Another benefit to Burlington Public Schools is our participation in the LABBB collaborative. I had my first board meeting on Friday October 3rd and I learned a great deal. Burlington was one of the originating partners in LABBB. In fact, the original program in 1974 was simply called LAB – Lexington, Arlington, and Burlington. The first three programs consisted of Pre-vocational /Vocational in Lexington, a Behavioral Intervention Program in Arlington, and a Preschool for multiply involved students in Burlington. All three programs are still operating to serve children. The oldest graduate is in his late 50’s. Clearly by working together the three original towns could provide higher quality options and keep children close to home.
Over the years, LAB has grown from the original members to LABBB with the addition of Bedford in 1979 and Belmont in 1996. Currently, LABBB is serving over 350 students ages 3 to 22 from 65 districts. These students occupy 33 classrooms across 13 buildings. The vocational training program operates 18 sites in companies and schools where LABBB students go to work every day.
As one of the newest members of the LABBB Board, I was curious about how our partner districts view the LABBB programs. I was encouraged to hear that we all believe these important programs are an extension of our own district programs. Our regional efforts only enhance our own offerings. Moreover, by cooperating as a regional we save space. Specifically in Burlington, our new Memorial school proposal would need to be even larger if we brought all of our regional LABBB students back in to district programs – never mind the cost of establishing all of these programs from scratch.
The district does, however, continuously look at the costs of these programs. When Burlington has a critical mass of students, it can make sense for us to establish a program of our own. Burlington’s Integrated Preschool is a great example of Burlington expanding our own high quality programming and saving money. The open dialog and student-centered partnership with LABBB encourages this type of communication and program evolution that leads to continuous improvement.
Another recent LABBB development is the hiring of an Executive Director – Patric Barbieri. Patric provides the needed leadership and link to the five regional communities. He also helps ensure that local programs and LABBB programs work seamlessly and serve students and parents well. I will be asking Patric to write periodic guest posts on the blog throughout the year.
On a personal note, I learned a great deal from my fellow LABBB Board members. Their experience and expertise will only help me to improve my own skills. It is great to have a job-alike group to challenge one’s thinking and to share ideas.