May 15, 2020
Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff, and Community Members,
I’m sending my gratitude to all of you this Friday. As we collectively adjust and lean into the challenges of this uncertain, COVID-19 world, I am heartened by all of your efforts to support one another while physically distancing. Focusing on the opportunities this situation has spurred while recognizing how differently we are all experiencing this moment is so important. Thank you for your dedication, your patience, and your resilience. Please see my latest updates below.
Notes of Appreciation
I wanted to take a moment to recognize some of the amazing things that happened in our District over the past couple of weeks. Chamberlin School held their first remote Buzz Assembly May 12 that was enjoyed by students and staff alike. The Rick Marcotte Central School teacher parade took place May 14. Teachers and staff drove the bus routes in their individual cars with festive signs. Even the school mascot Marky Moose jumped into one of the vehicles! I’m certain our students, past and present, loved seeing their teachers. At SBHS, some talented musicians were named All State and All New England. See this slideshow created by Mrs.Toner that recognizes their accomplishments. In addition, Orchard School continues connecting to their students in a variety of ways including remote morning meetings where recently, Principal Mark Trifilio popped in to do a read aloud of an old favorite, “Trouble with Trolls.” Thanks to you all.
Continuity of Learning
Throughout the COVID-19 Crisis our staff have been working hard to stay connected with families and engage students through remote learning. We would like to hear from you about how things are going for your family. Thank you for taking a few minutes to complete the survey that follows. We will carefully review your responses and comments in order to better serve our school community. This survey will close on Monday, May 25th.
Please note - If you have more than one child attending South Burlington schools, please complete this survey multiple times--once for each child, taking care to mark the correct grade and school each time.
Link to the survey here: https://bit.ly/2zCQPky
Voting on the revised proposed FY21 budget is on track to occur May 28. Please see the latest information in a note from City Clerk Donna Kinville here. Even though our regular polling locations are planning to be open with safety protocols in place, we are strongly encouraging absentee ballots be requested through the My Voter page on the Vermont Secretary of State’s website. You can find more information about the revised proposed FY21 budget here, and please join us via Zoom May 20 at 7 pm for the School Board’s public hearing on the revised proposed FY21 budget.
Equity: Furthering our Collective Learning
Thoughtful resources allow all of us to deepen our understanding of equity during a time of COVID-19. This Equity Lens Tool from the Vermont Agency of Education helps center “educational equity [so] that every student has access to the resources, opportunities and educational rigor they need at the right moment in their education” (VT AOE). This resource sheet from the Fred Rogers Center reminds us that “as reports continue to grow, it is important that children know that no one person, or group of people, is responsible for people being sick” with coronavirus. Inequity and bias impact the well-being of those in our school community, and we will continue to address them as we continue to work toward equity in our district.
Teacher Contract Status Update
26 teachers will receive Reduction in Force (RIF) notices this week informing them that if the community is unable to pass a budget going into the FY 2021 school year, we will be required to spend not more than the 2020 funding level (level funding) and will be eliminating their position. The contract between the teachers and school board requires the superintendent to notify teachers.
Some of the 26 teachers receiving RIF notices mentioned above have contractual rights to positions held by less senior teachers and can displace them if they choose. As a result,15 additional teachers will not receive a contract on May 15th.
Also, within the level-funding reduction list, if we are unable to pass a budget prior to the start of the FY 2021 school year, we will also need to eliminate 178 positions that support our co-curricular programming that is distributed across sports and activities at the middle and high school levels.
Updates from the Governor
Due to Vermonters continued vigilance and adherence to Governor Scott’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order in addition to taking precautions such as physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and mask wearing, Vermont continues to make progress in flattening the COVID-19 curve. The Governor began easing some social restrictions (see release here) last week, allowing for small (10 or fewer) gatherings of individuals to occur. At the Governor’s May 15 press conference, while he extended the state of emergency to June 15, he slightly relaxed the “Stay Home” order, to “Be Smart, Be Safe” guidance that encourages limiting one’s travel and social contacts to facilitate ease of contact tracing. Despite these encouraging trends, we need to stay the course (As a gentle reminder, guidelines for safety from the Vermont Department of Health can be found here).
Close of Year Activities/Celebrations
I, along with our administrative team, have been involved in options planning, particularly around graduation and will report out on these decisions as soon as they have been solidified. I am sure you are also wondering about the next school year and plans for 2020-21. As you can imagine, there are many variables to consider and we will do our best to communicate the next steps as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.
Childcare for Essential Workers ends May 29th when the state funding ends. We will cease childcare for two weeks and re-open camp programs June 15 with numerous changes implemented given the current circumstances. School’s Out will operate summer camps at Chamberlin, Orchard, and Rick Marcotte Central School Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., June 15-August 6. The primary function of these camps will be to provide childcare for parents/guardians who need to travel outside of their homes to work. Details of the camp offerings can be found here. Registration for families who have yet to enroll will open at noon May 18 here. Please note that there are capacity restrictions at each location and submission of the registration form does not guarantee enrollment.
I continue to be inspired and humbled by all of you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions, thoughts, or concerns. We miss you.