Statement to School Board

Good evening.
My name is Fran Brock. I am president of the Burlington Education Association and a history teacher at BHS.

First, on behalf of the district’s estimated 500 teachers and paraeducators, I would like to welcome those who have been elected — and re-elected — to the Burlington Board of School Commissioners. Our hope is that as we move forward and you take on your oversight responsibilities you will become familiar with the district’s educators — teachers and paraeducators — and the programs and services we provide the city’s children on a daily basis. We also hope and encourage you each to feel free to ask questions of us and to visit our schools and classrooms, to better understand the education we provide our students.

Toward that end, let me share with you a report just release this weekend by the Vermont NEA. This study conducted by Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations takes a hard look at the face of Vermont educators.

In 1-1 conversations with over 200 Burlington teachers and paraeducators, the BEA has begun to codify our shared values and principles. In the coming months, we will offer the community a clear sense of who we are, what we do and why we do it. We also trust that by adhering to these values we will better serve the students of Burlington.

In short, we believe in building a culture of professional growth; we believe in nurturing a welcoming school climate; we believe in teaching the whole child, connecting families to schools, and building community by communicating openly and clearly with all participants.

These principles guide us in our daily work and must anchor our school climate, policies and procedures. Our public schools are the responsibility of the public. That responsibility requires that the public is well-informed about educational programs and policies. When educators, students, parents, and other community members are well-informed and work together, our students succeed.

As you know, one major piece of unfinished business this year is the settlement of a contract with the paraeducators. These people work daily with some of the district’s most vulnerable students. We are pleased that there has been some movement forward, but we still need to have that contract settled so we all — school board members, administrators and we educators in the classrooms, can move forward. And to offer you a more clear update on that contract process, let me introduce Mark Van Buren.

Thank you.

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