District Level Communication

Last Updated: 5/21/2020 1:24 AM

A Message from the Superintendent -- May 27, 2020

As the 2019-2020 school year comes to a rather unconventional close, I wanted to thank you all once again for your patience and flexibility. 

The last few months have been challenging. The impact on our schools will be lasting in many ways. 

Learning Pathways
Last week, we shared our new Learning Pathways Initiative with families. The goal of this initiative is to empower families to choose a learning pathway that best meets the needs of their individual family. 

Parents and students will be able to select from three learning pathways beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. The Learning Pathways include:

  • Traditional School with Technology Integration Model
  • Online/Cyber School Model
  • Hybrid Model (secondary)

If you have not already, please complete this survey by Friday, May 29 to let us know which Learning Pathway you are interested in for your child(ren). https://forms.gle/Lea9r6fyYtkxSJxN7

We recognize there is still a lot of unknown information that could impact your decision. For now, please select the Learning Pathway you think will best meet the needs of your child, keeping in mind that you can change pathways this summer and through the school year, as needed. You will not be locked in to whatever pathway you select on the survey. However, it will help us gauge how many families are interested in each of the Learning Pathways. Knowing that information will be an asset in helping us plan effectively. We will share more specific details about each of the Learning Pathways over the summer. 

CDC Guidelines
A few parents have inquired about the CDC guidelines for the reopening of schools that were released last week and how they will impact our school district. We have reviewed the guidelines and have concerns. However, based on our experience so far, this type of information will likely change before the start of school. We will continue to monitor the guidelines and requirements from the CDC, Governor Wolf and PDE, and keep our families informed if/when we have to make any changes to the daily operation of our schools. 

Employee Re-entry Working Groups
Our goal is to be able to provide our students with an exceptional academic foundation in a safe environment. Therefore, we have established employee re-entry working groups to help develop plans for various scenarios to ensure we are prepared to support our students. The Re-entry Working Groups include: 

  • Infrastructure
  • Instruction
  • Learning Pathways
  • Resources
  • Stakeholders/Communication
  • Operations

End of the School Year
As we wrap up the school year next week, our principals, central office administrators and staff members will be busier than normal as they coordinate the pick up and drop off of school materials and student belongings, work with teachers to close down their classrooms and facilitate our mini-diploma ceremonies for our seniors. Please keep in mind we may be slower than normal to return emails and phone calls. We appreciate your patience. 

Looking Ahead
When we started the 2019-2020 school year, I don’t think anybody imagined this is how it would end. I’m so proud of our students -- particularly our seniors -- who have worked so hard to make the best of this challenging situation.

Our Senior Awards Night will air tonight (May 27). Every year, this event leaves me speechless. The generosity and support from our community is remarkable. Although I would have much rather celebrated these incredible students in person, I’m still excited that we are able to share their accomplishments with all of you. If you miss the live broadcast, you can still watch the ceremony here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u60QhP_bgmw&feature=youtu.be
Note: The YouTube link will not be active until 7 pm on May 27.

Once again -- thank you to all of the students, parents, faculty, staff and community members for their commitment to our school community in good times and in challenging times. Our future is bright thanks to each of you. 

Sincerely, 


Brian J. White, Jr., Ed.D.
Superintendent
Butler Area School District

A Message from the Superintendent -- May 20, 2020

The 2019-2020 school year is not yet over, but we are already starting to plan for next year. The COVID-19 school closures have dramatically changed the landscape of public education. As a result, we must reimagine who we are and how we serve students and families to provide the learning they need moving forward in our evolving society.

As we plan, our driving theme is to empower parents and students to make decisions that are the best for their individual situation. Parents and students will be able to select from three learning pathways beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. 

The Learning Pathways include: 

  • Traditional School with Technology Integration Model
  • Online/Cyber School Model
  • Hybrid Model (secondary)


Click to review more information about Learning Pathways>

Once you have reviewed the information, we would appreciate it if you would share your preference for your child(ren) with us. https://forms.gle/Lea9r6fyYtkxSJxN7. If you do not select a pathway, your child(ren) will automatically be enrolled in the Traditional School Model.

This information will be used to help us effectively plan for the upcoming year. We recognize there is still a lot of unknown. Therefore, we are creating flexibility in our plans that will enable parents and students to change their path over the summer or any time during the upcoming school year. 

Thank you for your continued flexibility and support!


Brian J. White, Ed.D.
Superintendent
Butler Area School District

A Message from the Superintendent -- May 2, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians of Students in Grades K-6,

I would like to thank all of the parents and guardians who have had to step into the role of home educator over the last few weeks. Our teachers have been working very hard to design meaningful and well thought-out learning lessons. However, for the parents and guardians of younger students and those students who need direction, support and encouragement, this has taken a tremendous amount of effort on your part.

Each student is different, each family is different. For some of our families this entire experience has been overwhelming. Other families have asked for more instruction and more learning. Finding the balance is a challenge.

I have talked to numerous parents who are being pulled in many directions. Some are trying to maintain their own job, others are trying to keep a business afloat. Some are trying to manage multiple children and others are flying solo with children who need significant support. Your efforts have left me in awe.

Our goal is not to exacerbate an already difficult situation. Each child is unique and is adapting to this situation differently. Each family has their own circumstances.

At the elementary level (grades K-6), I have received a number of inquiries from parents and guardians who have asked us if their child will be automatically promoted to the next grade -- even if they do not complete the work.

The short answer is that no elementary students will be retained because of the COVID-19 circumstances. Sometimes it is necessary to retain a child at a grade level. Our elementary principals had already reached out to the parents of students who may benefit from being retained at grade level prior to our school closure. No new grade level retentions will be initiated by the school district for this year.

As parents, I am asking all of you to please do the very best you can to support your children in keeping up with their assignments. However, I also want to encourage you to be mindful about the emotional toll this is having on you and your child.

If your child is falling behind, encourage them. If encouragement turns to frustration or anger, please stop. Let your child’s teacher know. Parents, teachers and principals are empowered to work collaboratively to adjust expectations and differentiate to meet the student’s needs, but we need to be aware of your situation in order to help.

The work your child is doing remotely will help us determine how to adjust our curriculum for next year and what academic supports we need to put in place. However, remote learning assignments and assessments will not be used to determine if your child should be retained or promoted to the next grade.

At the end of the day, our goal is to do what is best for each individual student socially, emotionally and academically, and ensure our students are prepared for success.

Again, I applaud you for all of your incredible efforts.

Thank you,

Brian J. White, Ed.D.
Superintendent
Butler Area School District

 

A Message from the Superintendent -- April 21, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians:

I hope you and your families are well. We have a few updates that I would like to share with you.

2019-2020 School Calendar
On Monday evening, we adjusted the school district calendar for the current school year (2019-2020). The adjustments are a result of designating the Act 80 and Flexible Instructional Days (FID) that have already occurred.

We have designated a half day per week as Act 80 to reflect the ongoing professional development that is occurring. This does not reflect any new expectations or schedule changes for students and families.

We have also designated the first week of June as Act 80. No instruction will occur during this time, however, we do intend to allow students to submit previously assigned work through the first week of June.

May 8 was originally scheduled to be an in-service day, but it will now be a remote instruction day for all students.

All of these changes mean the last day of remote instruction for students will be May 29, 2020.


Personal Belongings Left at School
When our students left school in March, I don’t think anyone anticipated that we would not return this school year. Therefore, we know there are personal belongings at school that need to be returned to our students.

We are working on a plan to coordinate the pick up of personal belongings in May. We will share more information closer to the date as we learn how any social distancing guidelines that may still be in place will impact this process.

In the meantime, if your child has something at school that they absolutely need, such as medication, please contact your child’s principal.

Food Service
We continue to provide meals to children in our district during the school closure. The meals are free for any child (18 and younger) who resides in our district. Your child does not have to be eligible for free or reduced lunch to receive a meal.

Meals can be picked up at either the Center Avenue Community School or the Emily Brittain Community Partnership and Demonstration School between 11 am and 1 pm. If needed, we will also deliver.
Visit our website for more information and to register. You only have to sign up one time and your child will receive meals for the duration of the closure. Click to register: https://www.basdk12.org/Content2/1608

Budget Statement
We anticipate this being a very challenging budget year. Many of our families are struggling, many of the businesses in our school district are closed and none of us truly knows what the future holds.

It is times like these that we as a school district must both contain and reduce our costs. The district will be developing a proposed budget that does not increase taxes. This may cause us to make difficult choices. We will continue to focus on our students as we make these difficult decisions.

In addition, we continue to monitor both the state and national education funding initiatives that may impact our budget.

Thank you for your continued patience and support.

Sincerely,

Brian J. White, Jr., Ed.D.
Superintendent
Butler Area School District

A Video Message from the Superintendent -- April 9, 2020

Dear Butler Area School District Parents and Guardians:

Dr. White has a video message that we would like to share with you. You can watch it here: https://www.basdk12.org/Content2/1668

We want to thank all of our students, parents, employees and community members for working together to help each other during this unprecedented time.  This morning we were notified that the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education has ordered the closure of all of Pennsylvania public schools for the remainder of the school year. We will continue with our current plans.  

This means that the school district will continue to operate in a modified manner to support our students and community at large.  Our focus has been to provide students meals, connect students with mental health services, provide remote learning opportunities and convert the Broad Street School into a surge medical facility to support Butler Hospital and Butler County.

Visit our website to watch Dr. White's video message. If you are unable to view the video, you can also read his message on our website. https://www.basdk12.org/Content2/1668

We hope you all have a great spring break!

A Message from the Superintendent -- March 30, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians: 

Governor Wolf announced today that all Pennsylvania schools are “closed until further notice.” This means we no longer have a target date for reopening our schools this school year. While it may still be possible that we receive direction to reopen, we are also preparing for the possibility that our schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year. 

We will continue to provide “continuity of education” -- enrichment and review. Elementary assignments will be posted to our website each week and secondary assignments will be sent to student email addresses by individual teachers. Students are encouraged to participate as much as possible. They may earn credit for participating, but they will not be penalized if they are unable to complete assignments. 

Our goal is to work toward “planned instruction” for all students, especially now that school is closed until further notice. Our plan is to start this for students in grades 9-12 first. If we implement planned instruction, this means students in grades 9-12 will be required to complete their assignments from home. The goal is to keep our high school students on track with their coursework and ultimately, enable our seniors to graduate this year.

Once we have implemented planned instruction in grades 9-12 we will be working on implementing planned instruction for additional grade levels. We will keep families updated when we begin to transition from “enrichment and review” to “planned instruction.”

In order to best meet the needs of our students during this school closure, our teachers are using various resources and platforms to offer instruction and support. This includes the use of Google Classroom as a way to facilitate the creation of classes, post assignments, and organize information for students. 

Please note that through this program, all students participating will be able to see each other’s names and student email address. If you are not comfortable with your child being added to a Google Classroom, please reach out to your child’s teacher/s to review other options of program delivery.  

Please take a minute to review our full confidentiality agreement, which is posted here: https://www.basdk12.org/Content2/1654.

Thank you for your continued patience and flexibility. 


Sincerely, 

Brian J. White, Jr., Ed.D.
Superintendent
Butler Area School District

A Message from the Superintendent -- March 27, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians:

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania updated the “School Code” to provide more direction as well as flexibility to Pennsylvania’s public schools. The updates include suspending the 180 day requirement for the 2019-2020 school year. It also mandates that we provide a “continuity of education” plan.  

So what does this mean for the Butler Area School District? 

The state has given school districts two options for providing the mandated “continuity of education.” One option is “planned instruction” and the other option is “enrichment and review.”

Butler Area School District is proceeding with “enrichment and review” for all students.  We will continue to provide learning opportunities for all students. Although they are not mandatory, we  strongly encourage students to participate in as many of the learning opportunities as possible. 

We know this situation has been extremely difficult. Ultimately, it is up to parents to determine what level of participation is appropriate for their children. 

Will this impact my child’s grade? 

Students who are unable to participate in the learning opportunities will not be penalized.  Those who do participate will be able to earn credit to improve their grades.  

The third grading period will now close on April 9, 2020. 

What about high school students? Will they earn credit? Will seniors graduate? 

We hope to keep our seniors on schedule for graduation and will do everything we can to accomplish that.  We also want to make sure all of our high school students earn the credits they need. It may mean that we move to “planned instruction” for students in grades 9-12 at some point in the future. More details about what that means will be shared if/when that occurs. In the meantime, I strongly encourage all secondary students to take advantage of this opportunity to raise your grades and make sure you have earned all required credits.

What about if my child receives Special Education Services?    

If your child is a student that receives Special Education Services, the supports reviewed by your child’s IEP team this past week will be implemented to the greatest extent possible, if you choose to participate.  If your family chooses to opt out of these supports, upon our return to a typical school program, your child’s IEP team will reconvene to establish a plan to address any skills that may have been lost during the closure.  

Are we returning to school this year? 

I know many of us are hopeful that we will get to return to school. However, for many families, that may not be what you prefer.  If we are able to return to school this year, we will also maintain a remote learning/online option for families that would prefer to finish out the year at home. 

Much of this is just planning for various possible solutions. As of today, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania said that our students may return to school on April 9th. However, since we received that information, we have been told to prepare for the possibility of an extended closure, though nothing official has been determined. I will continue to share any updates I receive with our community. 

Will this extended closure impact next school year?

I am also working on revising next year’s school calendar (2020-2021) to increase the number of student instructional days with the goal of providing additional instructional time. I believe this is the best way for most of our students to make up some of the instruction lost due to this closure.

Will you tell us if people within our district have been diagnosed with COVID-19?

I have received questions asking about COVID-19 cases and requests for information. I understand this is concerning for all of us. However, the district does not receive privileged medical information unless a parent/guardian or an employee informs us.  Even then, we don’t always get documentation to support reports of medical issues. 

What if I have a question about a COVID-19 case or the possibility of exposure?

Should you have a concern or hear a rumor, you should contact  Butler County at 724-431-0982. That number is the general information line for citizens to call regarding COVID-19  The hours are currently 8:30 am-4:30 pm Monday thru Friday. 

As always, thank you for your continued patience and support. 

Sincerely, 

Brian J. White, Jr., Ed.D.
Superintendent
Butler Area School District


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