1. Sick leave policy amendment reading postponed

At its meeting Monday, the Burlington School Board tabled the first reading of an amendment to Board Policy 404.6, which deals with sick leave. The amendment states employees may not return from medical leave without medical certification from a licensed physician attesting to their ability to "execute the physical, mental and visual efforts as required by the applicable job description."

Superintendent Pat Coen suggested the reading be tabled after Liz Sanning, a science teacher at the high school who spoke during the public comments section, requested clarification on whether the amendment pertains to the Family Medical Leave Act or paid sick leave. She pointed out the two are very different legally speaking.

Human Resources Director Jeremy Tabor was at home sick himself, and Coen said tabling the amendment would allow for concerns to be addressed before going any further.  

2. Preschool desk audit

Burlington is one of few districts in the state piloting the preschool desk audit. Data showing the preschool's impact across 10 criteria and 32 subcategories oftentimes must be submitted to the Iowa Department of Education electronically. Curriculum Director Sharon Dentlinger said that can be difficult to demonstrate with 4-year-olds, so they take a lot of pictures.

The photos show children playing, learning and doing manipulative activities, such as holding a crayon, that demonstrate development. She said how students put things into context is documented as well. 

Dentlinger said the preschool itself can help students and families along in child development, especially because exposure to literature prior to preschool is an indicator of their success in third grade, when literacy becomes vital to learning. 

3. Freshmen academy

David Reese, an associate principal at Burlington High School who deals primarily with ninth-grade students, and high school teacher Amy Morgan, updated the board on the Ninth-Grade Academy.

New this year, the academy's goal is to get students thinking more proactively as freshmen. Students are exposed to "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Students" during their Transition class, though the impact goes beyond just one classroom. 

Eleven teachers involved in the academy meet each day to bridge classroom concepts, such as aligning the way they teach their students to write, review data and align curricula.

Reese said putting more resources into students their freshmen year reduces drop-out rates.