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Barre Unified Union School District Newsletter

October 2020

Business  |  Human Resources  |  Special Ed  | Early Education

Facilities  |  Technology  |  Communications  |  Reminders

Superintendent's Report

David Wells - Superintendent; Tina Gilbert - Executive Assistant

With Budget Season being upon us, I am joining BUUSD Business Manager Lisa Perrault as she holds budget meetings with Directors and Building Principals. We are focusing on the goal of restricting new spending and looking for savings. A number of opportunities for savings have presented themselves during this early budget work.

I am holding weekly meetings with BUUSD Curriculum Coordinators and Coaches with support from Jean Heager from the Great Schools Partnership. Our two main areas of focus have been defining the roles and responsibilities of BUUSD curriculum leadership and organizing & aligning existing curriculum documents.

I have begun to hold three meetings with the BUUSD Re-Opening Committee with the goal of presenting options that will allow us to increase in-person instruction in our schools. A wide range of committee members including BUUSD administrators, building principals, teachers, paraprofessionals and school nurses have provided input. Proposed actions and timelines will be presented to the Board on or before its October 8th meeting.

I continue to participate in the VSA Leadership Academy. Our latest topic of Budgeting in the COVID-19 Environment was very timely. I was fortunate to have Lisa Perrault join me in this training. The next training will focus on Collective Bargaining.

As we do our work to support licensed educators, it is essential that all licensed educators have an up to date profile in the Agency of Education Online Licensing System (ALiS). Your profile needs to indicate your current school so we have access to your information. Detailed instructions are attached to the end of this newsletter or video instructions on how to update/register can be watched at this link: AOE: ALiS Register/Update Video. Please remember to turn in a copy of your current license to Tina Gilbert at the Central Office. A copy of your details report in your ALiS account is fine as documentation.

I will add to this a plug to please work with your Local Standards Board and the Agency of Education to complete all licensing and re-licensing requirements by the extended October 15, 2020 deadline. While those people are there to support you, it is your responsibility to do everything necessary to hold an appropriate license for your appointed position.

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Business Office

Lisa Perreault - Business Manager; Ashley Young - Senior Accountant, Michelle Leeman - Staff Accountant;
Ann Baker - Staff Accountant; Kathy Couture - Medicaid Clerk; Jennifer Hart - Part-Time Medicaid Clerk

Budget Development is in full swing with the first round of meetings with administrators/directors behind us and the second round scheduled. It is challenging to propose accurate numbers when there is uncertainty around teacher and paraeducator contracts for the current year as well as FY22. David has asked administrators and directors to be conservative as they consider budgets for FY22 and to look for areas to find efficiencies that would result in savings. We do not anticipate additions and/or new programs. We have scheduled unified budget meetings with the administrative team during our weekly meetings. Draft 1 BUUSD/CVCC expense budgets will be presented to the Board in November.

COVID-19 Funding-Expenditures-The AOE recently confirmed that school districts are not eligible for FEMA funding. We continue to monitor spending and keep informed on reimbursement procedures as they become available from the AOE. We have not received FY20 reimbursement as of today however, I’m told by AOE we will be made whole on these expenses. I will keep the board informed as information rolls out to the field.

H. 969 has now passed both the House and the Senate. Here are a few favorable outcomes of this Bill for our budget development considerations:

  1. ADM will not be less than the 20-21 count. This means we can expect our equalized pupils to remain the same. THIS IS GREAT NEWS!
  2. December 1, 2020 tax commissioners property yield announcement will not include the impact of the education fund deficit.
  3. Districts will receive transportation aid for meal deliveries.

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Human Resources

Carol Marold - Director of HR; Leslie Babic - HR Specialist

The Assistant Superintendent search committee work has concluded. The superintendent will present the candidate(s) to the board on October 8, 2020 for an executive session interview. Our plan is to announce the results shortly thereafter.

Look for Open Enrollment information soon. Our open enrollment period is scheduled for the last two weeks of October. Remember that this is the only time of the year you can make changes to your benefit coverage. Make sure that you are reviewing your health benefits so that you can make changes as needed. Please review the plans at vehi.org. VEHI also has a great decision tree to help you explore your benefit options. https://vehi.org/vehi-2021-benefits-decision-support-site/

Please call us if you are planning to travel to red and yellow zones outside the state of Vermont. If you are coming from a yellow or red travel zone, you may need to quarantine and may need FFCRA leave. Please make contact with Leslie Babic at x1008 to discuss this leave option.

Please join us in congratulating Leslie Babic for obtaining her HR certification from the Society of Human Resources Management. The certification is capped off with a rigorous exam and we like to applaud the hard work and dedication needed to obtain this certification.

 

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Special Services

Stacy Anderson - Director of Special Services;
Annette Rhoades - Assistant Director of Special Services; Jon Strazza - Assistant Director of Special Services;
Jason Derner - SEA Administrator; Sue Cioffi - Administrative Assistant

Service Plan- We are in the process of developing our FY 22 Service Plan that outlines our anticipated services and budget for the 2021-22 school year. The service plan forms the foundation for budget development and helps the State determine funding formula projections. The AOE deadline for submission is October 15th.

As I shared in the August Board Report, we have formed a Special Ed Leadership Team composed of Leadership members from each of the buildings and the SEA program. Our team has agreed that we will meet once a month with a focus on increasing collaboration across our buildings and improving the vertical and horizontal alignment of programming across our department.

Special Education Professional Learning Groups (PLGs) are forming and establishing their regular meeting times for the year. We are working with Jean Haegar of Great Schools’ Partnership to shape the work of the PLG groups toward a focus of looking at student work, student assessment, and focusing on data-based decision making to impact our instruction.

We continue to participate in BUUSD’s Re-opening discussions. We have conducted a needs assessment to determine additional staffing needs as the district considers increasing in-person instruction. Since June, we have had 17 special education paraprofessionals or BIs resign across the district. We anticipate needing an additional 5-6 paraeducators to support students on IEPs in PK-8 and 2 at SHS as we increase in-person instruction time. Despite advertising since June for applicants, we have been successful with hiring only 2 paraeducators at this time.

The school year is underway at the SEA with staff available for students for 5 days a week in a variety of learning modes based on student needs. Group in-person instruction is happening 4 days a week. Remote learning is available to students every afternoon and on Wednesdays. We are partially staffed for in-person learning on Wednesdays and afternoons for individual students that need personalized support or cannot access remote learning outside of school. We are continuing to work on program development in anticipation for our expansion and move to the new building next school year. In addition, Jason is working with Jamie and Lisa to develop a new budget for the program that will accommodate our plan for increased capacity and expanded programming for student learning in the new building.

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Early Education

Lauren May - Director of Early Education; Rebecca Webb - Act 166 Coordinator; Megan Gonyaw - Administrative Assistant

Preschool classes started the week of September 15th. We are continually amazed at how well our youngest learners are doing adhering to the new health and safety guidelines. Teachers are offering more outdoor learning opportunities and structured routines in the classroom to support students as they adjust to these new practices.

The prek teams have welcomed two new staff members. Hannah Whitney is the new PreK Permanent sub at Barre City and Linda Copping is a new special education para at Barre Town. We are excited to have them on board!

Act 166 enrollment at partner programs continues to occur. Community partner programs report that families continue to enroll as they increase in confidence about having their children in larger groups than they were demonstrating earlier this summer.

 

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Facilities

Jamie Evans - Director of Facilities

All summer projects are nearly complete. The final details of completing the underground heating lines at SHS/CVCC are near completion. The reconfigured bus loop at BCMES is working very well, with much emphasis on improved safety. The removal of the canopy structure at BTMES has removed that safety concern. This also allows for viewing of the beautiful courtyard! As well, another section of the roof has been replaced. Floor tile work has also been completed in all of the buildings. BCEMS and BTMES removed portions of carpeting and replaced it with VCT tile in main corridors. SHS removed existing asbestos floor tile and replaced it with VCT tile in four classrooms.

Cleaning/sanitizing of the buildings continue to be a major focus in relation to Covid 19. Adjusting and improving the methods are an ongoing task. Faculty, staff and admin teams are rallying together to ensure this happens.

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Technology

Emmanuel Ajanma - Director of Technology;  Megan Gonyaw - Administrative Assistant

Maximizing the technology budget: As we continue to find innovative ways to make the most out of the technology budget, we have launched the use of "Analytics powered by Relay." This tool helps us examine whether the educational technology Apps and Softwares we pay for are being utilized as intended and if there are cost-saving opportunities we can explore. The following are some of the key features:

  • A dashboard of application utilization that allows us to right-size our licensing and educational technology investments.
  • The ability to see and understand the cost of educational technology applications across the district.

This tool helps us channel our technology investments to areas where they make the most sense.

Virtual PD for staff on Wednesdays: Our Technology Integrationists are collaborating to provide virtual PD sessions on various useful topics to staff members. Andrea (BTMES Integrationist) kicks off these Wednesday two-hour sessions at noon, followed by Mike (BCEMS Integrationist) at 1: 00 pm. Emily (SHS Integrationist) is also holding a training session at noon. The format of these virtual PD's will be similar to the in-service PD's: a short introduction and walk-through on featured topics, then Q&A as needed. We encourage staff members to join these weekly sessions to improve their classroom tech skills.

AOE Annual Technology Survey: We have completed the AOE Annual Educational Technology Survey for the 2020-2021 school year. This survey is required of all Vermont schools and districts to collect essential data about many aspects of the state's education technology landscape. The survey result is used by legislators, state, and local policymakers and is regularly referenced in both state and national press regarding Vermont's status around education technology. Attendance report in Google Meet: Staff members that create Google Meet will now receive an attendance report via email once the meeting is over.

The attendance reports will be generated for web or mobile meetings with at least five participants and will contain the following information for each:

  • Participant's name
  • Participant's email
  • Length of time a participant was on the call

This feature is especially useful to teachers for easily entering attendance reports in IC.

Student Device Agreement: We have completed the BUUSD 1:1 Device Student User Agreement. We will be sending the agreement to families in the coming days. The agreement outlines students' and families' responsibilities now that we have gone 1:1 for all our students.

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Communications

Josh Allen - Communications Specialist

Media: With schools being a hot topic in the news lately, I've been trying to make more of an effort for BUUSD schools to have their moment in the media to share the great things our schools are doing. In September, I worked with WCAX in collaboration with Stacy Emerson from Student Transportation of Vermont on filming a story on how we are keeping our school buses sanitary. Recently I worked with the Times Argus and SHS music teacher Bobby Booth on highlighting their music program at the high school to give some insight on how instruction has changed due to COVID-19. I am currently working on a full-page spread highlighting BUUSD schools that will be in Friday, October 23rd's issue of the Times Argus.

Budget: This year we will be increasing the quality of our budget promotional videos from what we did last year. I am collaborating with Central Vermont Career Center's Digital Media Arts II class taught by Cal Hopwood. We had a kick-off meeting in September to discuss our vision and I'm excited to work with Cal & his students through the fall semester on turning this vision into a reality. Especially right now, video is one of the most effective forms of communication because we can really engage people on a different level and we can reach our full audience with a unifying message.

Mass Communication & Newsletters: A goal of mine has been to increase the quality of our mass communications to families and our school/district newsletters. Sending walls of text just doesn't cut it anymore and there is a strong need for variety, so look for improvements on that in the coming months. In relation to that, it’s exciting that we have restarted this newsletter which came to a sudden stop in March when COVID-19 hit. We hope restarting this newsletter will help close the gap and provide transparency between the central office, our schools, and the community.

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Reminders

 

From Linda Papineau: If you have a Student Teacher or an Intern this year, please inform me when they are done working with you so they will be removed from our lists. Remember only people allowed into our locations are on the School VCIC List - contact me if you have any questions. Enjoy Fall!

Course Reimbursement Approval Form: (updated instructions for new fillable form)
Please use the new version posted on our website, Course Reimbursment Approval Form
Use the arrow in the top right to download the form to your desktop.
Open the form on your desktop, fill it out completely.

Important: Click File, Save As, and rename your form otherwise you end up with a blank form if you just save.
You will no longer send this form to your administrator to sign. This will be done through the central office.
Email your saved copy to tgilbbsu@buusd.org.

Please include: Syllabus if you have one, receipts if you paid, and any letters pertaining to your course.
Once the paperwork is completely processed an electronic copy will be emailed to you.
If a course is canceled or dropped please let Tina know. Forward grade reports or transcripts (unofficial fine) to Tina. Invoices need to be forwarded to the central office in order for payment to be processed. Most institutions send these to the student and not to us. Please refer to your Master Agreements or page one of the form for additional information.

Contacts: Tina Gilbert (tgilbbsu@buusd.org) ext. 1015 - Process forms/POs, track funding, track credits/grades.
Michelle Leeman (mleembsu@buusd.org) ext. 1007 - receives invoices, submits payments

Thank you for your help in making this process work smoothly!!

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