. Flynn, Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes, and with the addition of an elevator at the Edmunds Complex. I am proud to be part of these accomplishments. While I may have been the conductor of the orchestra, without all of the many players working together in harmony, there is no music. You created the music and for that I am deeply grateful.

Today, our society is at a crossroads. Our schools were built for an earlier era and there is much we must do to bring our educational delivery system “up to code” for the times so that all of our children are ready for the demands of a rapidly changing world. I have tried my best to begin that “remodeling” process, and think we have made some very good progress. So many of you have been involved with the neighborhood learning conversations about improving learning in our schools, and with the Partnership for Change sponsored opportunities to have a voice in that change. BHS is at the cutting edge of a new way of learning, one that is focused on student interests, increased challenge, and connects students with the real world much earlier in their school career. The addition of technology at the middle and high school settings is allowing students to go deeper in their learning and be more involved in the purpose and outcomes. Stay tuned, we have only just begun and we want you there with us as we continue to improve.

Now it is up to my successor, in concert with all of you, to take the next steps forward.

Please know that as I move on, I will always follow Burlington’s progress closely. I wish all of you much success and look forward to hearing about your continued accomplishments. I believe in my heart that, because of all of you, this world-class City is making great strides toward creating a world-class 21st Century educational system. I deeply thank you for giving me the opportunity to be the conductor for the past nine years.

Spotlight – Superintendent’s Column (5/28/14)

Greetings All,

Your input is requested!

Climate Survey:

We are currently in the process of surveying students, parents, and staff on their views on critical issues such as discrimination, staff respectfulness, and student safety during school activities in order to measure our success and strive for improvement in these areas. Visit www.bsdvt.org through June 2nd to participate in this online Equity, Inclusion, and Respect Survey. If you have already completed the survey (thank you!) and have additional comments to submit, please do so by selecting the “Equity, Inclusion, and Respect Survey: Additional Feedback” topic, located on the Let’s Talk! page, also accessible via www.bsdvt.org.

Superintendent and Finance Director Search: 

We also invite you to submit comments via the Let’s Talk! page about the upcoming searches for both the Superintendent and Finance Director positions for the District, or to comment/provide general feedback to the District as we work to improve the school environment for all students and families. These comments will be compiled and presented to the Administration and School Board as we work in the next month to fill these positions and transition into new leadership.

June 3rd Budget Vote: Early Voting is Open 

If you are a Burlington resident, you can vote at City Hall until June 3rd and at a polling place on June 3rd. If you would like to know what would be cut if the proposed budget were rejected, please look at the document on BoardDocs for the May 21st Board Special Meeting Agenda.

Regardless of whether you like the reductions, the Board and Administration have worked hard to save teaching positions, though we did lose several support positions. The Default Budget does have more serious consequences; it is for you to decide if So if you live in Burlington, please take a moment, go into City Hall, and vote however your heart leads you; in the best interest of our children, and after you review all of the facts.

Thank you.

Jeanné

A Tribute to Dr. Maya Angelou

A sad day has come. An icon has left our midst. She has left much behind her for us to continue to celebrate. This time of year, when everything seems chaotic, there is something in her work that helps us to feel a bit more grounded and reassured.

Maya Angelou’s poem, “On the Pulse of the Morning”, read at President Clinton’s inaugural of 1993, speaks directly to diversity and equity and change over time. This poem is just one of the great contributions and “reminders” Dr. Angelou has given us in her life.

An excerpt:

…There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African, the Native American, the Sioux
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek,

The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheik,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree…

The full poem can be found at: http://onthepulseofmorning.wikispaces.com/On+the+Pulse+of+Morning.

Dr. Da Verne Bell shared with the following adaptation of the poem “We Speak Your Names” by Pearl Cleage, presented at the 2005 Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball, where Dr. Angelou and other African American Women Greats were honored:

We celebrate your freedom. We celebrate your wisdom. We celebrate your strength.
We celebrate your magic….We celebrate your genius….you nurtured us and taught us to make a difference…to be kind….to be BETTER… TRUER… DEEPER…
you showed us strength…discipline…talent
and nerve…and to smile…. not only in the light
times…but also in the dark times.

You walked proudly. You made us all…walk
taller… smile wider…dream bigger.

WE CELEBRATE YOUR PASSION.

We speak your name…. “Maya Angelou”

You change the world around you with such fierce
determination…your effortless smile…your unshakeable grace….You truly were a beckon….a light…teaching us all……We really want… and need… to thank you for
being with all of us…WHENEVER and WHERE-EVER we find
ourselves standing alone in the light……
we will remember the lessons you shared…by
living YOUR life with such integrity and
honor…by you…yourself…always striving and
becoming

BETTER…TRUER…DEEPER.

We speak your name…”Maya Angelou”

We celebrate your freedom.
We celebrate your wisdom.
We celebrate your magic.
We celebrate your courage.
We celebrate your spirit.
We celebrate your genius.
We…celebrate….YOUR LOVING KINDNESS.

WE WILL FOREVER REMEMBER THE LESSONS YOU TAUGHT US…AND LOVE YOU GAVE US,

I……….We “YOUR LIVING LEGACY”…SPEAK YOUR NAME…MAYA ANGELOU!!

 

 

Spotlight – Superintendent’s Column

Greetings All, 

As a District, we believe in celebrating diversity and providing equitable, welcoming environments for every staff member. To measure our success and strive for improvement, we are launching an Equity, Inclusion, and Respect Staff Survey, beginning tomorrow and running until May 29th. You will receive an email to participate via your bsdvt.org account. 

Designed by independent technology and communications firm K12 Insight, the survey seeks your views on critical issues such as discrimination and staff respectfulness. While addressing these topics can be difficult, it is essential to helping all of us reach our highest professional potential.

Separate Equity, Inclusion, and Respect Student and Parent Surveys will be conducted at school and online. Please be assured that all feedback is confidential, with responses anonymous to Burlington School District staff. Once the surveys are complete, the results will be shared with you.

Thank you in advance for your participation, which will guide the District’s work to end disrespect, stereotyping, and discrimination in our buildings. We value your opinions and commitment to drawing great strength from our differences.

Jeanné

 

North Avenue News – May Superintendent’s Message

*FY2015 Budget Process Update

The Burlington School Board has spent much of March and April reviewing numbers in the budget and determining a new budget amount to bring to the voters. It is anticipated at the time of writing this article that a new budget will come for a vote on June 3. Please stay tuned at www.bsdvt.org for more information on the budget and its implications. 

*Free 2014 Summer Camp Fair – Tuesday, May 6th, Sustainability Academy, 5 – 7 p.m.

Join representatives from local organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington, Sara Holbrook Community Center, the YMCA, King Street Center, Burlington School District Summer School and Burlington Parks and Recreation for detailed information for parents and kids about upcoming summer programs.

Child Care Resource and interpreters will be available to help answer any questions. Refreshments, snacks and youth activities including face painting and kids games will be provided.

Come learn about these exciting summer programs and register your student on the spot!

*Pockets of Innovation in Burlington Schools – Partnership for Change

In our second year supporting Burlington and Winooski Schools to remodel the education system, the Partnership for Change is helping teachers pilot new, student-centered approaches to teaching and learning. The research, conversations and shared learning that occurred during our first year have informed these pockets of innovation.

One example is the work being done by a group of Burlington and Winooski teachers to pilot student-led conferences this spring. This new approach to traditional parent-teacher conferences will offer students a greater voice in the learning process and support families as partners in their children’s education.

Using technology to personalize learning for all students is another important lever in the school change process. Last month, Burlington High School faculty and technology specialists shared how 1:1 technology is shifting teaching and learning in our local schools at a Statewide conference in Lake Morey.

This spring, 50 BHS physics students are engaged in solving a real problem in our community. Based on the science and economics of energy use, they are finding ways for Burlington homeowners and landlords to increase energy efficiency. The next step is to partner with community businesses and organizations to design a prototype that can reach all Burlington residents.

To learn more about these and other pockets of innovation in our schools, visit http://partnershipvt.org.

*BSD Ranked #6 on Daily Meal’s 10 Best School Lunches in America

In the past decade, enormous changes have been made nationwide in the ways learning institutions feed our offspring. Initiatives have been undertaken where schools have students manage organic gardens on premises and take field trips to local farms to learn where their lunch originates and how it grows. Budgets have been utilized more thoughtfully and efficiently, investing in these same farms to supply students with the freshest ingredients and an abundance of healthy choices, and in other creative, culinary-geared ways.

To view the full article and Top 10 slideshow, visit:

http://www.thedailymeal.com/10-best-school-lunches-america/32614.

As always, I welcome comments, suggestions, and observations. Contact me at superintendent@bsdvt.org or call 802.864.8474. Also, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @BTVSchools to keep up with all that is happening in the Burlington Schools!

Spotlight – Superintendent’s Column

Greetings All,

Spring is nearly here, with warmer temps and no snow in the forecast! Enjoy it – mud season promises to end soon.

I wish to acknowledge all of the chaos surrounding us each day since the budget was defeated. It is hard to know where we are landing with RIFs and potential bumps. I am so very sorry for that. It is hard enough to do our jobs each day without the uncertainty hanging over next year.

The good news is that the Board has settled on a budget amount and related cuts, posted on the April 24th Board Special Meeting Agenda on BoardDocs:

 http://www.boarddocs.com/vt/bsdvt/Board.nsf/Public.

Unfortunately, if the budget goes down, we need to cut another $800K and thus cannot remove all RIFs not directly affected just yet. The best one can do is stay involved and help get the word out about the impact of the budget decisions.

The other issue we are facing of course is the newly identified potential $2.5M deficit. Ironically, the fact that we are discussing this now is good news, although the timing is bad. The reality is that we have been putting systems in place over the last two to three years as we became aware that with changes in the Business Office, our data was not fully accessible or solid. The new expertise and new system (Munis) have been underway for 18-24 months and we are now at a point where we CAN identify a potential deficit mid-year, instead of the fall after the budget ends.

The next step is to have the data accessible to be able to monitor spending much more closely, which the new system also provides and we will have going forward. We are on our way; but the political winds swirling around us are giving messages that the problem is newly discovered and needs new action. We are working through this and I know we will come out in better financial conditions than we have had in the past.

Overall message – enjoy the last weeks of spring, keep in tune with the budget work at hand, and hang in there. I wish you all the best.

Jeanné