June 1st, 2020
Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff, and Community Members,
We have had a stretch of sunny days and I hope you all have had the chance to enjoy the weather. It’s hard to believe we are rounding the corner toward the end of this school year. June is always a time filled with milestones, from our high school and middle school graduation/celebration to our 5th graders transitioning to FHTMS (see more on this below). While these moments will look different this year due to physical distancing, they remain as important as ever.Thank you to the many staff members, students, and families who are helping with creative plans for these and many other celebrations.
The re-vote on the FY21 revised proposed budget occurred May 28. Unfortunately, it did not pass (see complete election results here). Next steps include a budget discussion with the school board at their regularly scheduled meeting June 3. There could be an option to bring another version of the budget to voters in late June.The current revised budget that went before the voters yesterday included cuts to security personnel, an alumni development coordinator, the transportation department, and minimal pay increases for non-union staff (to name a few). However, a further reduced budget could include more cuts to personnel that would directly impact student learning via increased class sizes and decreased program offerings. More information to follow. The June 3 board meeting will be accessible live via RETN and Zoom. Check the district’s homepage for the Zoom link.
Continuity of Learning
The COVID-19 Crisis has forced schools to radically change the way we work and required teachers to find new ways to engage students through remote learning, despite some considerable challenges. Throughout the period of school closure, our schools have worked to implement strategies that are in accordance with the Vermont Agency of Education’s (AOE) recommendations for the four design pillars of Continuity of Learning in Vermont: Communication, Structures for Student Success, Instruction and Feedback, and Ensuring Accessibility.
Grading & Reporting
Without statewide and district common assessments this spring and given the challenges of collecting and grading student work remotely, we have modified our elementary and middle grades report cards. In line with the AOE guidance of April 9, 2020, Assessment in a Remote Learning Environment: Recommended Practices, we have emphasized the following guiding principles in reporting:
Communication with Families: Our K-8 report cards begin with a narrative section where your child’s teachers can speak to your child as an individual and unique learner.
Growth-Oriented Feedback: While not providing traditional grades or scoring individual proficiencies, K-8 teachers will report to parents each child’s key strengths and needs as we look ahead to next year.
Flexibility & Forbearance: Given the challenging circumstances many families now face, it is important to hold harmless students from the standpoint of grading; our K-12 grading practices will reflect flexibility and ensure that grades are not punitive in any way given the extraordinary circumstances families find themselves in.
Transferable Skills: Since learning has necessarily looked different this spring, transferable skills (i.e., Self-Direction, Problem Solving, Communication, Citizenship, Informed & Integrative Thinking) are more important than ever. This spring marks the first time that all K-12 teachers will provide feedback on these skills, either as a proficiency score (9-12) or by narrative (K-8).
While our school buildings have been closed, we have maintained daily attendance and followed the following AOE guidance on attendance: “Students who make some form of contact with their classroom teacher or other instructional staff in a day [will] be counted as present for that day.” Contact includes, but is not limited to, participation in a video-conference (e.g., Zoom) or other “live” learning activity online; submission of academic work; a Google/NEO posting; or an email, phone, or text message from parent/guardian or student indicating engagement in learning. In light of this broad definition for attendance during the period of remote learning, report cards will not exhibit student totals for days tardy or absent this spring.
Notes of Appreciation
Our students and staff continue to go above and beyond in maintaining their connections to one another. At Chamberlin School, activities have included another remote episode of The Buzz on May 26 as well as a carnation drop-off to 5th graders. Photos of students holding their flowers will be used as part of the traditional Goodbye Assembly, which will be recorded and shared for the Chamberlin community to enjoy together on a day in June.
Orchard School has been working on memory books to capture special moments from the 2019-2020 school year. Similar to yearbooks, memory books commemorate the school year with pages for each class and photos of school events (including this spring’s adventures in remote learning). Memory books will likely be sent out over the summer.
Rick Marcotte Central School students have been making music at home during this time of remote learning, and their work has been shared by grade level. Thanks to music teacher Erika Rito for showcasing our talented and dedicated musicians on the site above.
On Monday, June 8, at 1:00 pm, FHTMS staff will visit neighborhoods in a series of parades to acknowledge students and send them best wishes for the summer. Further details will be shared in a separate family communication from Principal Karsten Schlenter.
At SBHS, Assistant Principal Lissa McDonald and Career Development Center Coordinator Christine Lundie have been working with others to prepare for the annual Academic Awards “Night.” This year, the event will be “held” on social media. Recognitions will be posted on @SBHSVT Instagram and @pburkevt Twitter beginning next week. All award recipients will also be listed in The Other Paper.
Honoring Lenny Roberge
Mr. Lenny Roberge, friend to the South Burlington School District, will turn 106 years old in early June. We invite all in our school and greater community to submit a brief birthday message to Mr. Roberge here. (We are hoping to gather 106 birthday messages. The link will be open until Friday, June 5, 2020). As Vermont’s oldest living World War II veteran and a South Burlington resident, Mr. Roberge has attended the Veteran’s Day Assembly held at South Burlington High School for years, where he loves interacting with students. Additionally, he was part of Big Picture’s “Honoring Veterans” project for Veterans Memorial Park. Thank you for helping us say “Happy Birthday” to Lenny.
In case you missed it last week, the administrative team has engaged in thoughtful planning on how best to safely and equitably honor our SBHS seniors. Principal Patrick Burke informed the senior class today that the graduation ceremony will take place at the Champlain Valley Exposition Fairgrounds in Essex in partnership with Action Sound, Higher Ground, and the Expo. CVU, Essex High School, and SBHS will all have separate ceremonies at the facility on June 12 or 13. A large screen and stage will be set up to allow for up to 500 cars to be assembled (6’ apart) so everyone can see the screen. (To maintain safety guidelines, students will not get out of cars to receive their diplomas.) We are excited that all students will be able to be present. The event will be live-streamed for friends and families who cannot make it.
Face Mask Resources
While I continue to be proud of the progress Vermont has made in flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases statewide, I wanted to offer a resource for accessing masks or making one yourself. We all have a role to play in protecting one another.
I hope you each had a restful weekend.