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Barre Unified Union School District Newsletter

January 2020

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

Technology  |  Curriculum  |  Communications  |  PATH

Superintendent's Report

John Pandolfo - Superintendent; Tina Gilbert - Executive Assistant

I had the pleasure of attending the UVM Outstanding Teacher Ceremony on December 5.  In addition to hearing an inspiring speech by outgoing Vermont Teacher of the Year Tom Payeur of Winooski High School and seeing teachers recognized from across our state, our own Don Singer (JROTC Instructor at Spaulding High School), and Tim Sanborn (Science Teacher at Barre Town Middle School) were recognized for making a difference in the lives of their students and colleagues.  Congratulations to Don and Tim!

Please also join me in congratulating Alison Grogan and Michael Whalen for joining the ranks of National Board Certified teachers in our district.  This is quite an accomplishment; the NBCT process is quite rigorous and exemplifies quality instruction.  For more information on National Board Certification, go to https://www.nbpts.org/

In one more note of congratulations, Carol Marold has recently met the requirements to become a Senior Certified Professional through the Society for Human Resource Management.  Carol achieved this national certification by passing a challenging exam (which has a pass rate of only 55%).  We are fortunate to have Carol’s expertise in our organization.

Questions have come up on employees using the “Admin-Principal” option in Aesop. I will provide some clarification here, and HR plans to follow up with a procedure on their webpage.

  1. A staff member should have PRIOR APPROVAL from their supervising administrator (Aesop approver) prior to entering Admin-Principal for a reason into Aesop.  In most cases, this will follow direct communication between the employee and the supervising administrator.  In some cases, this could be done as a general approval and not need to be direct communication in every instance (i.e.; where a case manager goes to CHOICE Academy for a series of meetings over the year).
  2. The staff member should almost always know in advance they will need this option so they should enter it into Aesop IN ADVANCE
  3. If the staff member misses the deadline for Aesop, they should NOT go directly to the sub coordinator but should send an email to the supervising administrator (Aesop approver) who can then forward it to the sub coordinator saying "I approve".  This keeps our sub coordinators out of the uncomfortable position of being put on the spot to enter Admin-Principal without authorization.  Please remember, your sub coordinator is not your supervisor and is not authorized to approve your absence; they also have very challenging jobs and deserve all of our respect.

You will see some information from the Business Office about the FY21 budget.  Unfortunately, this looks to be one of our most challenging budgets in years, in terms of the impact on tax rates in Barre City and Barre Town.  The vast majority of the increase will be due to factors that are beyond our control.  A significant portion of the increase is related to health insurance.  Wage increases is always one of the biggest factors, as wages make up the largest portion of our budget.  Additionally, many of the other increases are “right-sizing” the budget to our actual expenses, as we have avoided some increases in budget lines in the past in an effort to keep the tax rate low. While some taxpayers will be asking where the savings from merging our districts went, we can be thankful small efficiencies we are seeing from the merger, or else tax rate increases would be even higher.  We should remember that we continue to provide a high quality education to our students at a cost that is still well below the state average; our current Draft 3 Budget has a projected per pupil spending $2,000 below the statewide FY21 estimate.

Reminder: As we enter re-licensure season, please stay ahead of the timeline, work with your Local Standards Board, and get a copy of your new license report to Tina Gilbert when you have completed the process.

Column Movement Notification Requirement for Teachers - Written notification to the Superintendent for horizontal salary schedule changes taking place for the next contract year are due on or before January 15, 2020. It is understood and agreed that a teacher will submit to the superintendent the appropriate administrative form(s) and transcript(s) indicating satisfactory completion of the course(s) taken before a change in horizontal salary schedule placement will become effective. This notice of course completion shall be provided to the superintendent by November 1st. If you have any questions at all please feel free to contact Tina at ext. 1015.

Lastly, in case you didn't see it in the Curriculum section of last month’s newsletter, I will again share the link to a Ted talk by 2019 Nebraska Teacher of the Year Sydney Jensen about the secondary trauma that impacts school staff, as I feel it is very relevant.  Sydney offers some great thoughts on how to build and enhance a trauma-informed/trauma-transformed system.  I will credit Becca Webb, our Regional Act 166 Coordinator, with finding and sharing this talk.  https://www.ted.com/speakers/sydney_jensen
 

 

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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

REMINDER:  The BUUSD’s consolidation on July 1, means that all employees were employed by two different entities in the calendar year.   All employees (employed before July 1, 2019) will receive at least two W2s. These will be in your mailboxes by January 30, 2020.   Contact Kris or Ann if you have any questions.

SCHOOL BUDGET:  The BUUSD Board will be reviewing and approving a FY21 Budget at their meeting on January 9, 2020.  Many of you are residence of Barre City or Barre Town.  Please encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to exercise their right to vote on March 3, 2020.   Requesting an absentee ballot is very convenient and all it takes is a call to your local municipal office.  Barre City residents may call 476-0242, and Barre Town residents may call 479-9391.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION:  No matter what your resolutions are, the key isn’t making the list it’s sticking to it.  Here are five resolutions that can help improve your financial wellness for the new year:  

  1. Create a budget
  2. Manage your debt
  3. Optimize your portfolio
  4. Prepare for the unexpected
  5. Protect your assets

RETIREMENT:  As an employee in the BUUSD you have the benefit of contributing to a tax deferred 403(b) plan with very competitive administrative fees.  You also have the benefit of accessing advice from an Edward Jones financial advisor.   Please see our website under Human Resources, Retirement, for more information about how to locate an Edward Jones office near you.  Following are the 2020 IRS limits on elective deferrals.  The most an employee can contribute to a 403(b) account out of salary - is $19,500 in 2020 ($19,000 in 2019). Employees who are age 50 or over at the end of the calendar year can also make catch-up contributions of $6,500 in 2020 ($6,000 in 2015 - 2019) beyond the basic limit on elective deferrals.  The limit on annual additions (the combination of all employer contributions and employee elective deferrals to all 403(b) accounts) generally is the lesser of:  $57,000 for 2020 ($56,000 for 2019).

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Human Resources

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

The statewide healthcare bargaining process has been completed and we have confirmed that it’s unlikely there will be changes that substantially affect the BUUSD’s healthcare coverage for 2020.  Changes will take place on January 1, 2021.  This means that you won’t need to do anything until the next open enrollment in the fall of 2020.  We will keep you posted!

We are happy to announce that we will be working with Healthy Dollars again this year as the Third Party Administrator for our health insurance plans.  Healthy Dollars has been a great partner for us as our TPA and we look forward to another smooth year.

We still have many different opportunities for new paras.  Did you know that the top three reasons our paraeducators came to the BUUSD are: (1) their desire to work with children; (2) the school schedule; and (3) the Barre location?  The best way to recruit talented, engaged employees is through employee referrals.  Please send them right to our website for a list of the current open positions.  https://www.buusd.org/district/employment

 

 

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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

In a continuation of the centralization of our special services department, Robin Poulin, Administrative Assistant has moved to the central office as of December 27th.  We have shared communication with staff about the move and how documents and materials will flow after the move.

We have hired Brandi Bohn as a new Speech and Language Pathologist.  Brandi will be covering a FMLA leave at BCEMS through January and then will move to BTMES to fill the SLP position that we were unable to fill for the start of the year.  Brandi is originally from Spokane, Washington and has worked with the Birth to 3 and early childhood populations prior to her move to Vermont.  Welcome Brandi!

As shared in the December Newsletter we have now finalized and shared IEP, Initial Evaluation and Re-evaluation checklists to be used by our special education staff to ensure required steps are completed during the IEP and Evaluation Process.  Please let us know if you do not know how to access these and we will help you out.

We recently met with District Technology Integrationists to begin the conversation about how assistive technology (AT) supports can be utilized in a universal design model and how AT can support students with special needs.  Tech integrationists will join us at our January Special Ed Staff meetings to share available AT resources and talk with us about needs that they can be helpful with.

We continue to meet with building Administrators weekly to share ideas and learn from each other.  This has been a very productive process that has proven to strengthen our systems of student supports.

The tide is rising at the SEA as we have recently accepted three new students and are currently considering applications for three more! We are happy to welcome our new BI Patricia Russell Copping, who has filled a long vacant position previously held by Lucas John at the ACT program. The pursuit continues for a new district owned facility that will allow our alternative special education programs to expand and support a broader scope of needs for the students in our district.

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Early Education

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

Act 166 (Universal Preschool) is gearing up for registration to begin in February.  All 3, 4, or 5 year olds are eligible for 10 hours of preschool funded by their local school districts.  More information to follow!

The Barre Town Early Education Program welcomes Heather Touchette as our new Prekindergarten permanent sub, supporting staff absences in preschool, and also grades K-4 as needed. Both Barre Town and Barre City Elementary schools have an additional opening for Prekindergarten Permanent subs.  A link to the application can be found on School Spring. 

The BUUSD will hold annual PreK developmental screenings in March of this year.  This is a little earlier than in years past.  If you live in Barre City or Barre Town and have a child who will be 3 or 4 by September 1st, be on the lookout for upcoming advertisements with details on how to sign up to attend.
 

 

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Facilities

Jamie Evans - Director of Facilities

The maintenance departments in all of the BUUSD buildings performed small projects during the winter vacation break. Extra cleaning, preventative maintenance, routine maintenance and various other duties were tackled. SHS/CVCC replaced their dated fire alarm panel with a new fire alarm panel. Be sure to thank your custodial and maintenance crew for their hard work.

The grounds continue to look good with the snow plowing contractor for all BUUSD properties, the heating plants are working well and all is well with all of the buildings at this time.

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Technology

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

BUUSD Tech Help Website:  The technology integrationists collaborated to create a tech help website for BUUSD teachers. The site contains videos, tutorials, and quick tips organized by relevant classroom topics. All the tutorials highlight tools that are available here in the District. You may contact the Technology Integrationist in your building with questions. This tech help site for teachers is now live on the following link: https://sites.google.com/buusd.org/barreschoolstechhelp/home.

1:1 Chromebooks Program for Barre Schools:  With a successful implementation of 1:1 Chromebooks program for all our high school students, we are now extending this initiative to our middle schools (BTMES first and BCEMS to follow). Unlike our high school students, middle school students will not be taking their assigned devices home. Chromebooks are subject to the same filtering rules both off and on campus. Although no web content filtering system is ever 100% effective, the software used by the District provides protection against inappropriate web content that meets federal Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requirements.

Windows 7 support ends:  A reminder to everyone that Microsoft will end support for Windows 7 this January. We are working now to upgrade our remaining Windows 7 devices to Windows 10. Let us know if your school computer is still running on Windows 7 so we can update your device. For your safety, please check your home computers and upgrades to Windows 10 if you have not done so.

G Suite December Updates:

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Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

Jessica Barewicz - Director of CIA; Ashley Dunlea - Administrative Assistant

Jan 20 Inservice: Planning for January 20 inservice day is in full swing with the Instructional Leadership Team (ILT). The ILT processed all of the exit ticket and Google Form feedback from November 11th to inform planning of January 20th; while the feedback varied across the board, we took it into account in our planning and want you to know that your feedback matters. If the agenda for January 20 is not shared with everyone prior to the holiday break, it will be shared soon after. 

Google PD Calendar: Here is a link to a Google calendar to house PD and meeting information. It will become more comprehensive and detailed as time goes by. If you click the event, as they become available details and relevant documents will be added to the description boxes to help pull things into accessible spots for everyone. Please add this to your list of calendars for easy access.

Leadership Team Visits: Jess has been meeting with each building-based leadership team to get feedback on the remainder of inservice days. Once those meetings are completed, she will report out themes and send a Google form to get input into PD needs across the district and ideas for a comprehensive committee for next year. 

Curriculum Committee: Math Curriculum and Teacher Leaders presented to the Curriculum Committee on December 11. A big thanks to Erin Carter, Venus Dean, and Chris Farnham for such a thorough presentation about PK-12 math curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices! January 28th’s meeting is focused on PK-12 literacy. 

Relevant Topics:
Proficiency-Based Learning: There is much chatter about PBL implementation across the state. These are recent articles that help recenter us around the why and purpose of PBL. 

Questioning Techniques for Deeper Learning:

Truancy: We’ve been talking some about truancy at Administrative Team meetings knowing there are many angles to examine in how to improve student attendance. This article is an accessible way for all of us to positively encourage attendance for students when the issue often feels so beyond our control. 

Collaboration and High Quality Teams: Collective efficacy might be a new buzz word, but it is also a significant indicator of the success of any school or system. Our ability to achieve the collective goals we set can sometimes be limited or enhanced by how much we truly believe we can actually attain our lofty goals together.  

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Communications

Annual Report: My attention is shifting more and more towards the budget as the vote date begins to approach.  I am gathering all materials for our Annual Report, which I am using as a tool to tell our story and educate our voters on the upcoming budget.  You can expect this document to be in the mailbox of every Barre household shortly before Town Meeting Day.

Census:  As Census Day approaches us on April 1, I wanted to share a reminder why it is so important for schools.  The count impacts the federal funding we receive each year for programs and services that are critical for schools, students, and younger children, such as: Special Education, After-School Programs, Classroom Technology, Food Assistance, and Child Health Programs.  The US Census Bureau has released resources designed specifically for schools, with materials designed for any age level. https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/sis/2020census/2020-resources.html

In The Schools:  I've been having a great time in the schools taking photos and sharing the great things you all are doing with our community on social media.  Please reach out to me at jallebsu@buusd.org if you have anything exciting happening in your classroom and you'd like me there to capture it!  A lot of you have already been doing this and I really appreciate it.

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PATH

HIIT Thursdays with Brittany Tremblay from 4:15-5:00 pm at Granite City Group Fitness, January 2-February 6th (nominal fee), watch for signups via email (Only six spots left as of New Year’s Eve)
HIIT or High-Intensity interval training, also called high-intensity intermittent exercise or sprint interval training, is a form of interval training, a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods. This class could include body weight exercises as well as various weights and equipment. HIIT stations, partner exercise, and/or individual work. The class can accommodate all fitness levels and is setup as an "at your own pace" type of workout. It is truly a great workout for any BODY!

Ongoing Yoga with Christina Morris 4:00-5:00pm (nominal fee)
Thursdays January 2 until March 12th (10 sessions)(following school calendar) @ Barre Town School (Large Multipurpose Room), watch for signups via email
Classes will begin seated or lying down, using a grounding meditation to start, then incorporating breath and movement, progressing toward standing postures and thoughtful sequences engaging the whole body. (Suggestions for modifications for all different body types will be offered). Class will end with some seated postures and a short savasana (rest), then a final meditation. 

BSU Family Skate! 5:30-6:30pm (FREE)
Saturday January 11th @ BOR , Barre , no signups required-just come and have fun!
Come skate with your family, co-workers and friends. The ice is rented exclusively for us! Free snacks will be provided.

Building CoordinatorsBCEMS: Diana Flood, Jessica Maurais, Ian Thomas; SHS: Beth Bicknell, Jesse Carpenter, Sarah Chap; CVCC: Wendy Clark, Cheryl Zanleoni; BTMES: Laura Thygesen, Jessie Casavant, Amy Robertson; BUUSD: Michelle Leeman

VINS Nature Camp Registration is open - https://vinsweb.org/nature-camp/
NEW NATURE CAMP!  Survival Superpowers: Frozen World - February 17-21, 2020/Grades 1-4 https://vinsweb.org/nature-camp/february-2020/

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