As President of the BEA, let me share with you two issues of particular concern to teachers.
As of yesterday, your Board consent agenda included a teacher renewal list that indicates 248 teachers have returned their letters of intent. This leaves 160 teachers; or nearly 40% of Burlington’s teachers have either resigned, retired, asked for an extension or have unresolved contract issues. I understand that a second list will be part of your June consent agenda.
As teachers leave, past practice has been to conduct exit interviews. I hope that interviews are conducted and the Board is apprised of the reasons behind the departures. Honest dialogue about such issues should help inform Board policies and direct the administration.
My second concern is with the NEASC accreditation report, which is now circulating. It is good news to know that the NEASC commission granted accreditation for BHS. It is important, however, to focus on the recommendations made in the report to help guide necessary changes at the high school in order to insure that we are meeting the educational needs of all students.
In addition to the recommendations noted in the District’s press release, let me draw your attention to the following recommendations:
- Provide a certified, licensed, library/media specialist for the school to ensure that library/media services are integrated into curriculum and instructional practices throughout the school
- Provide time for teachers, special educators, ELL teachers and student support staff to collaborate regarding student needs and support
- Provide additional support staff to ensure a full range of services for identified students and to effectively and consistently collaborate with teachers
- Provide and ensure that meaningful curriculum coordination exists between the middle schools and the high school
- Ensure resource allocations support the implementation of a proficiency based curricular model
- Develop and implement a more collaborative and transparent building-wide decision-making process
- Develop a plan by which administration and teaching staff address professional climate to ensure positive professional discourse between teaching staff and administration
- Ensure that the school board, superintendent and principal are collaborative, reflective, and constructive in establishing goals for the school with a focus on the school’s 21st century learning expectations
These recommendations are not trivial; meeting student needs on these terms would transform our schools. I encourage each of you to read the full report to better understand what is being done well at BHS, but also what needs to be addressed so our students have access to the high-quality education they deserve.