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Barre Unified Union School District Newsletter

February 2020

Business  |  Human Resources  |  Special Ed  | Early Education  |  Facilities|

Technology  |  Curriculum  |  Communications  |  Receptionist  |  PATH

Superintendent's Report

John Pandolfo - Superintendent; Tina Gilbert - Executive Assistant

We find ourselves in the midst of the most challenging budget season in my time here in Barre. The combination of many factors leaves us with tax rate increases of 14 cents in Barre City and 17 cents in Barre Town.  This includes what is effectively a net zero increase in staffing over what we currently have in place, with some shifts in professional positions and a few support staff added.  The vast majority of the increase is for things beyond our control, including health care cost increases, a drop in Equalized Pupils, and a decrease in Common Level of Appraisal in both Barre Town and Barre City. Even with this tax increase, our spending per Equalized Pupil would still be $2,000 below the projected state average for next year, which means the Barre taxpayers would still pay $5 million dollars less in educational tax than they would if we actually spent the average state value.  While we are trying to think outside the box for possible approaches, if this budget does not pass we will need to reduce in areas that will absolutely impact the quality of education we deliver.  Please keep yourself informed and help to share with others the importance of maintaining the quality education we deliver. 

Questions have come up on school year employees using paid leave immediately preceding or following a school vacation or holiday weekend.  I will provide some clarification here.  Please see the referenced articles in your relevant Master Agreement for further details:

  1. This discussion only applies to school-year employees on 185/190/etc. Day contracts, not to year-round (261 day) employees.
  2. The Para-Educator Master Agreement, Article 9.3, and the Teacher Master Agreement, Article 17.1, both state that Personal Leave is not intended to extend a vacation or weekend.  In practice we do not apply this restriction to normal two-day weekends, but we do apply it to any three day weekend or longer period including vacation weeks.  We apply this to school year employees outside the Para-Educator and Teacher Master Agreements as well.
  3. This restriction does not apply to Sick Leave or any leave other than Personal Leave.  I have been contacted by many staff members concerned that they are sick and will miss a day before or after a long weekend or vacation.  There is no article in any Master Agreement restricting when Sick Leave is used.  The expectation is only that it is used for the personal illness, medical appointments, or medical condition of the employee or qualified family member as defined in each respective agreement.
  4. Some staff members have also used Personal Leave for medical appointments.  While that is your choice, it is absolutely permissible to use Sick Leave for medical appointments.

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Business Office

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

The BUUSD and CVCC FY21 Proposed Budgets were approved to go to the voters in Barre City and Barre Town on March 3, 2020.  Please be sure to exercise your right to vote if you live in the city or town and encourage family, friends, and neighbors to do the same.  If you are not registered to vote and reside in Barre City or Barre Town please follow this link to register online: https://olvr.sec.state.vt.us/    Voting is very convenient with polls open early in the morning at 7:00 am and closing at 7:00 pm.   You can also contact your city or town clerk and they will send you an absentee ballot which you complete in the comfort of your own home and then drop in the mail.  Please support your school community on March 3, 2020!

Timesheet Reminders:  Please note that Kris, ext. 1005 and Ann, ext. 1024 are available to answer any questions you may have about completing your timesheet.  If you have questions about how many hours per day you are contracted to work, please ask your supervisor.  Para-Educators are entitled to a 30 minute unpaid lunch break.  Please contact your supervisor if you are asked to work during this time, which would then extend the hours you are contracted to work in that day.  Please contact your supervisor if there is a situation where you have worked and have not been paid. The BUUSD is obligated to pay overtime and we must know your total hours worked in a given week to be sure everyone is being paid accordingly.  Thank you for all you do to support the children in the Barre community!

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Human Resources

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

Hiring season will be upon us shortly.  Open position postings for the 2020-2021 school year are starting to be posted on the buusd.org website.  If you are interested in any of these positions, please review the internal transfer procedure.  This can be found at:
https://resources.finalsite.net/images/v1578929072/bsuvtorg/ilkep8yt2dunhfkoouhh/BUUSDInternalTransfers.pdf

We are happy to say that the Board’s search for the new superintendent is underway.  We look forward to supporting them through the search.  A search committee is being formed and a calendar is being developed.  There will be a more formal announcement coming to you soon about the search committee, timeline and charge. We will get the dates and details regarding the staff and community forums out to you in the coming weeks.

 

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Special Education

Don McMahon – Co-Director of Special Services; Stacy Anderson - Co-Director of Special Services;
Annette Rhoades - Assistant Director of Special Services; Sue Cioffi - Administrative Assistant

We learned in late December that Sharon Jacobs, Middle School Special Educator at Barre City School has been nominated for a National Life Changer of the Year Award.  To view Sharon’s profile and leave a comment to support her nomination click here.  In addition, Sharon received a letter from Governor Philip Scott, commending her for her excellent work as an educator.  Congratulations to Sharon! 

On the afternoon of the January 20th professional development day, many of our special educators spent time in curriculum work in the areas of math, ELA and alternative education instruction and a group of 8th and 9th grade special educators convened to continue their work on program alignment and transition for our 8th grade to 9th grade students on IEPs.  Para-Educators and Behavioral Interventionists at Barre Town School met with Ken Kramberg of Vermont PBIS to learn more about de-Escalation and relationship building skills and Para-Educators and Behavioral Interventionists at Barre City School spent time engaged in learning about Developmental Designs.  In addition, 17 support staff were trained in Handle With Care techniques on that afternoon.  

SEA (Spaulding Educational Alternatives) - The BUUSD Board has approved a warning for a bond vote to finance a new facility for the SEA program expansion from 30 students to 45 students. The SEA continues to grow as we accept new students who need the support we offer.  We are currently over our capacity of 30 and we are continuing to receive referrals/applications.

As we head toward spring, we will begin planning for Extended School Year services and the 2020-2021 school year. Stay tuned for more information! 

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Early Education

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

It may seem early, but PreK and Kindergarten teams at both schools are beginning to talk about how to best support students as they transition from preschool to kindergarten in the fall.  This includes thinking about supports for our public Prek students as well as those for children who attend partner centers in the community.  Some ways we support these children are through holding cross-grade team meetings, scheduling observations, and coordinating classroom visits to name a few.  Kudos to our Prek and Kindergarten teaching teams for juggling all of these responsibilities while maintaining focus on their current students’ growth and evolving needs.

Preschool Screening and Open House will be held at both schools on March 19th.  If you know of anyone who has a child who will be 3 or 4 by September 1, 2020, let them know to contact school registers to be placed on the waitlist.  Placement in our public Prek programs is on a first come, first served basis.

 

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Facilities

Jamie Evans - Director of Facilities

The buildings are doing well with all of the winter weather. The plowing of snow continues to be done well by our snow plow contractor. Early stages of planning are underway for various projects for the upcoming summer vacation break. SHS/CVCC will be taking bids for the replacement of the failed underground supply lines for the heating system at the gymnasium portion of the building. BCEMS is preparing to put out to bid the redesign and construction of the bus loop near the main front entrance. This will allow for a safer and more practical means for pick up and drop off of students to the main entrance. BTMES will be putting out to bid the removal of the main front entrance canopy structure. The work will be done in compliance with recommendations from DeWolfe Engineering. The structure was assessed and given two alternatives: major repair to supporting columns or removal of entire structure for safety reasons. BTMES will also be installing the accommodations for the two new electric school buses that are expected to arrive for the 2020 fall school season.

Work continues on the proposal for construction of a new building for the SEA program. Property has been located, a price has been agreed upon between seller and school district and an architect has begun “very” preliminary budgeting for the project. The project will need voter approval to move forward from here.

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Technology

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

Staff wifi update: The network team has worked hard to ensure that our staff wifi is more reliable and secure. There were a few changes made to the login process. You are now required to type in your full email address (include @buusd.org) and your email password when accessing the staff wifi. If you already do so, then you are all set. If you logged in earlier without @buusd.org, you would need to "forget the network" on your phone and repeat the login process. Here is the documentation on how to login if you need it. Thank you for your patience with us as we worked to streamline the process.

Microsoft Online available to all staff and students:  BUUSD is a G Suite for Education district, but if you or your students are Microsoft fans and would love to use Microsoft Office products sometimes in the classroom, you are in luck. Office 365 Education is available to all staff and students for free. All you need to do is sign up with your school email address, and you are good to go. You will have online access to the following products, among others: 

  • Word                                                                          
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Forms
  • OneDrive and many others.

If you are interested, click to get started. 

Classroom digital content use survey: As we continue to seek out more ways to support our learning community, we want to hear from you about your classroom digital content usage. This survey allows you to share your viewpoint on the challenges you face with using digital tools in the classrooms. You will be able to share your thoughts on some of the following: how you use technology to facilitate learning, obstacles you face while using technology, challenges you encounter when identifying and requesting digital tools, and so on. By participating today in this 10 minutes survey, you are helping ensure that your voice is heard as we continue to grow and improve the technology available at our schools. Here is the survey link


Technology Workshop offerings: The SHS Tech Integrationist is continuing to offer a series of technology workshops during AM Block in the eClassroom. The February Workshops will take place from Wednesday 2/12 to Friday 2/14 and again from Wednesday 2/19 to Friday 2/21 from 7:40 am - 8: 10 am. Participants will learn how to use Nearpod and PearDeck to increase students' engagement in the classrooms. We are looking to start district free trials to pilot these two programs. If you are interested in signing up for the workshop, please reach out to the Tech Integrationist in your building for more information.

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Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

Jessica Barewicz - Director of CIA

Jess on Maternity Leave: My leave begins late January/early February. A team of amazing people at Central Office will help keep the administration moving in my absence. If you have grant-related needs that are financial (PO requests, invoices, etc.), please contact Lisa who will compile requests for my approval and then route requests to be completed best person in the Business Office. If you need a routine approval (leave time, grant-funded workshop approval, etc.), please submit as usual. I will be reviewing those remotely and routing them back to central office once weekly. Please plan ahead to avoid any processing delays. 

February 7 and March 20, 2020 Inservice Days: The focus of these two days will be working and learning with Dave Melnick of NFI on Trauma-Transformed Schools. Here is an outline of the two inservice days. We will spend the morning at SHS both days and then follow up with wellness and school-based conversations applying what the morning’s learning. The more detailed plans for the afternoon will be coming from building administration to their respective staff. 

Follow-Up to January 20, 2020 Inservice Day: Thank you so much for hard work and hearty engagement on Monday, January 20, 2020! There was such rich and data-informed discussion in groups that will continue to inform our work developing our Continuous Improvement Plans (CIP) which tie to our grant investments. A draft of the district CIP will be developed through late winter using the district-wide input from November and January’s inservice days as well as feedback cycles with school-based leadership teams, the Instructional Leadership Team, the district Administrative Team, and the Board Curriculum Committee. If you have a particular interest in Continuous Improvement Planning but are not on one of these teams, please let Jess know (jbarebsu@buusd.org).

Some of you have expressed concern about our use of copyrighted material on inservice days. While much of that arena is open to interpretation and based on the intention of use, as instructional leaders we always strive to lead by example. I appreciate the concerns expressed and have taken note. Thank you!

Celebrate Your PLG Facilitators: Many PLG facilitators stepped up to lead small groups at January’s inservice with phenomenal results! While each group personalized the process a bit to their needs and their data, that is the best way to keep the work real. Having our own homegrown facilitative leaders work with groups of teachers, administrators, and paras together can’t be matched in what it says about our collaborative culture of shared leadership. Another huge thank you to everyone who stepped into such meaningful and murky inquiry together!

Integrated Field Review Update: John and Jess were provided with an early draft of the Integrated Field Review Report from our October 29, 2019 for initial review prior to the AOE’s final draft. The official report should be returned to us very soon! We are very eager to share widely. Many of the findings relate to work we have already prioritized and/or know it is time to focus additional attention on. Many commendations are a result of years of collective efforts to strengthen so many different aspects of education for our students. Overall, the report provides affirmation and confirmation of where we have been and where we will go together to keep improving teaching and learning for Barre students.

 

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Communications

Census:  Hey teachers, need an easy sub plan?  The US Census Bureau has created activities to educate our students about the importance of the 2020 Census for all grade levels!  These activities come with printable teacher and student sheets to make life simple for you and your sub while still being engaging and rewarding for the students.  https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/sis/2020census/2020-resources/k-12.html

Annual Report:  Most of my time lately is spent on writing and putting the pieces together for this report.  Everything is coming together now and following the projected timeline nicely.  We expect this to be in every voter’s mailbox before Town Meeting Day!

In The Schools:  Just a friendly reminder to reach out at jallebsu@buusd.org if you have anything fun and exciting going on in your classroom.  I'll always do my best to make it there and share the news out to our community!

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Receptionist

One thing in life that is consistent is change.   Change is important in our lives and our workplaces.  How are we to grow; improve our skills; transform our mind; deviate from the norm; update our processes in our daily work environment, unless we are willing to Change? 

That being said from a workplace view changes are continuously being made to improve our systems and processes. 

One’s own personal life change – be the power, speak out for those less fortunate and make a change in their lives, make a difference in your surroundings and be willing to allow yourself the change. 

Me – I take the trip and eat the cake!  Enjoy your WINTER! - Linda

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PATH

As the new Adventure Coordinator for the Central Office of BUUSD, I’m super excited that our newest adventure JOY RIDE began Monday, January 27, 2020. Participants have started to fill their VW bus with Joy while they navigate their road to happiness! For those registered, be on the lookout for weekly newsletters and chances to win incentive prizes. Week 2 starts today: Explore the outdoors this winter, this is the week to breathe in all the wonderful crisp air and take on an outdoor activity that will bring you joy.

There are also plenty of other ways to earn PATHpoints from the Healthy Life Survey (50 points) to Show Your Smile (25 points). For more information please log into your BUUSD To My Path account. 

Stay warm and be healthy! Michelle

BUUSD PATH Sponsored Paint & Snack February 12, 2020
Ready to Laugh? Have a fun time with friends & find the "JOY" in painting? Then this workshop is for you! Our instructor is the very famous (and funny) Arthur Zorn. He will lead us in creating our masterpieces, and we have healthy snacks as well! Any questions, let me know. The first 20 to sign up and pay their $10 will have a fun evening to remember. Sign up at link below. Beth Bicknell
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1IG66YaV2I61ta0GWcQ_6PyRruHdzpz3463Acn40W5jg/edit?ts=5e2b284e#gid=0

Ongoing Yoga with Christina Morris 4:00-5:00pm (nominal fee)
Thursdays until June 11th (following school calendar) @ Barre Town School (Large Multipurpose Room)
10 sessions cost $75. This is a PATH sponsored event and open to all BUUSD employees. 
See Laura Thygesen’s email from 12/31 to sign-up. I continue to hear positive reviews of this class!

PATH Coordinators:
BC:  Diana Flood, Jessica Maurais, Ian Thomas   SHS:  Beth Bicknell, Jesse Carpenter, Sarah Chap
CVCC: Wendy Clark, Cheryl Zanleoni   BT:  Laura Thygesen, Jessie Casavant, Amy Robertson 
BUUSD:  Michelle Leeman
 

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