• February 3, 2022

    Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,

    I hope this note finds you well and perhaps eagerly anticipating our first true snowstorm of this winter. The forecast looks as though we will receive the heaviest snow beginning this evening and into Friday. Therefore, I decided to cancel all after-school events as well as school tomorrow, February 4. Enjoy the snow (and reading my updates, of course!).

    Dates of Note:

    February 9: Kevin Downey and Nikki St. Mary are going to host a Zoom meeting from 6-6:30 pm (Meeting ID: 848 6022 8291 Passcode: yGMp1h) for parents/guardians about SB Explore flexible pathways. They will give an overview of offerings like Big Picture, Project Lab, Service Thesis Project, internships, and more with several students on the call to share their experiences.

    February 9: City Council candidate forums at 5:30 (3 yr seat) and 6:15 (2 yr seat) on Channel 17

    COVID Updates

    According to the latest state data, it appears as though we are seeing a hopeful downward trend in COVID19 cases. Our-in school transmission data  reflects this as well. Test-to-Stay, the program whereby unvaccinated close contacts received rapid antigen testing at our 577 Dorset Street location in order to stay in school if negative, ended yesterday. I know some may have thought I held onto this program a little longer than they would have liked, but until we began receiving a solid supply of antigen tests for students, I felt it was necessary and certainly served its purpose of keeping as many students learning in person as possible.

    Last Friday, we began distributing rapid antigen take home tests to every student in grades PreK-12 along with directions regarding when to use them. This is part of our shift in protocol from test-to-stay to test-at-home. Our hope is to continue to provide families with these tests as supply allows. If you have questions regarding these tests, please contact your student(s) school directly. Currently, we do not have enough supply to offer them to staff (although our hope is that we will be able to at some point in the near future). Therefore, next week, we will continue to offer free rapid antigen testing for asymptomatic staff Tuesday-Thursday from 3-4:15pm at 577 Dorset Street. 

    Hiring Updates on Key District Positions

    As many of you know, our District is in the process of hiring for three key positions. The search for an Executive Director for Equity is being supported by Rhiannon Kim, who is consulting with SBSD for this hiring process and Karen Dantzscher, Director of Human Resources. A committee was formed for which there were 13 applicants and 8 were selected to serve. Candidates for the Executive Director of Equity are being assessed based on the following: leadership experience, training/coaching/changemaking experience, cross-disciplinary collaboration skills/experience, Pre-COVID DEI Experiences (anti-racism, LGBTQIA+, Disability Rights, immigrant rights, gender equality, etc.), clearly communicated their interest, experience, and intent for this position in their cover letter & resume, Cover letter and references in alignment, PreK-12 experiences, if no PreK-12 Experiences; do they have skills/experience in the other areas that would be transferable to this role in SBSD. At their next committee meeting, which will occur the week of February 14th, they will discuss the candidates selected to move to the next round, develop and refine the criteria for candidates, develop interview questions, and discuss the interview process.

    Our Executive Director for Learning Violet Nichols is facilitating the process to hire our next Executive Director of Educational Support Systems after the recent retirement of longtime District employee Joanne Godek. The committee held the first round of interviews with candidates today with the hope of having a recommendation on a candidate to myself and the board in mid-February. 

    Finally, in terms of the search for our next FHTMS principal, after the sad passing of Karsten Schlenter, former SBSD administrator Pat Philips has come on board to facilitate that process. The search committee held their first meeting yesterday. The committee will be striving to get a sense of what all stakeholders are looking for in a new school leader and, once that is established, will review the applications the week of 2/28 and select those to be interviewed, conduct interviews the week of 3/7), then make recommendations to me the week of 3/14. Prior to interviewing finalists, a series of forums will be held in which finalists will meet with Administrators, Faculty/Staff, and Parents/Community Members (week of 3/21). Each of those groups will be able to provide feedback to me. Following interviews of finalists by myself at the end of March, I will make a recommendation regarding hiring to the board. Timelines are approximate and may be adjusted as needed.

    Enrollment Committee Update

    In order to help me and my administrative team determine next steps to address the emergent needs around enrollment at Rick Marcotte Central School and Orchard School, a dedicated committee comprised of board members, teachers, administrators, and community members, has been meeting monthly and sometimes bimonthly since November to discuss potential options to address this in the short and long term. Currently, our next meeting is scheduled for February 8th where we will work through a scoring matrix. Stay tuned for further updates. 

    FY23 Budget: Opportunities to Learn More

    This week, I have been engaged in quite a bit of community outreach on our proposed FY23 budget. I had a fantastic meeting with residents of the Pines, our Orchard School PTO, and the SB Rotary this morning. I also held a budget Q and A Tuesday night. Thanks to all who attended and for your thoughtful questions! As a reminder, all of our budget related videos and slides are posted to our  SBSD Budget webpage including the digital edition of our combined City and school budget book. I gave an overview of some of our upcoming budget outreach activities at the February 2 school board meeting. Also, Pre-Town Meeting will take place February 28 beginning at 6:30 pm on GoToMeeting (link provided soon) or you can join in person at 180 Market Street. 

    Early Voting: Ballots are In! 

    Early voting has begun! According to City Clerk Donna Kinville, ballots have arrived in her office and she has sent out 239 so far! You can request an absentee ballot in several ways: online at the Secretary of State's website, calling the clerk’s office at 846-4105, sending an email to dkinville@sburl.com or coming into the office during regular business hours. Voting will also occur in person at all regular polling locations Tuesday, March 1 from 7 am-7 pm.

    All ballots must be received at City Hall in the mail by the close of business on election day.  Those dropped off in the night drop box will be picked up Tuesday by 9:00 a.m.  Anything in the night drop after 9:00 a.m. will not be delivered to the polls. Find more information on the city's website.

    School Happenings

    SBHS Visual Arts Students Prepare to Display Work

    The Art for Healing Club has found a fantastic spot to display twenty of their paintings: The Pines in South Burlington! The Art for Healing Exhibit went up today and advanced art students as well as students in the Art for Healing Club contributed fabulous compositions to the cause. The work will be on display through February.  

    In addition, art and music students are preparing and selecting work to be displayed or performed at this year's Artmix, formerly known as the Arts Gala. The event takes place on March 12th at Higher Ground.  It is put together by the South Burlington Friends of the Arts.  It is an excellent opportunity for arts students to connect with arts enthusiasts in the community and to showcase their achievements!

    FHTMS Spirit Week

    The FHTMS Spirit Squad is at it again! This week, Yvette Amblo, Matt Guyette, and their team helped spearhead a Spirit Week for staff and students to help bring people together through these cold winter days! The themes include a crazy hair/hat day, PJs/comfy clothes day, a color theme by grade with neon/bright for staff, Wolf Day (wearing any school color, SB, or Wolf wear), and a sports/hobby day. Way to get in the spirit! 

    Gertrude Chamberlin Students WolfPack Time: Problem Solving!

    Principal Rouelle reported that the theme of Wolf Pack Time this week was problem solving, which is one of the social emotional learning skills using their Second Step curriculum. K-2 students worked in teams to create a boat out of tinfoil that could hold pennies, and 3-5 students worked in teams to try and create the slowest falling snowflake. Their problem solving process, using Second Step, is to remember to STEP: Say the problem, Think of solutions, Explore consequences and Pick the best solution. They used their restorative circle format to practice mindful "body melting" to get ready for the task and then again to come back together and reflect on the process. Well done!

    RMCS Students Blaze a Trail: Westward Expansion

    RMCS 5th grade teacher Lizzy Appleby reported that the westward expansion unit has been done for several years at RMCS and students recently completed their expansion simulation. They "traveled" on wagon trains (teams of 3 - 4) along the Oregon Trail. They had decisions they had to make, fates that determined their train's success, and assignments that taught them about this time period. Out of 6 wagon trains, only 3 made it to Willamette Valley.

    Orchard Students Celebrate Global Day of Play

    Orchard Students have been having a lot of fun this week! Between celebrating World Read Aloud Day with virtual author visits and Groundhog Day, Global School Play Day was an added bonus! Orchard 2nd grade teacher Ryleigh McClane initiated the idea. She had celebrated it in her school in NY and loved the idea. She said she felt like her students who have a hard time on a normal day had a day where they were able to shine. That alone inspired her to incorporate more unstructured play into her classroom.  

    McClane said, “On Global School Play Day, all Orchard students had time for unstructured play with no interference from adults. Meaning, the children had to create, discover, and play by their own intuitive compasses. Some classes took advantage of the warm weather and went outside, while others had children building restaurants out of cardboard boxes in their classrooms, writing plays, and enjoying games brought in from home.”

    Thanks for reading and stay safe!

    David