• January 22, 2021

    Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,

    Thank you all for another wonderful week. With COVID cases popping up at several of our schools, I once again have been so impressed with how nimbly our families, students, and staff shifted to remote learning where necessary. During these times, it can be easy to become overwhelmed, therefore I wanted to take note of the many positive initiatives happening in our school community, not the least of which was a Red Cross blood drive initiated by SBHS/VTVLC student Bridget O’Keefe held today at the University Mall. From National Mentoring Month to a virtual coffee house, see more updates on how our community is staying connected below. I am grateful for the continued resilience of you all. 

    Calendar Changes

    I wanted to let families know that we will be in school March 3,4, and 5. Elementary grades PreK-5 will be in on all three days. At the middle and high school, the 3rd will be a blue pack day and the 4th and 5th will be gray pack days. Half days for parent/teacher conferences will occur April 1 and 2. Elementary grades will be dismissed at 11:30 am and middle and high school grades will be dismissed at 12:30 pm. 

    COVID Protocols: A Reminder

    COVID cases have been increasing statewide, therefore,  please remember that we all have a role to play in keeping one another safe. In accordance with the Governor’s mandate, all Vermont residents have been advised to not spend time with anyone who lives outside their family unit’s home, apart from children in shared custody situations (which may involve a child traveling between two homes) and single adults living alone. Those who do not follow that mandate are required to quarantine for 14 days (or seven days followed by a negative COVID test result). For more details, please see this link on the health department’s FAQ site. You can also learn more about what happens when there is a case in a school at this link. 

    The most important things you can do: 

    • Make sure you/your child is wearing a mask
    • Make sure you/your child is washing their hands.
    • Stay home if you are sick and keep your child home if they are sick.
    • Call your primary care provider if you/ your child has symptoms of COVID-19

    COVID-19 Surveillance Testing

    The South Burlington School District participated in our third round of COVID-19 surveillance testing January 19. We had 287 staff members participate in this round of voluntary testing. During Phase 1, we had 270 participants and for Phase 2, 298 staff members took the PCR tests. Thanks to all who took part in this important data gathering. You can read more about school staff surveillance testing here

    FY22 Budget Approved by the School Board

    At a special school board meeting held January 16, the board unanimously approved the administration recommended budget. The budget represents a 5.88 percent increase in expenditures over the FY21 approved budget and a 4.31 percent increase in net education spending and a -4.15% Tax Rate Reduction. The board also approved the articles to be included on the ballot including a $2.5 million bond to fund needed repairs to facilities, primarily a new roof at FHTMS. 

    You can review the budget slide presentation as well as the annual warning on the budget section of the District website. Please note that this year, due to COVID restrictions, there will not be an in-person pre-town meeting day budget presentation, but rather a virtual meeting via Zoom on March 1 at 7:00 pm. Channel 17 will also be hosting virtual budget presentations and candidate forums once again this year. More details to follow. If you have questions about the budget or articles, please feel free to contact  school board members or myself. 

    Ballots and Voting

    This year, ballots will be mailed to all registered voters. According to City Clerk Donna Kinville, they should be in the mail February 10 and hopefully in people's mailboxes around the 12. There will be return postage affixed to the envelopes. The ballots can be brought to the polls, left in the City Hall night drop box before midnight March 1 or received in the mail no later than 4:00 March 2. Residents can also vote in person at all regular polling locations from 7:00 am-7:00 pm Town Meeting Day March 2.

    Run for the School Board: Deadline for Consent Forms Jan. 25 at 5 pm

    There will be two seats opening up on the school board this March! One for a two year term and the other for a three year term. Candidates must submit their consent form to the clerk’s office prior to 5:00 pm January 25th. Consent forms can be left in the drop box outside the main door to City Hall or emailed to dkinville@sburl.com. The consent form can be found on the City website. Curious to know what it’s like to serve on the board? Feel free to contact a member of the school board.

    SB Celebrates National Mentoring Month

    Mentors are more important than ever during these times, but given restrictions on gathering with those outside of one’s household, SB Mentoring has been getting creative. Our wonderful Assistant Mentoring Coordinator Becky Fontana reports that this year, mentors have been reaching out weekly to their student leaders in various ways:  email, snail mail, texts, video messages, shared craft activities, and word puzzles to name a few. 

    Fontana noted that this month, in honor of National Mentoring Month, SB Mentoring used some of its grant funding to purchase SB Mentoring Logo masks for all the mentors and student leaders in the program. These masks will be delivered to mentoring community members with a certificate of gratitude for all that they do to support SB Mentoring. Fontana wrote, “Our program is so grateful to our wonderful South Burlington teachers and staff members and our SB Mentoring families for supporting this effort by helping these messages reach our students.”  

    School Happenings

    SBHS Hosts Webinars and Big Picture Coffee House Tonight! 

    SBHS students and families had a chance to join school leaders on Zoom for a mid-year “check in” this week. The evenings included brief presentations and time for questions and answers. In addition, tonight, Elsa Althoff and Jim Shields of the Big Picture program have organized a Winter Virtual Coffee House at 7pm! Coffee Houses are fun events where students (and staff) performers login and perform for an online audience. Last spring, two Coffee House events occurred and they were huge successes!

    Tuttle Middle School SEL Learning

    A little throwback to pre-winter break. Students in Amy Racicot’s 6th grade class did a social emotional learning (SEL) activity making gingerbread houses out of cardboard and decorating them with candy. Yum! What a great activity to do at home as well during these snowy days.

    Gertrude Chamberlin School: Mystery Science in 2nd Grade

    Chamberlin School second graders have been getting outside to learn about conduction and insulation. In addition, teacher Renae Preska reports that students have been enjoying STEM projects with mystery science focusing on the properties of matter. One involved making a hat that would protect people from the elements if they were stranded on a desert island and the other involved what materials best insulate or protect from the heat.

    Rick Marcotte Central School Students Study Energy!

    Students in 4th grade classes at Central School have been learning that energy cannot be created or destroyed but is instead transferred, according to teacher Nicholle Eddy. “Students were able to create chain reactions to have hands-on experience with energy transfer. In addition to energy transfer, students learned that energy travels in waves. We created models of energy waves using candy and students were able to learn the different components of waves such as amplitude and wavelength,” Eddy wrote.

    Orchard School One Word Portraits 

    Orchard School second graders chose one word to reflect a goal they would like to focus on in 2021. The portraits were created by all three second grade classes taught by Katelyn Goodrich, Nicole Bauman, and Kerby Fischer. Check out some of the portraits on Orchard School’s Instagram.

    Have a wonderful and safe weekend!

    Thank You,

    David