B-ESD School Board
Thanks to some increases in funding from the state we have lowered class sizes in kindergarten and the first grade, and last year we began a Pre-K class to help some students prepare for Kindergarten. Pay to play fees for athletics have been eliminated and other fees like lab fees have been reduced. The high school has moved to a block schedule allowing students to take more elective classes. And because of comments made through Thoughtexchange, an online community survey, more arts classes have been added. Although state testing is still required, we are moving beyond the tests and emphasizing deeper learning to teach our students how to solve practical problems. The City of Burlington has hired a Community Resource Officer and he is in our schools learning the needs of staff and mentoring students and teaching about internet safety.
The Board is studying the advantages of our K-8 system verses having a 7-8 grade middle school. We met with the staff in each building for their input. A middle school configuration committee was formed which studied the issue and recommended having a 7-8 middle school. Community members were able to provide input through Thoughtexchange with a variety of recommendations. These reports can be found on the District website. Because of the long tradition of a K-8 system in Burlington, the Board continues to consider the issue.
For the past several years, the number of students in our district have declined slightly. However, we are starting to see an increase in students and there is more new construction within our district boundaries. A study conducted last year by FLO Analytics projected that we would increase our student population by 250 students over six years. This is concerning because we are currently using 42 portables and there is no space for more at any of our elementary school sites. Last year the legislature authorized lower class sizes in Kindergarten through the third grade but we were unable to take advantage of this in the second and third grades because of the lack of classrooms. Two years ago the School Board asked a group of community experts to study our currently owned property that hasn’t been built upon. They recommended selling the Bow Hill property, due to the presence of wetlands, and keeping the rest until conditions change. The Peterson-Pulver property continues to be leased to local farmers and the Bow Hill property has been sold. This past year the Board contracted with Theisen Architects to do a detailed study to determine the feasibility of building at Allen school, Peacock Lane or on the West View high school complex. This study can be found on our District website As a result of the Theisen study, we believe adding on to Allen is impractical and building on the Peacock Lane site would be too expensive because of infrastructure needs and flood zone restrictions. The Board continues to search for future building sites but we believe the best site currently available is north of the high school near the park and ride.
We are in the first year of our six year tech levy. Important infrastructure upgrades have been made and our third grade programs have been fully implemented. These classrooms have complete sets of Chromebooks, tablets, and a Chromecast TV. Our staff has had extra training so they are able to utilize this technology fully in their lesson plans. Staff and students have been excited with the results and we look forward to phasing in this technology to the rest of the District over the next three years.
Planning is underway to remodel the high school locker rooms. Beyond improving the locker rooms, this will increase safety, and the flow and function of the hallways. Hopefully, work will begin sometime near the summer of 2018. We will also be remodeling the old auto shop to make this area more functional and plans are being made to increase parking at Bay View. In later years the Capital Project Levy will be used to increase maintenance that was delayed because of previous budget cuts.