Tonight, in this short 2-minute window, I want to offer some concerns on behalf of Burlington’s teachers and paraeducators.
As you know, contract talks regarding the paraeducator contract have moved to the fact-finder stage. I hope the board will take this opportunity to respectfully consider the findings when they are offered so this contract can be settled.
As for the teachers' contract, it seems we are very close to signing off on it. I certainly look forward to having a master contract in place so teachers finally can receive their full salaries and administrators and teachers finally are working from a set of constants. It will make operations of the schools more efficient and effective when we all know the agreed upon rules of the game.
I am concerned that changes in the school schedule for the balance of the school year cuts into the amount of time teachers - particularly at the elementary school level -- will have for family meetings in March. While the Superintendent has instructed building principals to work out the schedules, a district-wide policy or oversight may be needed to insure fair, balanced and equal opportunity across the district. Teachers are concerned that the decision to reduce conference time is short-changing families who need these conferences to better understand educational expectations and services; and to better support their children.
On another note, teachers are aware that the School Board is evaluating the Superintendent and reviewing his contract, even though it does not expire until Spring. While teachers and staff have not been asked for input, I hope that the Board takes into consideration such operational matters as the recent exodus of many skilled and experienced faculty and staff; and serious morale issues which, in part, manifested in the threat of a strike and then an actual strike over the past two years.
Lastly, once the 2-year contract is signed and we have some time to breath, teachers are looking forward to working collaboratively with building administrators and central staff on issues that affect student learning including safety in classrooms and buildings; educational programming; and student behavior issues. We welcome the chance to put our professional expertise to appropriate use.
We are the educators of Burlington, Vermont. We strive daily to build the schools that Burlington's kids deserve.