October 14, 2021
Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,
This week, the central office began packing up some of our belongings for our much anticipated move over to 577 Dorset Street (the old City Hall). This will take time as various departments from HR to the Business Office gradually make the transition to our new, shared space. I am excited we will all be under the same roof for the first time ever! While I will miss popping out of my office in the middle school to see play practice in progress and students enjoying social time in the library, I’m thankful I’ll be just across the street from the high school and middle school. I’m looking forward to continuing building connections in our new space.
While there is always a lot happening in our District, the biggest event this week and weekend is SBHS Homecoming! Homecoming began this week on the 12th with spirit days Tuesday-Thursday and tomorrow will be Unitee Day when every SBHS student wears a student-designed t-shirt in addition to the pep rally which will occur outside on the turf field at the end of the day. Saturday is the Homecoming Dance as well as numerous athletic events throughout the day concluding with the varsity boys soccer game at 7:00 PM on Munson Field. You can find information about all of the games taking place on the SBWolves website.
Update on Surveillance Testing/Test to Stay
As many of you may know, the state recently unveiled a menu of COVID testing options that schools can choose to use. These are all optional. While we initially signed up to participate in surveillance testing and reached out to our community for support staffing this undertaking, we have decided to put this form of testing on pause and shift our energy toward the Test to Stay program. We hope that those who generously offered to assist us with surveillance testing, will be interested in shifting to this system (training required). We do not have a date or concrete details yet from the state on when we could begin implementing the test to stay program, but the idea is that it would help to decrease the number of days that students would have to quarantine should they be considered a close contact of a person with a positive test result. This could also reduce the amount of time and the impact of contact tracing on school personnel
We are not alone in our struggle to implement these testing programs; especially from a staff perspective. This Seven Days article highlights some of the challenges districts are facing in deciding whether and how to bring these methods on board.
If you would like more information on the testing methods proposed by the state, please click the link for the memo above or view this infographic. Each of these measures will require the permission of a parent or caregiver for the school to implement and a single consent form will cover all of these new testing options (separate from the surveillance testing form).
Two positive COVID cases were identified at the high school this week. Contact tracing is in progress and should be completed shortly. Thanks to all of you for continuing to follow universal precautions.
Executive Director of Equity Update
I wanted to give you an update on our work to hire an Executive Director of Equity for the District.
The District has hired Curtiss Reed Jr. to assist in the hiring process for this position. Curtiss is the Executive Director for Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity in Brattleboro. He also serves as the President of CRJ Consulting Group. Curtiss is a long time Vermonter who is devoted to advocacy related to inclusion, diversity, and equity in the public sphere. Last week, he did a walkthrough of all of our schools with me and he is examining our equity practices in the District including a review of our websites, our hiring practices and more. I will keep you updated as our work with Curtiss continues.
Board Appoints New School Board Member Laura Rowntree
In early September, school board member Rebecca Day tendered her resignation due to a move out of state. In order to comply with state statute, the board set to work filling the resulting vacancy within 30 days. The position was advertised through a number of channels and at their October 6 board meeting, four very well qualified candidates were interviewed. The board subsequently and unanimously appointed Laura Rowntree to the open seat on October 8. Laura will serve until March 1, 2022 when voters will choose someone to fill the remaining two years of the term. Laura will then have the opportunity to run for election for the remainder of the term if she so chooses. Laura is a SBSD parent and brings a wealth of experience to the board. Her professional career has included teaching English Language Arts at underserved high schools in the Bronx though NYC’s Teaching Fellows Program and she currently works as an assistant attorney general. Welcome Laura!
Next Board Meeting October 20
Join the board for their next regular meeting October 20 beginning at 7 pm. You can participate in person in the FHTMS library, via Zoom, or listen to the livestream on the Media Factory website and Facebook page. The agenda will be posted on the District website Friday afternoon. In addition, the South Burlington City Council and our school board will be holding their next Steering Committee meeting Wednesday, October 27 beginning at 6:30 PM and you can join virtually here.
Budget Season is Upon Us!
The SBSD School Board and district administration work on budgeting year-round, but the official "season" to develop the budget that will be presented to voters on Town Meeting Day in March begins in October. We invite all members of the SBSD community to join us and engage in the budget development process. There are many ways in which the larger community can get involved:
- Attend a board meeting either in person or virtually! Our budget development timeline will be presented at the October 20 board meeting. The agenda and link will be posted on the District website tomorrow afternoon.
- Join us for a virtual community budget forum, which like last year, will occur in place of in-person Citizens Budget Advisory Committee meetings. We will hold 2-3 forums during our budget work. We found that this method allows for broader community participation as opposed to the smaller groups of the past. Links will be posted in my newsletters and on our District website
- We'll be updating the budget page of our District website to share links, dates, and more in the weeks to come. We look forward to your participation!
SBHS: Get Caught up with the Latest Howling Herald
It’s here! The latest issue of the Howling Herald! Featuring perspectives and news on COVID, homecoming, a feature on SBHS Director of Guidance and Counseling Meghan Sweet and much more! Bravo student journalists!
In addition, SBHS student Lauren McCabe will be teaching a virtual water photography class tonight! at 6:30 pm through the Young Writers Project (sign up for the workshop here). Lauren will take participants through a series of water photo shoots ranging in difficulty from easy to challenging with household materials.
FHTMS: 6th grade Verve Visit Button Bay State Park: It’s a Tradition!
Dave Bailey has been taking 6th graders to Button Bay State Park since 1998 as part of an on-going Zebra Mussel Population study. This past week his group of students collected nearly 3000 mussels to take back to the classroom to measure and put into age groups. They graph the data and compare it to past trends in the mussel populations and make predictions about future populations. In addition to the mussel project, they study the ecology found at Button Bay and hike around the park visiting various habitats. Stay tuned for pictures coming to the District website!
Gertrude Chamberlin School Staff Participate in Walking Wednesdays
Fall walking, safe outdoor connections and camaraderie come together on walking Wednesdays at GCS! Chamberlin’s PBiS team, coordinated by Lisa Finlayson, came up with the idea during their retreat with their Universal and Targeted teams. Walking Wednesdays was launched toward the end of summer and all staff are welcome to meet at 3:20 pm by the school gardens for a post work stroll. The weather has been perfect for it!
Rick Marcotte Central School Teacher Feature
All of our schools have been getting creative in how they foster connections between families and staff in a safe way due to COVID and one way RMCS has been doing so is by having a new teacher feature in Principal Kilbourne’s weekly newsletter. The feature involves a quick Q and A to help families get to know new staff! Last week it was 4th grade teacher Kesia Cope. Fun fact? She has a bearded dragon named Spike!
Orchard School 4th Graders Participate in ReadAloud (and Hide Fun Notes in Library Books)
Recently, Orchard School 4th grade classes participated in a read aloud of Vermont author Ann Braden’s book The Flight of the Puffin . Each student created several cards with inspirational phrases on them to secretly distribute and hide in a library book. There will surely be lots of smiles during book checkouts next week! Check out photos of this AND the amazing annual Orchard School Fun Run that was held October 8 on Orchard's Instagram.
It’s getting to be peak foliage time here in Vermont! This resource offers some great ideas for scenic drives, foliage maps, and of course places to stop for apple and pumpkin picking, to be enjoyed alongside some warm cider donuts of course.
Thanks for reading,