January 8, 2021
Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,
Happy New Year! I hope you all had the opportunity over the early winter break to rest and recharge. As we complete our first week back to school and work, I wanted to take a moment to update you on several items including the decision to raise the Black Lives Matter Flag at all of our schools, an upcoming meeting on the FY22 budget, and school sports. Also, in case you missed it, I wanted to share the note that Secretary of Education Dan French released December 22 expressing his appreciation for school staff. I too, have so much gratitude for our students, families, and staff as we embark on this hopeful new year together.
Recent Events in Washington DC
I am deeply saddened by the events that occurred at our nation’s Capitol this week, a place designed to be open for the people of this nation to see democracy in action. As an educator and lifelong learner there are events that occur in our community, US, and world that allow for important teachable learning opportunities. Vermont’s Governor Phil Scott released an Official Statement, I sent a communication to families and staff yesterday as did the principals at each of our schools.
We know that, in our district, we have astute learners who will have questions about why and how this could happen. That is why an administrative meeting was held yesterday where we discussed how best to support our students and staff during this time. I know our educators are prepared to have these important conversations with students as the opportunity and need arises. The middle and elementary schools are working to coordinate any supports needed. Staff had an optional Zoom call yesterday for those seeking a safe space to have conversations around and express their thoughts on the events that occurred. Please reach out to your building principal or supervisor if you have further questions or concerns.
Black Lives Matter Flag Raising
At the January 6 school board meeting, after hearing from inspiring middle school students and the public, the school board voted unanimously to raise the Black Lives Matter flag year-round at all of our District schools. Given that the high school has raised the BLM flag every February since 2018, they chose to raise it January 7. The date and events surrounding the flag raising at the middle and elementary schools is yet to be determined, but will be well publicized when the plans have been solidified. I am so proud of our courageous students. While our work in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion is ongoing, this is one way of indicating the District’s support of and solidarity with our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students, staff, and community. You can read the press release and view materials related to this decision (as well as the history of the BLM flag raising at SBHS) on our District website.
Reminder About Testing After Multi Household Gatherings
From December 23-January 2, Governor Scott made a temporary modification to the multi household gathering guidance which allowed for one household to gather with one other trusted household. This is a reminder that If you did choose to gather with one other household, it is strongly recommended that everyone who participated be tested seven days after such a gathering. If a Vermont household gathered with a trusted household from outside of Vermont, all participants from both households must quarantine for seven days followed by a negative test or a 14-day quarantine after the gathering. Thank you for helping to keep us all safe and healthy!
School Sports Practices Resume
Due to updated guidance on winter sports programs released by the state December 22, as of January 4, SBHS school based teams began practices with individual skills and strength and conditioning drills. No contact, masking, and physical distancing are required per the guidance. Look for more information from individual coaches. As a reminder, the deadline for signing up for school sports is January 10. Check out the South Burlington Wolves website for the latest. Also look for information coming soon on the performing arts!
The school board held their final community forum on the FY22 budget January 5, but will have a meeting dedicated entirely to the proposed FY22 budget January 13. Please join us to hear the latest budget information and bring your questions and comments. We want to hear from you! If you can’t make it during this time, the presentation materials will be posted to the District website after the meeting.
Seeking a Minutes Taker
We are looking for someone to do the minutes for the regular school board meetings and I wanted to reach out to you all to see if anyone would be interested. Meetings are held two Wednesdays per month beginning at 7:00 pm via Zoom. Minutes would need to be e-mailed to Delina Gilroy in a specific format (template provided) by 4:00 pm the Friday after the meeting. This is a paid position with a time commitment of roughly 7-9 hours per month. We are looking for someone to fill this role as soon as possible. If you're interested or know of someone in our community who would be, please be in touch with myself and Corey Burdick.
Town Meeting Day and Running for the Board
There will be two seats opening up on the school board this March! One is a two year term and the other a three term. Curious to know what it’s like to serve on the board? Feel free to contact a member of the school board. Town Meeting Day will be Tuesday, March 2, 2021 and due to the pandemic, the legislature passed a bill which eliminates the need for petitions to be filed in 2021. Instead, candidates must only submit their consent form to the clerk’s office prior to 5:00 pm January 25th. Although City Hall is closed, they are accepting consent forms by mail, left in their drop box outside the main door to City Hall or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The consent form can be found here.
Nutritional services does it again! This unstoppable team prepared and delivered 8,500 meals (4,250 breakfast and 4,250 lunch) during the 2-week winter break. Director Rhonda Ketner said, “We are very grateful for the transportation department. We wouldn't be able to reach as many people without them.” Well done!
SBHS Works on Making an Ice Rink
Have you noticed the ice rink in development at the high school? While it’s too early to know if the rink will be operational, as is the intent, the high school is currently working on signage to indicate whether the rink is open or closed. Should all continue as planned, the rink will be used for Physical Education (6-12 and possibly PreK-12), SBHS Figure Skating Club, Boys and Girls Hockey.
Tuttle Middle School Students Inspire
At the January 6 school board meeting, four members of SOAR (Students Organizing Against Racism) Yorda Gebreselasie, Abby Bunting, Julia Todd, and Shayla Smith shared their thoughts and perspectives as well as those of fellow SOAR members during a presentation on raising the Black Lives Matter Flag at all of the District’s schools. I was incredibly inspired and impressed by their courage.
Gertrude Chamberlin School holds a “live” Buzz Assembly
Right before the break, Chamberlin School had a "live" whole school Buzz Assembly with Mrs. Farrell and Mrs. Brown on Zoom one morning. Chamberlain’s three 5th grade classes were featured as teams and they played an online version of Wheel of Fortune to solve winter themed puzzles. All classes were on the Zoom.
Rick Marcotte Central School Students Think About Resolutions
At Central School, 5th graders welcomed the New Year with thoughts of resolutions. They chose goal words, created action steps, and then made bracelets and necklaces to help keep their goals close.
Orchard School Students Vote on Red Clover Book Award
At Orchard School, a total of 243 students in grades K-3 have read all 10 of the state's Red Clover Award books and have voted for their favorite. The total number of votes for each of the ten wonderful Red Clover Award nominees will be sent to the Vermont Department of Libraries to be counted toward Vermont's favorite picture book for 2020-2021. All votes from around the state must be turned in by the end of April. We'll anxiously wait to find out if other students from around the state agree with Orchard’s choice!
It has been great having everyone back to school. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend!