On March 5, voters will be asked to approve an overall school budget of approximately $51 million with net spending per equalized pupil of $15,944. By any measure, this is a significant investment of taxpayers’ monies. The obvious question should be, are we getting what we pay for? The best answer to that question comes from our students.

Several years ago, the district worked with the community to refine our Ends. The Ends are attributes that we strive to develop in our students. They are standards against which we measure the students’ and the district’s progress. The Ends are also our guide for deploying resources provided by South Burlington’s taxpayers. The major Ends are Academic Proficiency, Citizenship, Personal Development, and Disposition for Life-Long Learning. To help students achieve Academic Proficiency, the district provides a range of opportunities beyond the minimum requirements, including dual enrollment in college courses, online classes, advanced placement courses, college-level math, and academic extra-curricular activities. As a result of this investment, our students consistently demonstrate excellence in traditional academic performance with standardized test scores higher than Vermont and national averages, a graduation rate of over 95 percent, high matriculation rates to a range of colleges, and the securing of career opportunities upon graduation.

Arnel Husrefovic, senior student representative on the school board, cites his participation in Boys State as a crucial and life-changing experience during his time at South Burlington.

“Going to Boy’s State gave me a clear understanding of what I want to pursue at American University in D.C. next year and this would not have been the case had guidance not helped me go on this trip,” Arnel said.

This experience supports the District’s Ends Policy of Citizenship, where students are expected to contribute to their community and participate in local and state government. Arnel will be studying politics, government, and communications and has received substantial annual grant funding to pursue his studies. Arnel shared that The Big Picture program, Personalized Learning Plans (grades 6-12), Advisory programs, the Career Development Center, and student-led conferences help him and his colleagues to take stock of their learning, set ambitious goals for themselves and plan for their future with real-life work experiences.

The board’s junior representative, Cole Patno, is an active participant in student council and the drama program, two of the many extra-curricular activities offered to promote Personal Development and a Disposition for Life-long Learning. Cole is generous with his time and talent as a volunteer and mentor in the middle school. Cole cites the one-to-one laptop program as a critical investment by the community in his learning, his ability to collaborate with peers, and the opportunity to network with staff and teachers on a routine basis.

The dividend for the community’s significant investment in our schools is an exemplary education that includes a wide variety of experiences designed to tap into the talents and passions of each student. This investment also provides experiences that support the development of life-long friendships, a robust network of mentors and support, and a strong sense of community for our students. Schools that provide this type of educational experience and these kinds of outcomes attract families to South Burlington that contribute their time, energy, and talents to our community as a whole.

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