There are a number of details that go into sending your child to school. On this page we’ve tried to compile frequent questions that our administration receives to help provide the answers for you. Think of something that would be helpful to include here? Let us know!
What is a Magnet School?
According to the United States Department of Education, magnet refers to a public elementary or secondary school or program that has one of three goals as its focus:
- It is designed to attract students from diverse social, economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds.
- It aims to create an academic focus or social focus on a chosen theme
- It aims to do both of the above simultaneously
A magnet school has the same governance structure as any other public school and the same tuition (i.e., none). It follows the same laws and regulations, and its teachers, administrators and other staff are required to have state certification. Magnet schools focus on a specific subject, such as science or the arts or follow specific themes, such as business/technology or communications/humanities/law. Some magnet schools require students to take an exam or demonstrate knowledge or skill in the specialty area to qualify to go to the school, while others are open to any student who expresses an interest in that area.
How is a Magnet School different from a Traditional Public School?
One of the main differences is that magnet schools are schools of choice. While magnet schools tend to be designed to attract students from diverse social, economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds, traditional public schools tend not to have this as an over-riding design element. In addition, magnet schools tend to have an academic focus or social focus on a chosen theme, while traditional public schools do not.
Who can attend Burlington’s Magnet Schools?
Anyone who lives in the Burlington School District may attend the magnet schools. Depending on space availability, students living outside the Burlington School District may apply and, if accepted, choose to pay tuition to attend either magnet school.
How does the application process work?
Information about registering for any of our elementary schools can be found here. For students already enrolled in any of the Burlington elementary schools one simply needs to complete this magnet school application and mail or bring it in to any of our schools or to our Central Office at 150 Colchester Ave, Burlington, VT 05401.
What are the Magnet School choices in Burlington?
In Burlington, students have two choices of magnet schools: the Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler (IAA) and the Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes (SA).
At IAA, students learn through the lens of the four art forms: movement, drama, music and visual arts. More information cana be found at www.iaa.bsdvt.org.
At SA, students learn through the lens of sustainability – by exploring our diverse society, our local economy and the environment through hands-on projects. More information can be found at www.sa.bsdvt.org.
What research is there about Magnet Schools?
During the planning stages of creating our magnet schools, we gathered the following research around this question.
Other useful links include this one from the US Dept. of Education titled: Work with Parents & the Community – Innovations in Education: Creating Successful Magnet School Programs.
Click here for an article about magnet schools in educationbug.org.
Another useful link is this site for Magnet Schools of America.
Education for sustainability is learning that links knowledge, inquiry, and action to help students build a healthy future for their communities and the planet. It helps teachers bridge grade levels and subject areas, curriculum and school operations, and parent and community partnership.
The Sustainability Academy is the first K-5 Magnet school centered around sustainability and serves as a model for the state of Vermont and beyond. Reports from an independent evaluation team conclude that the sustainability work has improved student engagement (especially for students with special needs), increased community engagement in schools, and presented new opportunities for family involvement.
Students at the Sustainability Academy follow district and state-mandated curriculum, but this curriculum is approached through the lens of sustainability. Please visit the webpage of a teacher at your child’s grade level.
Sustainability is deeply integrated into the curriculum, campus practices and culture at the Sustainability Academy. Each grade-level team plans curriculum around a year-long essential question focused on sustainability and creates lessons that embed the Big Ideas of Sustainability into reading, writing, math, social studies, and science. Each teacher has a Sustainability Curriculum Map that is aligned with the Burlington School District Curriculum Map. In addition, sustainability is integrated into Art, P.E. Music and Library classes, providing a whole-school approach to Sustainability Education.
School Meals: The Burlington School Food project provides the children at the Sustainability Academy with the healthiest and most nutritious food options while cultivating a rich environment for food education. Home to one of the top Farm to School programs in the nation, the Burlington School Food Project continues to set healthy food trends that positively affect our students and our community.
School Gardens: Each classroom at the Sustainability Academy has a raised garden bed to use in cultivating flowers and vegetables. The kitchen staff has access to herb and vegetable gardens for use in preparing school meals. We hope to create an indoor community herb garden at the entrance to the school. Blueberry and Raspberry bushes provides fruit for the school community. Our gardens situated in the back of the school offer a bounty of plants and a common area in which community members often gather. October was Farm to School Month – we were honored to host the press conference in our outdoor classroom. It was our pleasure to serve lunch to all of our distinguished guests! Read more about it here. More photos can be seen here. Stay tuned for our Farmers’ Market which is run by students from the Outdoor Classroom space on the south side of our campus.
Composting and Recycling: In 2014, the Sustainability Academy earned “Recycling Hero” status as part of the Green Schools Alliance “International Green Cup Recycling Challenge.” Locally our school placed first in the Trash on Lawn Day results compiled by our partners from the Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD). Students and staff use resources responsibly by composting and recycling. We have on-site composting and a constantly evolving recycling program that requires students to think about ways in which we can improve our consumption and disposal of products.
Outdoor Classroom: At the SA, education takes place all around us and our outdoor classroom reflects this. In use year-round, the main outdoor classroom is located behind the school next to the perennial garden, but there are several other mini classroom spaces around our campus. The main structure is made with reclaimed barn timber assembled with the help of ReSource Vermont and Youth Build. Furnished with hand-crafted benches, reused cable reel tables and a scotch pine picnic table the outdoor classroom provides inspiring meeting places for the school and the community.
Burlington Kids offers a vibrant after-school program at SA from dismissal to 5:30pm. Please be aware that, at times, students are placed on a waiting list due to over-enrollment.
If a student needs to be absent from school call the main office at 864-8480 by 8:30am. If there are changes to a student’s after-school arrangements, call no later than 1pm. Every school has an attendance policy based on Vermont State Law that requires students to attend every day. Students may be absent from school for the following reasons.
- Medical appointment
- Pre-approved absence for educational purposes, such as college visit or family trip. Parents must submit the Request for Extended Absence form in advance.
- Scheduled court appearance
- Religious holiday
- Death in the family
- Other family emergency
- Weather or traffic accident – at discretion of principal
Please call Monica, in the main office (802-864-8480), as a first stop for any questions you may have. There are also occasionally information sessions about the Sustainability Academy. Please contact us to learn more about upcoming information sessions.
Breakfast: Begins at 7:45am in the cafeteria. Breakfast is free for all Burlington students. No sign-up is required; students may come in any day. Adult breakfast is $1.75. Snack: Snack is available to all children in the classroom for free, and is served approximately 90 minutes before lunchtime. Lunch: Students have a variety of options to choose from during lunch. Choices include a salad bar, sandwich options, and hot lunch. Menus are posted on the website at the beginning of each month. Prepaying for lunch is the preferred method of payment. Meal accounts help make lunch lines go much faster. Cash is accepted as well. The price of lunch for 2016-17 is: Student lunch $2.25 Milk only $.50 Adult lunch $3.75 There are two ways to add money to a lunch account: 1. Mail or send in a check made payable to BSD food service. 2. Go to mySchoolBucks.com, register for a free account, and pay online. All families are expected to complete the application for free or reduced lunch, because the Burlington School Food Project is pursuing new funding sources. All form information provided by families is confidential.
The Burlington School District contracts with Green Mountain Transit to run School Trippers for our students. These buses go to most neighborhoods. Riding the School Tripper bus is free for students living more than 0.7 miles away; otherwise the cost is $.60. Bus passes are distributed to qualifying students in early October.
All morning and afternoon schedule times for route throughout Burlington are available on the GMT website. Buses arrive at school at approximately 7:45am. Buses depart school by 2:55pm, except Wednesday when buses depart at 1:55pm. Mountain Transit follows neighborhood-special routes on Wednesdays.
Expectations on the Bus
Students are expected to follow all bus rules while riding. Buses have cameras to record both video and audio. Champlain administration will review the tapes if a concern arises. Violating bus rules may result in short- or long-term suspension, and families will need to arrange their own transportation.
1. Respect other students and the driver.
2. Remain seated while the bus is in motion.
3. Listen and obey the driver’s instructions at all times.
4. Keep your heads, hands, and arms to yourself and, most importantly, inside the bus.
5. Do not throw objects on the bus or out the windows.
6. Use a quiet voice.
7. All school rules apply to the bus and at bus stops.
Parents can communicate with the school via email or phone throughout the school day. When calling for a teacher, the office will take a message and relay it in a timely manner. We are committed to responding to families in a respectful, responsive manner within a reasonable amount of time. Student progress will be communicated during conferences (held in November and March), and demonstrated on report cards three times a year (November, March, and June).
If students or parents have a concern, the first step is bringing this to the attention of the school employee directly involved. For example, if concerned about a student’s grade, the student or parent/guardian addresses it with the classroom teacher. To appeal the teacher’s decision, the next step is meeting with the principal. Please be aware that any requests from students and parents for a particular teacher cannot be honored. Ongoing concerns should be addressed with the principal or by using the conflict resolution process to resolve the conflict. The parent or student may appeal the principal’s decision to the Burlington superintendent of schools.