Thursday, May 31, 2007

If Burlington closes a school, would it have room for universal Pre-K?

This past year, the Vermont state legislature held hearings on the possibility of the state funding universal pre-K education in the public schools. It is widely accepted that pre-K education is one of the most effective ways to improve academic performance for children from low-income families.

As the chart below shows, if universal pre-K were instituted, Burlington's current elementary schools would be just at capacity. If schools are closed and buildings are sold, we would not.

ElementaryCapacity2006pre-ktotal with pre-k 
Barnes18014925174under by 6
Champlain32029449343over by 23
Edmunds34028748335under by 5
Flynn36033155386over by 16
Smith32027947326over by 6
Wheeler32022838266under by 54

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Barnes parents' principles about "socio-economic integration"

A large group of Barnes parents (representative and socio-economically integrated) met the morning of May 16 to discuss Superintendent Collins' recent proposals for "socio-economic integration". There had been a lot of focus on the Ward 1 parents who are upset. What no one seems to be focusing on is that under all of the superintendent's proposals, Barnes is essentially closed as an elementary school for people in our neighborhood, and those of us who live on the West side of the ONE would be redistricted to either Edmunds or Champlain Schools (although which one is difficult to tell as the administration keeps changing the maps).

We agreed on a set of principles, listed below:

1. Barnes, and the other Elementary Schools should remain K-5 schools
2. We should preserve the concept of Neighborhood Schools that children and their parents can walk to
3. We should work to make the three downtown schools attractive to all parents
-possible ideas: Themed Schools (Sustainable, Arts & Music, etc) that build on what are schools are already doing.
-invest in infrastructure (maintain and green-up our schools)
4. We should carefully examine the costs and benefits of selling any current school property (Ira Allen and Taft)

We know that many people have very positive ideas that could fit into the above. We are very concerned that the current proposal alienates parents while selling district property that will result in a net short-term cost to the district.

We are holding a press conference at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22 at Barnes to share the above concerns and principles. We will then be meeting at 4 p.m. to walk from Barnes to Ira Allen for the 5 p.m School Board meeting (1.5 miles—a shorter distance than Barnes to Champlain Elementary).