Thursday September 27, 2012
As the City of South Burlington and Chittenden County have become more diverse, the importance of ensuring that all individuals have the opportunity to take advantage of District programs and services has become of paramount importance.
At the September 19 School Board meeting, Superintendent David Young presented the board with a “work plan” outlining potential ways the District can begin to determine how best to understand and identify specific needs. As cited in Young’s report, it is a fact that demographics are changing rapidly and in order to be able to welcome new cultures, there is a need for professional development, sharing of experiences as a region regarding successes and challenges as well as engaging and educating the community.
Some steps toward inclusion have already been taken, such as the addition of a language converter at the bottom of the School District’s website. Current actions that will be taking place from September through November also include professional development; part of which involves establishing region-wide offerings that help develop an understanding of different cultures. Winooski, Burlington, and South Burlington will develop a 3 tier, district-wide building based and classroom based model in November 2012.
Further, data based decision making and sharing as a region was cited as a priority as well. Part of this involves participation in the regional symposium on achievement data sponsored by Burlington and the United Way. Also, reviewing data on attendance, graduation rates, participation in advanced classes, and after school participation will be evaluated from September through November 2012.
The professional development, data collection and analysis are wonderful tools for administration and staff, but another key piece of inclusion involves engaging and educating the community. A component of this plan that will work toward achieving this will connect with different refugee associations in devising a professional development plan and communicating with the larger community around why this work is important and how they can become involved.
Next steps for the district involve working on determining budgetary needs, collecting and analyzing data, meeting with guidance counselors, building and central office administrators.
Young made it clear that what he presented had not gone into depth yet and he designed this work plan to serve as a springboard for generating dialogue and ideas. “We need to determine what the needs are and how we are going to serve them,” Young said. Although this report was added to the agenda as an annual review item, it was the conclusion of the board that this should be a recurring report on the board calendar on a more frequent basis to discuss developments as they occur.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent