The school board met briefly on July 10 and discussed the latest on teachers’ contract negotiations, a new drug and alcohol testing policy and an update on master planning and visioning.

Negotiations

In a school board column in the June 6 issue of The Other Paper, board clerk Bridget Burkhardt stated that members of the South Burlington Educators’ Association (SBEA) felt that the school board was rushing the contract negotiation process. She also said that the SBEA “implied that the school board has failed to negotiate in good faith.” 

In response at the July 10 meeting, Burkhardt explained that the board’s goal was to reach an agreement by the start of the 2019 school year. She went on to claim that the SBEA was utilizing a “strategy of delay.” As a result, a June 30 deadline for a fact-finding report came and went, breaching the current contract.

Board chair Elizabeth Fitzgerald informed the board that a fact-finding hearing was completed on July 9. They anticipate approximately 30 to 45 days for the fact finder to issue a full report, which will include recommendations to help the parties move toward settlement.

Drug and alcohol testing

The school board voted unanimously to pass a policy that will require alcohol and drug testing for bus drivers. The district will be in compliance with state and federal law and regulations requiring a drug and alcohol testing program for school bus and commercial vehicle drivers. This was the third reading of the policy with no further discussion.

New school plan

In master planning and visioning, the board recently voted to move forward with Option 8 from architects Dore & Whittier, which entails brand new high school and middle school buildings connected to each other. The board is now taking the next steps in the process. They will be holding various events to gather input and feedback this month, with the high school being discussed on July 16 and the middle school taking center stage on July 22. These groups will mostly include faculty, staff and administration, but there will be broader community opportunities in August.

As the architects approach the early design stages, they are faced with two issues that need to be resolved. First, the community will consider including an indoor track and field facility. Aside from parents, teachers and other general community members, the board hopes to gain insight from area coaches. They also plan on consulting the city to see how the idea would line up with the city’s own proposed recreation center. The second item that needs immediate attention is the size of the school’s future performing arts space. The question is whether they will focus on school needs exclusively or if they will consider a larger capacity in order to accommodate outside groups.

The board is compiling an invite list to the August discussion groups that will include people who have shown interest in the project in the past, but all are welcome to attend and provide feedback. In the hopes of getting the word out, the board will issue a press release in the next few weeks.

The July 10 meeting was not recorded; however, the minutes are available at www.sbschools.net

The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on August 7 at the Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School Library.

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