Good evening Commissioners:
As you know, I am president of the Burlington Education Association. I’m also a history teacher at BHS and a resident of Ward 5.
On behalf of the Burlington School District’s teachers and paraeducators, I hope that as you work toward the March vote on a proposed budget for 2017-18, problems that plagued the current year’s budget will be avoided. I hope that the strategic planning process underway is being driven by district goals that focus on comprehensive student-centered educational programming and services.The strategic plan needs to be grounded in the goal of providing ample opportunities for student success.
Specifically, I hope that your proposed budget will make clear the district’s educational objectives and will clearly identify through line-item accounting the specific expenditures needed to reach those goals. I also hope that all programs, people, and budget items can be defended as directly serving the educational needs of Burlington’s students.
Out of respect for Burlington taxpayers, it is more crucial than ever that allocations of funds -- proposed and actual spending of tax dollars -- must first and foremost go toward student-directed services.
In that vein, library/media center specialists must be restored at all schools. These teachers are not replaceable. These programs are not expendable. Library/media services provide crucial direct support for students and teachers. Those of us who work directly with students are feeling the hit; we are not able to provide the quality of education our community expects. Library/media centers are the heart and soul of a democratic society. As a district we need to take seriously our goal of providing equitable educational opportunities to all students.
Similarly, as we strive to insure that each and every student has access to educational support and programming that is appropriately challenging, your proposed budget needs to restore faculty and paraprofessionals who provide both remedial services and advance placement programming. We cannot afford to continue slashing programs for any student; to do so will continue to damage the education of all students.
Again, as you work toward developing a proposed budget for the March vote, I hope you will be honest and true to Burlington’s heritage of providing all necessary student-directed educational programs and services, staffed with licensed professionals. The goals that direct the budget must insure that all students have equal access to an education that will make reaching one’s full potential a reality for each student.
I wish you an enjoyable and safe December break and a happy new year.
We are the educators of Burlington, Vermont. We strive daily to build the schools that Burlington's kids deserve.