Sunday, October 9, 2016

Hunt Middle School Blog - October 9, 2016

Hunt Blog - October 9, 2016
Burlington School District Strategic Planning Update

Due to a scheduling conflict with School Board Meetings, the Strategic Planning event scheduled for Thursday, October 13th has been postponed. Please stay tuned for a future date and details. Thank you.

The following update was submitted to the PTO by the BSD School Board on October 5
Burlington School Board Update
During the past two weeks, Burlington School Board members have talked with many parents and community members informally and during evening informational sessions. We have appreciated the opportunity to share our thinking, hear people’s views, and to directly answer questions. During these discussions, we have repeatedly been asked to clarify the parameters of the Board’s recent employment action.  It is important to address the misinformation and inaccurate information that people have heard by beginning with the facts.
  • Fact:  Negotiations Were Rigorous but Unsuccessful. For 14 months, the Board met with the BEA. Requests by the Board for collaborative approaches to bargaining were rejected by the BEA and counter-proposals on many issues brought up by the Board were not considered.  After the Board’s last and best offer was rejected it was necessary for the Board to move forward unilaterally because without a new contract in place status quo provisions in VT law exposed the District to the potential for an additional $430,000 in costs for this school year.  The Board has agreed to meet again with the BEA to further discuss this year’s contract if invited to do so by Ira Lobel, the mutually appointed mediator. 
  • Fact:  The Salary Settlement Exceeds Inflation. The Board’s final salary offer reflects an overall increase in salaries of 2.75%. This represents a raise approaching three times the cost of living according to data from the Vermont Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
  • Fact:  Every Teacher Will Receive a Significant Raise. The Board’s final salary offer provides every full-time teacher with an average salary increase of over $1,900 for the current school year. This represents a raise that is higher than compensation settlements for other School and City employees this year and exceeds the increases in compensation of many people who live and/or work in Burlington.
  • Fact:  The Board’s Offer Reflects Full Use of Available Funds. The Board’s final offer to the teachers exceeded the money it had budgeted for salary increases. Any further expense to meet the union’s compensation demands would result in either deficit spending, or additional cuts to programs or staff during this school year, neither of which the Board is willing to do.
  • Fact: The New Teacher Salary Grid Improves Regional Competitiveness. The Board’s final offer maintains a regionally competitive salary grid for teachers, and improves the District’s competitiveness relative to surrounding school districts at many of the benchmarks agreed upon by the Board and union. In comparison with the 9 Chittenden County Districts, Burlington teacher compensation now ranks above the midpoint for new and mid-career teachers, and at the midpoint for senior teachers.
  • Fact:  Teachers Will Pay a Modest Increase in Their Health Insurance Contribution. Despite a 7.9% increase in health insurance costs this school year, the Board’s final offer absorbed 90% of the increase by accepting the union’s proposal to increase the teachers’ share of premiums from 15% to 16% starting January 1, 2017. 
  • Fact:  Teachers Will Continue to Have Multiple Opportunities for Professional Development. In addition to providing $80,000 for graduate course reimbursement, the Board’s final offer continues to provide additional salary increases beyond step movement for teachers who successfully complete graduate credits, and the District will continue to offer many professional development activities that teachers can use to meet licensure requirements.
We ask all of you – community members, parents, teachers, students, and taxpayers – to please consider the facts because facts matter. And the facts show that this contract fairly compensates teachers both in salary and benefits, and is sensitive to the financial realities that many in our community face. The Board also is cognizant of the fact that now is the time to start focusing on the longer term, and to that end the Board has invited the BEA to immediately begin negotiations for the next contract year.  This is a critical time for the District and we need to pull together to move forward. That is a fact that is undisputable.
(This post was adapted from a Burlington Free Press MyTurn editorial written by board member Miriam Stoll) 


This is the 2nd letter from the PTO leaders to both the BSD school board and the BEA.

October 5, 2016
Dear BSD and BEA,
It looks from this perspective, that, in order to avoid continued fiscal crises and likely more cuts to the BSD budget, this community needs to accomplish several things;
1) We seek and support a swift and fair teacher contract settlement. We are confident that the BSD and the BEA can work together to restart ‘16-’17 negotiations without preconditions. The two parties are no longer far apart on money issues, and the non-monetary items provide both sides with something to give. Given the fact that this is for a one year contract, some of the issues can be revisited in the upcoming contract negotiations.
2) We believe in harnessing broad community support to lobby Montpelier for improvement to situations that make it difficult to properly fund this school district. These include: changes to the pupil equalization formula; the return of PILOT funds to the school district from the city; protecting BSD from the possible effects of Act 46 which may shift funds from schools that “failed” to consolidate to schools that did; and the support of legislation that may shift the burden of funding the schools from property taxes to income tax.
Number two, which is vital to the health and maintenance of this district cannot be accomplished until number one is complete.
If the negativity and divisiveness caused by this protracted contract negotiation continues, the broad support needed for the other causes will be nearly impossible to garner.
Every day that this continues diminishes the community that you both serve.
What it takes for this school district to remain a healthy and a vital system, begins with you.
We are aware that there may be motivations at play that go beyond the immediate fiscal and social well being of this school district. We ask you all to reflect on those motivations and how they may or may not contribute to a community partnership that rebuilds our battle-worn district and helps us to create success together.
Both the BSD and the BEA need to be willing to cooperate. We, Burlington’s PTO leaders, support you both in this endeavor and pledge our future support to keeping this district strong. We will continue to advocate for an agreement between the BSD and BEA until one is reached.
We are counting on you. Please do not let us down.
Thank you,
PTO LEADERS representing The Burlington School District
Paula Henry, HMS PTO
Karen Ruben and Sue Chayer, CP Smith PTO
Clare Wool, EMS PTO and BHS Boosters
Kate Lasko and Susan Munkres, IAA PTO
Tyler Doggett and Teal Doggett, IAA PTO
Susan Cline Lucey, Christina Erickson, Tiffany Tillman, SA PTO
Sarah Kenney and David Lines, SA PTO
Leigh Fisher, Hollie Foley, Rachel Shelley, EES PTO
Christine and Nicole Thomas-Demerritt, Flynn PTO
Mike Fisher, on behalf of the Champlain PTO board
This is a letter from Burlington Friends and Supporters of Education
Dear Burlington Friends and Supporters of Education, 
We have waited to send out a September update in hopes of successful contract resolution.
As parents, guardians, friends and supporters of our public schools here in Burlington we advocate for ALL students. 
Currently the climate in our district is one of uncertainty and one that we feel is not healthy for our students, their families, our teachers and our city.
Please take a moment to review the correspondence below from our unified PTO’S sent to our school board, teachers union and school district administrators. 
Additionally attached are the links to both BEA and BSD where you can read their current communication regarding the contract. 
Special Negotiations 
Monday, Oct 10th
Central Office 
150 Colchester Ave 
Thursday, Oct 13th 
(Vote for Job Action Motion)
Thursday, Oct 13th 
Central Office 
150 Colchester Ave 

The PTO really needs a Treasurer.

If you have the desire to help out, you could make a difference!

Email us at


Our Annual Fall Harvest Dinner Approaches!
Did you know about the Harvest Festival coming up soon at our school?   

Thursday October 27th!

This has always been a great community event with parents and students welcome. Great food, wonderful music and everyone being involved. If you haven't attended before, you are going to love this event. If you're new to the school and would like to meet some new people & help out, let us know via email.
We need help setting up, serving meals, & handing out ice cream.
This would be a great way to meet the teachers in a casual setting along with parents of your students.
The food is wonderful and the kids put a lot of work decorating for this night each year.
We hope you'll join us. Put it on your calendar now!

Hunt T-Shirts 
Thanks to everyone who ordered a shirt through the pre-order forms.
We received over 50 newly designed, eye-catching Hunt Middle School t-shirt orders! 
We also ordered 50 more, which will be here in approximately 2 weeks. 
At that time, everyone will have an opportunity to purchase one. 
Watch for more details! 
We will be selling them at the Oct 27 Harvest dinner.

This is a good opportunity to support Hunt Middle School and show some school spirit.
Drama Club Presents:
WILLY WONKA & The Chocolate Factory

Save the date for an upcoming Hunt Drama Program Production Meeting!
Are you interested in learning more about Hunt Drama Program's spring production of "Willy Wonka"?  

Please come to our fall production meeting on Wednesday, October 19th at 6:30pm in the Hunt Middle School library.

Planning for the annual musical begins months in advance and we welcome all parents who are interested in helping to support the production. 
At the fall meeting, we will be recruiting volunteers and
setting fundraising goals.


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