Burlington Early Learning Initiative
For more than a year, my Administration has been laying the groundwork for an exciting and ambitious new initiative here in Burlington. The effort reflects advances in research on brain development in recent years and the successful experiences of others cities in addressing some of the challenges faced by children born into poverty. The effort, known as the Burlington Early Learning Initiative, is focused on improving kindergarten readiness for Burlington children, reducing special education and other public spending over time, and breaking the cycle of multi-generational poverty. Our goal in launching a Burlington Early Learning Initiative is nothing short of ensuring that all Burlington children have the opportunity to lead full, healthy, and successful lives.
The effort officially kicked off in February at the Visiting Nurse Association’s Family Room with the Governor, representatives from the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children, the State Department of Health, the Burlington School District (BSD), the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), Building Bright Futures, the Boys & Girls Club, and many others. We announced that the Permanent Fund had committed to a major, $122,000 grant to move the multi-year pilot initiative from concept to implementation. The pilot has three components: home visiting for pregnant mothers and new parents, scholarships for high-quality child care, and rigorous evaluation. The pilot initiative will support the good work of many care providers already underway in the City and its cost will not be borne by City taxpayers. Over the next few months, an Advisory Board will continue to conduct due diligence on the proposed model and facilitate the implementation of home-visiting by early 2016 and the scholarship model by fall 2016.
Dramatically Improved Audit of the City’s Finances
The City of Burlington Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) audit documents major improvements in the City’s financial position, including the City’s first positive General Fund unassigned fund balance since 2009. The unqualified opinion issued by the auditor represents the first such designation since before the Burlington Telecom (BT) crisis. The auditor found that the City’s internal controls and financial practices have dramatically improved – further evidence that our community’s commitment over the past three years to fixing the City’s finances has resulted in significant improvements to the City’s financial position across the board. While our work to restore the City’s finances is far from done, the improvements we have achieved already are saving Burlingtonians money and, as long as we continue in our current direction, we will keep tens of millions of dollars in the pockets of Burlingtonians instead of transferring them to Wall Street bondholders collecting high interest rates.
Public Process for the Formerly Burlington College Land
After weeks of thoughtful discussions, Eric Farrell – the new property owner – the City, and conservation and affordable housing leaders have all agreed to join in a collaborative planning process to take broad public input regarding the future of this iconic piece of land. As a result, in advance of the permitting process, the community will have an opportunity to have its voice heard on conservation, public access, housing, and other issues. I am hopeful that this process and collaboration will help achieve numerous City goals on this important site.
Burlington Celebrates Its 150th Year
Burlington was officially incorporated as a city on February 21, 1865 – 150 years ago! We gathered as a community on the 21st to celebrate our City’s history and to reflect on where we have been, where we are, and where we are going as a City.
The celebration was also a reminder to me of what an honor it is to serve as your Mayor. Thank you for the privilege and the joy of working for such a passionate and engaged community. As always, I invite you to join me at the Bagel Café on Wednesday mornings from 8:00-9:00 am and at our other frequent community events. To get information about these events and other City news, please visit www.Facebook.com/MiroBTV