Looking forward to meeting new and familiar families at our Kindergarten Information Night!
The Burlington Public Schools will be holding an information night for parents of incoming kindergarten students. At this informational evening, you will learn about what a typical day in kindergarten looks like. We will review registration procedures, kindergarten screening, and overall kindergarten readiness. There will also be time allotted for Q & A. Please join us for this important evening.
Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 (snow date – January 18, 2018)
Location and Time: Burlington High School Auditorium 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Please note: this evening is for parents/guardians only.
In the rush of preparing for a new school year, I have been remiss in introducing the District’s new operations team. The reorganization was triggered by the retirement of our former Director, Craig Robinson. Craig served the Burlington Community for over 20 years in different roles. We are grateful for his service and wish him well in retirement.
It would be difficult to replace Craig’s experience and expertise in a single person so I decided to break up the responsibilities into areas of specialization – Town/School Technology, Finance, Facilities, Food Service, and Transportation. Some of these areas of specialization already existed, but Facilities and Finance were added.
The new Director of Operations has begun overseeing Town/District Technology, Finances, Facilities, Food Service and Transportation. The Director of Operations will continue to oversee the big picture and communicate with the School Committee, School District Employees, General Government, and the Community. The specialized managers of Town/District Technology, Finance, Facilities, and Food Service will have the expertise and focus to be immersed in the day to day specifics of their respective areas of responsibility. We contract out our regular education and special education transportation services.
I am excited to introduce Bob Cunha, our former Director of Town/School Technology as our New Director of Operations. Bob has the experience, relationships, and communication ability to perform well in this new position. Burlington is known for its outstanding technology. Bob has been a big part of this success. I am looking forward to him bringing this track record of success to our overall School District Operations.
In the coming months, Bob will be introducing his individual Team Managers, their backgrounds and responsibilities, and some operations staff members through a District Operations Blog. While the learning side of the District is most important and tends to get all of the attention, our employees involved in operations are incredibly talented and dedicated. They are all critical to our success.
Please follow our new District Operations Blog to get to know our talented staff and for any information and updates you may be interested in learning.
Despite an incredible effort today by the DPW, Park and Recreation, and our custodians, we will not have school on Friday, January 5, 2018. The icy conditions and cold require more time to clear than is available even with a delayed start. We are grateful to have such dedicated employees who work in all weather conditions so that community and schools can continue to function.
We look forward to school on Monday. Even given the weekend, the cold temperatures will mean that there could be icy conditions. Please be careful.
Burlington Public Schools are committed to preparing students with the skills. abilities, and humanness to succeed beyond their preK-12 experience. It is hard for me to grasp that this year’s kindergarten students are the class of 2030…
School success can’t be thought of or measured as we experienced. We must redefine what it means to be successful. We must reach beyond test scores and learning in isolation. We have to prepare students for what they will experience and create. These are exciting times.
Coding/Computer Science is a relatively new foundational skill that we need to make room for in our already crammed curriculum. We have been partners with Code.org’s Hour of Code for all four years. The Burlington challenge is to continue to expand the opportunities for all students to reach proficiency in this evolving way of thinking and problem solving.
Message from Code.org Founder:
On its 4 year anniversary, the Hour of Code passed 500 million served – an incredible accomplishment for all the educators, nonprofits, corporations, and governments that support this global campaign.
Last month, 9 states and 76 school districts announced plans to expand access and diversity in CS. In Los Angeles, the district pledged to teach CS to every student. To celebrate, NBA superstar Chris Bosh visited Bancroft Middle School to speak about his own experience learning to code.
Among tech companies, Microsoft helped create a new edition of the ever-popular Minecraft Hour of Code tutorial, Google changed their logo into a coding tutorial, Apple hosted an Hour of Code in every store and Tim Cook participated at a Shanghai school for the deaf, Amazon Web Services provided the technology platform to host the Hour of Code, and Accenture ran a video about the Hour of Code in Times Square.
We’re also happy to report that international excitement about the Hour of Code remains high: 59% of all Hour of Code events occurred outside of the United States in 2017! We’re so grateful to all of our international partners, teachers, and event organizers who celebrated Computer Science Education Week 2017. Read more about the worldwide impact of the Hour of Code this year.
From an Hour of Code to years of computer science
The Hour of Code is only a start, and 98% of participants said they’re interested in continuing to teach CS beyond one hour. To celebrate CS Education Week, over 31,000 educators made pledges to expand access and diversity in CS in their schools.
Access to computer science not only opens up opportunities, but also inspires creativity and innovation. Middle school students Crystal Reynaga and Angela Garcia Pena used an Adafruit circuit board in their class to develop a GPS connected wristband that pairs with a mobile app to help parents monitor their young children. We were proud to celebrate their accomplishments and the work of so many others this CSEdWeek.
Angela Garcia Pena showing off their wristband
The education system is changing, globally
Just the past few months, countries ranging from Ecuador to the UK to Malaysia have announced plans to expand access or support for computer science.
For example, the United Arab Emirates announced a plan to prepare one million coders. In Albania, Vodaphone offered the entire country free internet access during the Hour of Code to support education. In the UK, the government has committed £100 million to prepare new CS teachers.
This is your impact
Last month I was given the opportunity to speak about this movement on CBS This Morning, and to celebrate a special milestone: 10 million girls on Code.org. I wake up every day thankful to be part of a cause that has such incredible support.
At a time when global news seems dominated by conflict, the rapid adoption of computer science by schools worldwide showcases humanity’s potential for progress. This is thanks to everybody who has come together, from all backgrounds, to support the simple idea that every student in every school deserves the opportunity to learn computer science.
Happy New Year to all of you, and may 2018 have even more good news in store for computer science.
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This blog post will focus on the intention and the outcomes associated with Community Concert Series. The concert series was an idea hatched in my office to expand our curriculum experience, enhance inter-generational learning, and bring the community together around music. The music department helped to implement the idea, but was not responsible for creating the program.
The idea started with our accepting international students at Burlington High School. Seven years ago the district entered into a relationship with a group called Educatius. Educatius places international students with local families and in public school districts. The international students get the benefit of experiencing an American High School. The district and community get the benefit of added friendships, diversity, and tuition.
Burlington High School has accepted 2 to 4 students per year over the last 5 or 6 years. Mr. Sullivan has been careful to select students whom he believes will add to the student experience at BHS. Many of our neighboring districts accept international students as well. We charged these students $14,500 per year in tuition in 2017.
In addition to some capital projects and supporting school lunches, I thought that these non-operating budget resources would be a great resource to expand our high school curriculum to the entire community and help bring the community together through an inter-generational learning experience. Moreover, the community has generously supported upgrades to the BHS Auditorium making it an exceptional place to see a performance. Allowing the entire community to benefit from these facility upgrades was also a factor. To this end, the Community Concert Series was created.
We started slowly with two shows in the first year (2015). We attempted to establish a schedule of 4 shows per year the last two years (2016, 2017). The best example of the curricular connection is demonstrated by the Ella Fitzgerald protege’ performance last February. February is Black history month and 2017 would have been Ella’s 100th birthday. The music department was awarded a Burlington Education Foundation (BEF) grant to bring in an Ella Fitzgerald historian to present at all six schools. This presentation was even delivered prior to the concert. This pre-concert presentation was open to the entire community at no cost. The plan was to have students learn about Ella’s life and music during the day and hopefully attend a live concert of one of her last students in the evening with the rest of the community – like a community-based field trip.
My favorite memory of the community concert series were The Glen Miller Orchestra performances on Mother’s Day. The tribute to veterans in the audience was incredible. I also enjoyed seeing members of the high school jazz band practicing and performing with professional musicians on some of our countries culturally significant music. I hope this experience was a lifetime memory for the students. It certainly will be for me.
The performances were a great way to bring in professional performers to introduce different genres and culture associated with the music our students learn about during the school day. The Glen Miller Orchestra, a Beatles Tribute, a Frankie Valli Tribute, The Lexington Symphony, A Motown Group, A Texas Swing Group, and an Ella Fitzgerald protege’ provided an incredible opportunity for students to locally experience important music alongside their parents and other community members. Another great example is the Lexington Symphony generously taking time to introduce students to all of the instruments in the orchestra – something that they are learning about in school.
The Music Revolving account was the account used because of the ability to sell tickets using the TIX system. I had hoped that over time the attendance would support the cost of booking the groups. My objective was to break even. This goal was not reached. As stated, the intention from the outset was to use the tuition from international students to expand the curriculum and involve the community in this learning opportunity with students since our international guests were all benefiting from their time in Burlington. Tuition dollars were also used to supplement ticket prices to keep the cost around $20 per ticket. The low ticket prices were to encourage seniors to participate in the concerts as the inter-generational aspect of the program was important to the overall vision. The link below details the losses from 2017. In hindsight I should have been more forward about the funding coming from ticket sales and international student tuition.
Like many curriculum ideas, this one did not fully succeed. We did not have enough community members and students participate in the evening events. Clearly this attempt at connecting district curriculum across Town is bringing negative attention to the music department and causing deficits in the music revolving account. Because of this negative attention, I ended the series this year.
As a final comment, I would like to thank John Middleton for volunteering his time, the Music Boosters for providing the meals for the performers and the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce (BACC) for their partnership throughout the Community Concert Series. While the BACC’s overall support of the school district is tremendous, their specific support of the concerts greatly enhanced the experience. The BACC provided refreshments before and during intermission as well as discounted hotel rates for the performers who required accommodations. Thank you.
This post will focus on ticket sales and other cash transactions associated with performing arts productions as well as some Music Booster events. Before describing what has occurred and the changes that are in place, I wanted to express my belief in the individuals who have worked with integrity to support the student experience while at Burlington High School. The findings in the review of the music revolving account are about process. The faculty and staff in Burlington may need to learn new procedures, but I have no doubts about their dedication and honesty.
The Music Department implemented an on-line ticket sales system 9 years ago primarily to remove the responsibility for cash transactions for performances and to keep up with demand. The average number of tickets sold to the BHS Musical is over 3000. Looking at the typical number of transactions for shows, it appears that roughly 80% of the ticket transactions occur without cash using the online system. The cash transactions occur in advance in the music office and the night of the show. These transactions are recorded using the third party TIX online software. Invoices for customers are available upon request.
This year the advanced cash ticket purchasing has been moved to the main office at the high school. This change will allow for cash to be stored in the school’s safe. As always, customer contact information is recorded and a confirmation and reference number is emailed to the customer (provided the customer chooses to share their email address). It is important to note that this customer information only gets recorded during the pre-sale process. Patrons were frustrated with the wait to gather this information on the evenings of the show. In order to save time, walk-in ticket customers the evening of the show were classified as “guests.”
There appears to be some confusion around complimentary, or “comp”, tickets and the number of projected ticket sales with the actual number of tickets and revenue reported.
All faculty and staff members are offered one “comp” ticket. This no cost ticket is provided and recorded in the accounting TIX software. Obviously, we are attempting to encourage faculty and staff members to attend student events.
Secondly, “comp” tickets were printed and sold for last minute customers. Cash and checks were accepted for these tickets. In the past, there would be a line of last minute customers who were in a rush to get a ticket and find a seat before the show started. The single ticket booth was slow to process the transaction. In an attempt to solve this problem, the “TIX” company advised the box office manager to print a row or two of seats to sell. Sometimes, they would print 20 tickets but only sell 10. This created two problems. The first is that these last minute sales were not recorded accurately due to pre-printing tickets with different values and the second problem was that the department would incur a fee for unsold tickets. After further consultation with the TIX representative, it was decided that in order to avoid paying the fee, they should print “comp” tickets. TIX does not charge any fee for comp tickets. This decision saved the school from paying fees for unsold tickets; however, it did not solve the problem of unaccounted ticket income. That is, the money paid for the last minute comp tickets was not recorded in the accounting software (as the ticket was pre-printed). In other words, while the money was added to the revenue and deposited in the revolving account the next business day, there was no record to match the source of the extra cash and checks to a ticket generated in system at the time of sale. Consequently, the number of comp tickets sold on the account print outs might be off by 10 – 20 tickets depending on how close the box office manager’s estimate was at the number of walk up purchases. The amount of this discrepancy would result in extra cash per production being deposited or used for the next cash drawer ($200) because a small number of tickets were pre-printed to help alleviate the rush at the start of a show.
Addressing another finding, the business office has issued a $200 cash drawer for making change instead of this $200 cash drawer being stored in the music office safe. This drawer will be signed out from the business office for any approved events that possibly need to make change.
Going forward, thanks to the new business manager, with support from the IT department and in response to the report, the box office will not pre-print any tickets. All last minute customers will be sold in the same manner as pre-sale tickets. In addition, a second box office sales person will be hired allowing last minute walk up customers to be served in a timely way. These customers will be sold tickets and their cash, checks, or credit will be recorded in the system at the exact price. This will allow the business office the ability to count the deposit and match the accounting reports exactly.
These changes are being implemented for the fall show.
Ticket Revenue Reported:
I received several inquiries as to the number of tickets sold at each musical. The music department has provided an estimate of ticket revenue when preparing a budget for an upcoming production. The department has been conservative with these projections typically projecting a half-filled auditorium at a blended ticket rate. For instance, the average ticket price is $12.50 ($10 Student/Senior, $15 Adult). While most musical performances sell 600 tickets or more per performance, for planning purposes, the department would conservatively assume they would sell at least 450 tickets per performance. This strategy was followed in an attempt to keep expenses in line with expected income. Some comments have interpreted these projections as the final, reported receipts associated with a show. This understanding is not the case.
I have asked the music department not to be involved with projecting revenues in the future as it appears to cause confusion. We do not ask our athletic director to project how many football or hockey tickets will be sold at games. These programs are not dependent on ticket sales. My expectation from the music department moving forward will be to provide a detailed budget of the expenses associated with each production. The school committee can determine whether the budget reflects the type of show the community has come to expect. Any revenues associated with ticket sales can be deposited in the music revolving account and used for instrument upgrades and other programmatic needs in a similar manner to our other programs.
We are grateful to have such an active and supportive music boosters group. We are going to implement a change in how cash and checks are received for Booster Events. The Boosters group is a separate 501C3 non-profit. In the past, students would bring in cash and checks from their parents to the music office for Music Booster events. This money was to pay for Booster events such as award banquets, trips, cast banquets, Gala concert tickets and other Booster fundraisers. Moving forward, we will ask all booster groups and PTO organizations to provide the school with a locked deposit box. Parents can send cash and checks in with their children in a labeled envelope. The envelope will be placed in the locked deposit box. The lock box will be the property and responsibility of the boosters and only the PTO or Booster President and Treasurer will have a key. The Music Department will not sell tickets to the Booster Gala Concert or Banquets. This change addresses another finding from the review.