BURLINGTON – A new scheduling format revolving around report cards and parent/teacher conferences at the elementary schools was supported as a pilot by the School Committee.
At its most recent meeting, School Supt. Dr. Eric Conti presented the School Committee with a recommendation for next school year, which was approved as a pilot. The sanction will see two report cards issues in January and June and two parent/teacher conferences take place in November and March during the 2019-2020 school year at all the elementary schools in the district.
Dr. Conti disclosed school officials received 319 responses from parents (242) and teachers (77), resulting in 83 percent declaring support for the change. The existing format at the elementary schools had one parent/teacher conference, not two as proposed.
Questions from parents and teachers focused on the second parent/teacher conference, including aspects like the format and whether they should be optional or mandatory. Dr. Conti stressed numerous times that he prefers the respective elementary school principals work with their staff and administration to help figure out exactly what should be expected at a second conference.
School Committee member Thomas Murphy, Jr. expressed support for the change, acknowledging the decisively favorable responses swayed him.
“I support it, especially with the vast majority of the responses being favorable,” said Murphy.
Vice Chair Christine Monaco sang a different tune, firmly standing against the two report cards and two conferences.
“I am not going to support this. I think parents should have as many conferences as they feel they need,” she lectured. “I cannot support going to two report cards. I could not support three report cards when that was proposed in previous years.”
Burlington Educators’ Association President Diana Marcus commented from the teachers’ perspective, detailing why the teachers support two report cards.
“Having that first report card ready for the first conference so early in the year does not provide sufficient time for teachers to get to know their students,” explained Marcus.
Hearing the conversation, Dr. Conti proposed moving forward with the initiative as a pilot for next year.
“That will allow us to get some feedback as principals work on it with their teachers,” Dr. Conti stated. “Many teachers said to me directly they are already having a second conference with parents at this point.”
The School Committee approved a motion to implement the two report cards and two parent/teacher conferences by a 2-1 vote. Vice Chair Monaco opposed and Chair Martha Simon and member Stephen Nelson were absent from the meeting.
The changes to the elementary schools will go into effect as a 1-year trial run starting next school year, 2019-2020.