School Board Update

Hi Neighbors —

The Burlington School Board met last night during a lull in the snow. Just before the meeting, Superintendent Collins and BHS Principal Amy Mellencamp caused cheers to ring out at the BHS basketball game by announcing that today would be a snow day. With multiple inches of snow on the ground already and a full day of flakes predicted, it looks like it was a good call.

The February Board meeting is traditionally quicker and quieter than most meetings, and last night was no exception. Here are a few of the highlights:

– The Board said a fond farewell to colleague (and now State Senator) Philip Baruth, whose schedule in Montpelier means that he is leaving the Board a month early. Senator Baruth has been a strong advocate for the interests of children in Burlington, and he will continue that advocacy in Montpelier as a member of the Senate Education Committee.

– Town Meeting Day will be held on March 1, 2011 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Ballots for early voting will be available at the City Clerk’s Office beginning, Wednesday, February 9. The Clerk’s Office will be open for early voting on Saturday, February 26, from 9 to noon, and will remain open until 7:30 p.m. on Monday, February 28 (the night before the election). For additional information, you can view the City’s election calendar here: http://www.ci.burlington.vt.us/docs/2919.pdf

– Registration for kindergarten students entering school next fall is now open. Complete information on the registration process and all the necessary forms are available on the District Web site: http://bsdweb.bsdvt.org/district/Parents/K-Reg.php. Any child who turns 5 before September 1 is eligible to enter kindergarten; however, the Board recently adopted a policy change that gave the Administration the authority to draft procedures to allow for possible exceptions. The Administration has done so, and handed out the procedures to the Board last night. In a nutshell, the District will consider enrolling a child who turns five between September 1 and September 30, provided an independent assessment concludes that the child is ready to enter school. The cost of the assessment will be borne by the District. The deadline for requesting an assessment is the end of kindergarten registration each spring (in this year, March 17). If you are interested in exploring this option for your child, please contact the Administration for a complete copy of the procedures and additional information.

– The search for a new full-time principal at the Integrated Arts Academy is underway. The deadline for applications is March 1, 2011, so if you know anyone who might be interested or if you are in any relevant social networks, please direct people to SchoolSpring.com, where the ad is posted. The Principal Search Advisory Committee, which will be reviewing the applications and selecting finalists, will undergo anti-bias training on March 9, prior to its initial review. The review of applications will occur on March 16 and 17, and the finalists will be asked to make presentations to various IAA constituencies at the end of the month. A decision on the new IAA principal is expected by mid-April.

– Beginning next month, the Board will be going (almost) paperless, as we implement a service called BoardDocs. There are a number of advantages to this (not least of which the savings in paper and time at the copier), but the most significant is that members of the public will have instantaneous access to all of the public materials provided to the Board. Once I have more details, I will provide information on how to access the documents online. Information and a link will also be posted on the District Web site, www.bsdvt.org.

– As part of our planning for the Nellie Mae grant application, high school senior and aspiring filmmaker Graham Raubvogel was asked to make a video about the high school of the future. His final product was shown to the Board last night, and is available online at: http://www.vimeo.com/19418778.

– Earlier this year, I was authorized by the Board to create a Task Force on Diversity & Equity, which was charged with looking at both short-term and long-term strategies for increasing diversity and equity in the Burlington School District. Former Board member (and now City Councilor) Vince Brennan was elected chair, and was asked to report to the Board in February. At the meeting last night, Vince described the work that the Task Force has done so far, but explained that given the complexity of the issues and the amount of data to be reviewed, substantial work remains. After a brief discussion, the Board voted to extend the deadline for the Task Force’s final report and recommendations to the September Board meeting.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to email me (flane@bsdvt.org) or fellow Ward 5 school commissioner Amy Werbel (awerbel@bsdvt.org).

Regards,

Fred Lane
Ward 5 School Commissioner and Board Chair
12 Catherine Street
flane@bsdvt.org
802-318-4604

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