MBS District News December 17, 2020

Message from the Superintendent

MBS Family:

We have nearly made it through the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year. Amid a worsening pandemic, that is no small accomplishment. All of us at Mountain Brook Schools are looking forward to resting and spending time with family over the upcoming Winter Break, and we know you are as well.

But while we attempt to catch our collective breath, we also will be preparing for the second semester. As you know, the number of positive coronavirus cases and associated quarantine cases in our school district has increased exponentially in recent weeks. Today, we have 81 positive cases and 189 quarantine cases among our students, faculty, and staff.

While we still believe that students are safest in school, these numbers cause concern as we enter a holiday season that historically has featured large social gatherings in our community. In the coming weeks, we need your help to slow the spread so that our students can stay in school.

MBS reminds you to be vigilant in masking, distancing, and practicing good hygiene. We also urge you to avoid large social gatherings. Many of the positive cases reported in our school system are the result of non-school-related activities and family contacts, and we know the number of events occurring in our community is directly contributing to the rapid case growth we are experiencing.

While we are preparing for multiple scenarios, our second semester start date of Jan. 6 remains unchanged. We will, however, continue to monitor our data — including staffing availability and community infection rates — and communicate with the Jefferson County Department of Health throughout the break. We will share any possible updates as information becomes available.

Please know that our school system’s abiding priority is to ensure the health and safety of our school community while providing an effective, challenging, and engaging education for every one of our students. If you have any questions, please email covid19questions@mtnbrook.k12.al.us.

We hope you have a great break.


Dicky Barlow, Ed. D.

COVID-19 Testing and Reporting

Please see the flyer below to learn more about the COVID-19 testing opportunity available to members of our school community. Interim Healthcare will be offering testing on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays over Winter Break. If you need to report a positive coronavirus case or quarantine over the break, please use the MBS COVID Winter Break Reporting Form. You can access this form on all Mountain Brook Schools websites, as well as through the link included in this newsletter.

We will review the submitted information periodically throughout the break and use it to help inform our planning for the second semester. Starting Jan. 3, families should begin contacting their school nurse directly via email to report positive or quarantine cases. If you have COVID questions during Winter Break, please contact the Jefferson County COVID Line at 205-903-1208.

Employees Receive Special Compensation Checks

On Dec. 10-11, the Mountain Brook Schools leadership team handed out well-deserved special compensation checks to all full-time employees for their extraordinary contributions to students and the school system during the coronavirus pandemic. The Mountain Brook Board of Education approved a resolution at its November meeting to provide every full-time employee with a one-time payment of $500.

The resolution resulted from many discussions between Mountain Brook Schools Superintendent Dr. Dicky Barlow and school board members. In recent months, they considered how they might compensate employees for going above and beyond to meet myriad challenges.

“The effects of the pandemic have challenged professionals in education in overwhelming ways,” BOE President Nicky Barnes said. “The Board is beyond impressed with how these challenges have been met by our amazing employees. Amidst the pains and trials that have been endured, it was nice to be able to bring a little joy. We were happy to be able to show our appreciation for all the hard work they are putting in.”

Meet our MBS Teachers of the Year

Mountain Brook Schools has selected its Teachers of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year. Members of each school community nominate and select their Teacher of the Year, who then represents their school in the Alabama Teacher of the Year program.

The Mountain Brook Board of Education recognized each honoree at its Dec. 14 meeting.

“Our Teachers of the Year represent the best of Mountain Brook Schools,” MBS Superintendent Dr. Dicky Barlow said. “They are talented professionals who excel at their craft, inspire their peers, and care for their students. We could not be prouder of them.”

Brookwood Forest Elementary: Jolie Welner, 5th Grade Math Teacher
Cherokee Bend Elementary: Lizzie Vansant, Literacy Coach
Crestline Elementary: Rebecca Pigg, 2nd Grade Teacher
Mountain Brook Elementary: Suzanne Andrews, 5th Grade Science Teacher
Mountain Brook Junior High: Wendy Spiller, 7th Grade Advanced Math Teacher
Mountain Brook High School: Rhonda Aust, 10th Grade Advanced Chemistry Teacher

MBCSF Pledges Additional Funds to MBS

The Mountain Brook City Schools Foundation gives an annual grant to Mountain Brook Schools to support professional development, technology, and library enhancements across the district.

Originally, the Foundation allocated $461,843 to MBS for the 2020-2021 school year based on a set spending policy from its Endowment Fund. But to further aid the school system as it strives to meet student needs amid the coronavirus pandemic, the MBCSF Board of Directors has pledged an additional $300,000 in grant funding for a total of $761,843 this year.

“The Mountain Brook City Schools Foundation exists to support our school system beyond the scope of traditional school funding, especially during times of crisis,” MBCSF Executive Director Rachel Weingartner said. “This investment by our community helps make Mountain Brook Schools so special.”

Thanks to donor support, the Foundation stood ready to fulfill a special request from MBS Superintendent Dr. Dicky Barlow regarding technology and teacher training resources. A portion of the extra allocation has already funded the purchase of 500 web and document cameras for classrooms that will allow for more in-depth learning opportunities.

“These new document cameras and web cams will allow us to replace equipment we have had in place since 2007,” MBS Director of Technology Suzan Brandt said. “Our new document cameras work with included software to enhance teacher instruction and provide additional tools for annotating on documents and recording instructional videos.”

The Foundation has played a critical role in supporting MBS throughout the pandemic. Past grants have eased the shift to online learning by enabling the district to strengthen technology infrastructure, invest in the Seesaw student engagement platform, and supply students and teachers with Chromebooks.

Since its inception in 1992, MBCSF has awarded more than $8 million to MBS.

“We are so grateful for the Foundation’s continued, unwavering support,” Barlow said. “The contributions it has made to the school system have allowed us to serve our students and ensure the continued provision of an effective, challenging, and engaging education through a very difficult season.”

You can learn more about the Foundation or make a tax-deductible donation at mbgives.org.

Winter Break is Dec. 21 to Jan. 5. We hope everyone enjoys a healthy and happy holiday season!