Tuesday, December 6, 2016

New UVM Aid Program to Help Limited-Income Students

Posted By on Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 4:30 PM

Ira Allen Chapel, UVM Campus - SEVEN DAYS
  • Seven Days
  • Ira Allen Chapel, UVM Campus
The University of Vermont gave prospective students who live in the Green Mountain State an early Christmas present Tuesday.

Under a new program that will start for the class entering in the fall of 2017, students could benefit from a fill-in-the-gap financial assistance program directed at Vermonters who qualify for federal Pell Grants.

Their UVM tuition would already be covered by financial aid, but that does not cover fees that amount to a sizable sum — about $2,750 annually.

Now that part of the bill will disappear.

The Catamount Commitment guarantees that all Vermonters receiving Pell grants pay no tuition and no comprehensive fee — expected to be $17,732 in the 2017-18 school year.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Coming Soon: Northern Vermont University — Johnson and Lyndon

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2016 at 7:28 PM

Lyndon State College - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Lyndon State College
Welcome to Northern Vermont University — Johnson and Lyndon.

The Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees will vote on that new name Wednesday for the soon-to-be unified state colleges in the two towns.

(Update, 4:30 p.m. November 30: The board voted unanimously to approve the new name.)

Vermont State Colleges chancellor Jeb Spaulding, Johnson State College president Elaine Collins and Lyndon State College interim president Nolan Atkins unanimously recommended the choice to the trustees.

Spaulding, in a memo to the board that was released Tuesday, said the rechristening is meant to be concise, easily marketable and not confused with the University of Vermont.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Legal Review: Kirk Did Not Violate School Board Policy With Facebook Posts

Posted By on Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 1:17 PM

School board member David Kirk - FILE: ALICIA FREESE
  • File: Alicia Freese
  • School board member David Kirk
Burlington School Board member David Kirk did not violate board policy with posts on his Facebook page that many city residents said were racially insensitive and belittling of women and immigrants.

That's the finding of a legal review of the posts, according to school board vice chair Stephanie Seguino. The decision was announced  Thursday night at a board meeting during which the board also released a resolution denouncing and disavowing Kirk's posts.

Kirk did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment and has said little publicly since issuing an apology for the posts last month. The board resolution stated that the Facebook reposting "of racially/gender/and ethnically offensive materials by a member of this board is at fundamental variance with the standards of conduct and example desired by the board for its members."

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Going, Going, Gone: Burlington College’s Stuff Set to Be Auctioned

Posted By on Thu, Nov 3, 2016 at 7:16 PM

Burlington College - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Burlington College
Updated November 7, 2016

When Burlington College closed its doors for good in May, professors and administrators left behind fully furnished offices and classrooms. Now the items remaining at the institution are headed to the auction block.

A public auction is scheduled at the college for 10 a.m. December 7. Bidders can also participate online. People’s United Bank, which foreclosed on the college in the spring, contracted the Morrisville-based Thomas Hirchak Company to conduct the auction. All items — more than 600 lots — will be sold to the highest bidder.

For now, chairs and desks are piled in the vacated classrooms at the North Avenue campus. The library’s shelves are still crammed with books, and artwork leans against one wall. There’s a refrigerator, cameras and video equipment, flatscreen TVs, rugs, and a 3,600-square-foot tent, according to the auction website.

“In some offices, it looks like [professors] could be back tomorrow,” said Burlington College board chair Yves Bradley.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Final Negotiations With Burlington Teachers Underway as Strike Looms

Posted By on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 at 9:33 AM

Burlington teachers picketing last month. - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Burlington teachers picketing last month.
Updated 5:30 p.m.

With a possible strike looming Thursday, the Burlington Education Association and the city school board were in a daylong, last-ditch negotiating session that extended into the evening.

Talks began early Wednesday at the Burlington School District central office on Colchester Avenue, and federal mediator Ira Lobel spent the day going back and forth between the teachers and the school board hoping to bring them together — without immediate success. There was still no resolution as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

“Hopefully he’s working his magic,” said Darren Allen, communications director for the Vermont-NEA, in a telephone interview.

Superintendent of Schools Yaw Obeng said late in the afternoon that schools were “absolutely” still scheduled to open Thursday. Teachers have vowed to strike Thursday morning if no contract deal is reached.

The conflict over pay and benefits has dragged on for more than a year. In September, the school board imposed employment terms that gave teachers an average raise of around 2.75 percent but cut certain perks and increased teachers’ share of health insurance costs.

Teachers saw the board’s move as a power play. They responded with pickets, claims that the board was trying to bust the union, and a vote authorizing a strike Thursday, pending the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Parent: Burlington School Board Member’s Facebook Page 'Spews Forth Hatred'

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 6:56 PM

School board member David Kirk - ALICIA FREESE
  • Alicia Freese
  • School board member David Kirk
Burlington School Board member David Kirk is drawing the ire of some parents who say his Facebook posts are racially insensitive, degrading to women and demeaning to students.

Kirk, who represents Ward 7 in the city's New North End, should resign, said parent Alison Segar, in a post on the Support Our Burlington Schools Facebook page.

"I have just looked at his Facebook page which spews forth hatred towards many of the groups of people represented in our school district. I think we should be calling for his resignation," Segar wrote. "I am embarrassed that he is a representative on our board and that he is part of the decision making process. UGH." 

In a telephone interview with Seven Days, Segar said she wanted to hear what Kirk had to say about the page. But she also vowed to bring to the school board her request that he resign. "I will certainly make my feelings known at the next school board meeting that I can attend," Segar said.

Kirk did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request for comment. 

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Picketing Burlington Teachers Call for Negotiations

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 7:46 PM

Burlington teachers picketing Tuesday. - MOLLY WALSH/SEVEN DAYS
  • Molly Walsh/Seven Days
  • Burlington teachers picketing Tuesday.
Several hundred Burlington teachers raised the volume of their labor dispute with the city school board Tuesday afternoon by staging a rush-hour picket complete with bongo drummers on U.S. 2 near the entrance to Interstate 89.

As drivers honked noisily in support, teachers on both sides of the busy road waved signs reading "Return to the Table." They chanted: "Hey ho, hey ho, imposition has got to go," referring to the employment policy the city school board imposed on them recently.

Burlington Education Association president Fran Brock thanked teachers for rallying together and chastised the imposition of employment terms. 

"Basically it's an evil sort of thing to do," she told the crowd of teachers as they wrapped up the picket shortly after 5 p.m. "They are trying to bust the union and we're not going to let them do it!" Teachers cheered.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Lyndon College Groups Seek Delay, but Merger Vote Is On

Posted By on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 at 7:39 PM

Lyndon State College - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Lyndon State College
Updated at 10 a.m. September 27, 2016 with information about the Lyndon State College Alumni Council.

Lyndon State College faculty and alumni groups are asking the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees to postpone this week’s scheduled vote on a plan to merge Johnson and Lyndon state colleges.

There will be no delay, however, said Tricia Coates, director of external and governmental affairs for Vermont State Colleges.

“We believe the report that the chancellor is submitting to the board will respond to their concerns,” Coates said.

The trustees are scheduled to vote Thursday on a plan to put the two state colleges under one president with one budget and a new name while retaining separate campuses. Faculty, staff and students have expressed concerns that the move is happening too quickly and with questions left unanswered.

Monday, the Lyndon Faculty Assembly sent chancellor Jeb Spaulding and the board a resolution asking for the vote to be delayed.

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UVM Students Rally Day After Black Lives Matter Flag Theft

Posted By on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 at 2:21 PM

Student participants at the Black Lives Matter rally - KYME SARI
  • Kyme Sari
  • Student participants at the Black Lives Matter rally
Updated at 10:45 p.m. September 26, 2016, to add details from the rally.

A diverse sea of students, and even faculty, at the University of Vermont gathered Monday afternoon on campus to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement — at the very spot where a flag with the group’s motto was stolen.

More than 200 people, most dressed all in black, turned out for the “UVM Blackout,” an event planned before the weekend theft of a Black Lives Matter flag from where it flew outside the university’s Davis Center.

Student organizers Haydee Guadalupe Miranda and Akilah Ho-young set the tone of the rally by urging a message of peace. The group held a moment of silence and offered condolences to the families of victims of gun violence such as Trayvon Martin and Keith Lamont Scott, who was killed by police last week in Charlotte, N.C. The crowd went on to take pictures with the Black Lives Matter flag fluttering in the wind beside the Vermont and American flags on campus.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

UVM Renames Medical College for Alumnus After $100 Million in Gifts

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 5:56 PM

Students beam as the new name is unveiled. - SASHA GOLDSTEIN
  • Sasha Goldstein
  • Students beam as the new name is unveiled.

The University of Vermont renamed its medical college to honor an alumnus who has donated a total of $100 million to the school.

Dr. Robert Larner, a Burlington native who went on to have a successful medical career in Los Angeles, committed $66 million to his alma mater in his estate, school administrators said Friday at an event outside the Given Medical Building.

“Let me say that again — I want to be perfectly clear — $100 million in total contributions,” UVM President Tom Sullivan, flanked by medical students in white coats, announced to a standing ovation from a few hundred people who gathered to celebrate the gift.

The UVM board of trustees last week approved the name change to the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

Officials live-streamed Friday’s event so that Larner, his wife, Helen, and their family could watch from across the country.

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