• ACSD School Board Updates

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  • School Board News - January 2023

    Posted by Emily Blistein on 1/23/2023 10:00:00 AM

    School Board News -- January 2023

    From Victoria Jette

    ACSD Board Chairperson

    Happy New Year and welcome back! I hope everyone in the ACSD Community had a happy and healthy holiday season. The Board jumped right back into its work, focusing primarily on budget development for FY24. The ACSD continues to benefit from significant federal COVID relief money, which has enabled us to provide additional academic intervention and behavioral support in our schools the past two years. This funding will sunset in FY25, which will force the District to make difficult choices on which supports are critical and effective enough to be maintained through the District’s operational budget in the future.

    The Board concluded its goal-setting for the District’s Strategic Plan for Equity in December, and is handing the baton to the Strategic Planning Action Team to translate Board Goals into actionable steps with measurable outcomes. The Action Team includes a diverse group of ACSD stakeholders, including students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community members. Together they will develop the details of the final Strategic Plan for Board approval in June 2023. Please continue to check here for ongoing opportunities to engage in the process.

    As many of you know, Superintendent Peter Burrows has accepted the Superintendent position with Milton Public Schools in Milton, Massachusetts, and is anticipating transition to his new role in July 2023. While we will be sad to see him go, we are proud of the accomplishments ACSD has made under his leadership, and understand his desire to explore new challenges in a larger, more diverse setting. The Board acknowledges the significance of this upcoming change, and is committed to conducting a thorough Superintendent Search process to find a great fit for our District.

    Many of you may have also heard about the recent petition the Board received from Save Our Schools, LLC regarding a change to Article 14 of ACSD’s Charter. This petition requested the Board to warn a vote, allowing voters to directly amend Article 14 by asking the electorate to either add a town vote or a district vote requirement to the existing supermajority Board approval needed to close any ACSD school. The Executive Committee sought legal counsel on the Board’s legal obligations concerning the SOS petition, which concluded that the Board was not legally required to accept the petition and warn a vote.

    I know this is a confusing and emotional issue for our community, which is why so much time has been spent contemplating a Charter change. Ultimately, the State statute that governs amendments to articles of agreement  classifies ACSD’s Article 14 concerning school closure as a matter for the Board to decide, because it was not included in the originally warned articles for the District’s unification.  And the Vermont Supreme Court has already ruled in a prior case that a school board is not obligated to act upon a petition concerning a matter over which the voters have no authority. We were advised that a vote warned per the SOS petition would be for informational purposes only, and some members were concerned that it would not allow voters to express a preference to not amend Article 14.  


    Still, the Board discussed the matter at length during its January 9, 2023 meeting, but ultimately decided not to accept the petition. Instead, as you will read below, the Board has charged the Ad Hoc Charter Research Committee with creating specific language for the Board to consider using to amend Article 14 itself.  The continued discussion and possible action to revise the Charter is scheduled for the February 13, 2023 Board meeting.

    We said goodbye and thank you to our Board colleague, Peter Conlon, as he is resigning his position from the Board in order to fulfill his commitment to the Education Committee of the legislature. Peter has been an extraordinary member of the Board for the last 17 years and his deep knowledge of Vermont and its educational system will be missed. The Board announced his vacated seat at its meeting on January 9th. Anyone interested in filling the Cornwall seat until Town Meeting Day should send a letter of interest to the Board via vjette@acsdvt.org and be prepared to join us at our meeting on 1/23 for Q and A. Whomever is appointed may then run for a 1 year seat to be voted on Town Meeting Day.  


    Highlights of
    Board and Committee work since the October 2022 Board Update include the following:

    • The Ad Hoc Charter Research Committee presented its findings to the Board regarding how other school districts in Vermont have addressed school closure in their Articles of Agreement. The Board discussed amending Article 14 during its November 14, 2022 Board meeting but members did not feel prepared to vote at that time. In the wake of its decision regarding the Save Our Schools petition, the Board has charged the Ad Hoc Charter Research Committee with crafting language for two possible ways for the Board to consider amending Article 14 itself, including: 

      • Adding a town vote in addition to the supermajority approval of the Board currently required to authorize any school closure; or 

      • Adding a District-wide vote in addition to the supermajority approval of the Board required to close a school. 

    The Ad Hoc Research Committee will present its suggested motions to the Board at the February 13, 2023 Board meeting.

    • In early December 2022, the Communications and Engagement Committee hosted two Community Conversations on the District’s Strategic Plan for Equity. During the conversations, the Communications and Engagement Committee presented the strategic planning process completed so far, shared the Board’s strategic planning goals, and invited questions and feedback. A recording of the December 7th virtual conversation is available here, and links to the Community Conversation Slide Show and Feedback Form can be found here. Feedback from the conversations will be compiled and given to both the Board and Strategic Planning Action Team for consideration in ongoing Strategic Planning work.    

    • The Facilities Committee presented an updated summary of District-wide facilities needs at the November 28, 2022 Board meeting, based upon both the facilities assessments conducted by Truex Cullins in Spring 2022 and the Board’s prior Educational and Facilities Planning Report, Board members agreed that the District’s facilities needs are significant enough to warrant a bond for capital improvement projects, and charged the Facilities Committee with formally initiating that process. Over the next months, the Facilities Committee will identify and research consultants to assist with the bond process and help the Board define the scope of work for priority capital improvements. 

    • Through the work of the Policy and Governance Committee, the Board has adopted and/or amended the following Vermont School Board Association (VSBA) recommended policies and policy updates: 

      • Policy A-6, Board Member Conflict of Interest

      • Policy A-21, Public Participation at Board Meetings

      • Policy B-5, Prevention of Employee Harassment 

      • Policy C-6, Participation of Home Study Students

      • Policy C-7, Student Attendance

      • Policy C-8, Pupil Privacy Rights

      • Policy D-6, Class Size

      • Policy F-2, Policy on Nondiscriminatory Mascots and School Branding

      • Policy E-1, Title 1, Part A Parent and Family Engagement Policy, approval date pending 1/17/22. 

    The Policy Committee's work aligns closely with the policies vetted by the Vermont State School Board. Most are determined by state Statutes or Federal Laws.  ACSD Policies are ideally reviewed and amended on a three year cycle. New policies are determined by state requirements or at the direction of the ACSD School Board. The complete list of ACSD Policies and Procedures can be found here

     

    • The Finance Committee has been working closely with ACSD’s Director of Finance & Operations Matt Corrente to develop the budget for the ‘23-’24 academic year. The draft FY24 Budget Book can be found in Board meeting materials here. Details of the proposed budget will be presented at the ACSD’s Annual Meeting on February 28, 2023.  

    • With the help of the Negotiations Committee, the Board has authorized pay increases for both paraprofessional educators and custodial staff to help address vacancies in these positions within the District. The Negotiations Committee is also working with the Addison Central Educators Association to establish parameters around a paid sabbatical leave benefit in the master contract. The results of this work will require final Board approval, but will clarify the process by which ACSD educators may utilize this benefit.


    As always, we welcome community input and participation. Currently scheduled meetings are listed below – but please check our
    Board and Committee Meetings page frequently, as new Committee meeting dates are continuously added to the calendar.

     

    Sincerely,

     

    Victoria Jette, Chairperson, ACSD Board

    vjette@acsdvt.org

     

    Upcoming Meetings


    Board and Committee meeting dates, locations, materials, and virtual links can be found on the
    ACSD Calendar.

    January 17, 2023 5:30 - 8:00 p.m. ACSD Board Meeting – 208 Charles Ave.

    January 18, 2023 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Facilities Committee Meeting

    January 18, 2023 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. Policy & Governance Committee Meeting

    January 23, 2023 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. Ad Hoc Committee Meeting

    January 23, 2022 5:30 - 8:00 p.m. ACSD Board Meeting – Middlebury Union High School

    February 9, 2023 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. Communications & Engagement Committee Meeting

    February 13, 2023 5:30 - 8:00 p.m. ACSD Board Meeting – Middlebury Union Middle School

    February 15, 2023 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. Policy & Governance Committee Meeting

    February 28, 2023 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. ACSD Board Meeting – Middlebury Union High School

    February 28, 2023 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. ACSD Annual Meeting – Middlebury Union High School

    March 13, 2023 5:30 - 8:00 p.m. ACSD Board Meeting – Ripton Elementary School

    March 27, 2023 5:30 - 8:00 p.m. ACSD Board Meeting – 208 Charles Ave.

     

    Comments (-1)
  • School Board News - October 2022

    Posted by Heather Crowley on 10/24/2022 12:00:00 PM

    It has been great to be back in ACSD school buildings!  The positive energy of both students and staff is palpable.  And the efforts of many in our community to connect and care for our students are also being felt throughout the district: From the fantastic MUHS Homecoming hay bale Tiger to the new MUMS Color Fun Run. From the beautiful new mural at Mary Hogan School and the ongoing tradition of the Ripton Ridge Run, to the Clear the Trails night at Salisbury Community School and Shoreham Elementary’s scarecrow-making event on the Town Green, our community is showing support for our students, staff, and schools.  We thank those of you who have gone out of your way to attend a game or event at any of our schools, who have donated to various student causes or participated in activities, volunteered in our schools or become substitute teachers.  It is helping us to once again bring joy into and around our buildings and let our kids know that they matter and we care.  

     

    I am pleased that Ripton voters have decided to stay within the ACSD educational community and hope that we can all come together as one district to focus on providing the best possible education to all of our students.  We will need to direct our collective energy toward addressing the challenges that staffing shortages, old infrastructure, decreasing enrollments, and increasing costs present to our learning community. Please keep reading below for details about the ongoing work of the Board. 

     

    Highlights of Board and Committee work since the July 2022 Board Update include the following:

     

    • The Board began work on the Strategic Plan for Equity in September. This work includes taking recommendations from the community-based Strategic Plan Advisory Committee and distilling them into foundational priorities for the District moving forward. A small group of Board members has been instrumental in organizing the full Board’s ideas into values and core beliefs, and clarifying the Board’s understanding of Educational Equity. The Board is currently reviewing its mission and vision through the lens of these core beliefs, and will continue its work to establish actionable goals for the Strategic Plan. The Board will be seeking community feedback in November prior to finalizing its goals and strategies. Work products from the Board’s Strategic Planning efforts can be found in the meeting materials for the Board’s regular meetings.    

     

    • Given the community’s continued concern around the potential for school closure, the Board has agreed to consider revising Article 14 of its Charter to modify its provisions for school closure. In support of this effort, the Board created an Ad Hoc Charter Research Committee to research how other unified school districts in Vermont have addressed school closure in their Articles of Agreement. The Ad Hoc Charter Research Committee is compiling information about the spectrum of requirements found in other District Charters (e.g., town vote, district vote, and supermajority Board approval), as well as example language for varying combinations of factors.  Once the Committee has completed this work, it will present its findings to the full Board to inform the discussion regarding a potential Charter update. 

     

    • The Facilities Committee has reviewed information from the secondary school assessments conducted by Truex Cullins in Spring 2022, and will present an updated summary of District-wide facilities needs to the full Board. Based on this information and the Board’s prior Educational and Facilities Planning Report, the Board will determine which capital improvement projects best support District goals and student needs. In the upcoming months, the Facilities Committee will be guiding the development of a bond strategy to fund priority improvements to ACSD facilities. 

     

    • The Policy and Governance Committee has reviewed and is proposing adoption of the following Vermont School Board Association (VSBA) recommended policies and policy updates: 

      • Policy A-21, Public Participation at Board Meetings 

      • Policy C-5, Firearms 

      • Policy C-6, Home Study

      • Policy C-8, Draft Pupil Privacy

      • Policy D-6, Class Size

    The Policy Committee's work aligns closely with the policies vetted by the Vermont State School Board. Most are determined by state Statutes or Federal Laws.  ACSD Policies ideally are reviewed and amended on a three year cycle. New policies are determined by state requirements or at the direction of the ACSD School Board. The complete list of ACSD Policies and Procedures can be found here

     

    • The Finance Committee met in August 2022 to review the fourth quarter financial report, and reported a fund balance of just under $1.1 million, which was consistent with the projected balance. In the upcoming months, the Committee will begin working with ACSD’s new Director of Finance & Operations Matt Corrente to develop the budget for the ‘23-’24 academic year.   

     

    • The Communications and Engagement Committee has been assisting the ACSD Administration in recruiting volunteers and job applicants to fill open positions in the District. The Committee is also working to identify ongoing opportunities for the community to engage with the Board beyond the brief public comment period during Board meetings. Some ideas that have been attempted include holding virtual office hours and having a school board table at community events. Other ideas under consideration include hosting regular informal Q&A sessions and providing recurring in-person updates via parent groups at our community schools.  If you have a suggestion for community engagement, please reach out to Mary Heather Noble at mnoble@acsdvt.org

     

    As always, we welcome community input and participation. Currently scheduled meetings are listed below – but please check our Board and Committee Meetings page frequently, as new Committee meeting dates are continuously added to the calendar.

     

    Sincerely,

    Victoria Jette, Chairperson, ACSD Board

    vjette@acsdvt.org







    Upcoming Meetings

     

    Board and Committee meeting dates, locations, materials, and virtual links can be found on the ACSD Calendar.



    October 24, 2022 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. ACSD Board Meeting – 208 Charles Ave.

    November 3, 2022 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. Communications & Engagement Committee meeting

    November 14, 2022 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. ACSD Board Meeting – Cornwall Elementary School

    November 16, 2022 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. Policy & Governance Committee Meeting

    November 28, 2022 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. ACSD Board Meeting – 208 Charles Ave.

    December 12, 2022 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. ACSD Board Meeting – Mary Hogan School

    December 19, 2022 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. ACSD Board Meeting – 208 Charles Ave.

    December 21, 2022 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. Policy & Governance Committee Meeting



    Comments (-1)
  • School Board News - July 2022

    Posted by Emily Blistein on 7/12/2022 11:05:00 AM

    Dear ACSD Community, 

     

    Happy Summer!  When VT is beautiful, it goes above and beyond. I hope that staff and families alike are getting out to enjoy our beautiful state with family and friends, away from screens and media. I hope that everyone finds time to decompress from this challenging year. I believe ACSD finished the year out strong, with many end-of-year events to celebrate both teachers and students in our community. Congratulations and best wishes to our retirees — we are so grateful for all the years of dedicated service you have given to our students. 

     

    I had a prime seat for the MUHS graduation, which was a terrific example of this community at its best. The messages from our student speakers resonated for many of us, particularly learning to “trust tomorrow” in these uncertain times, and focusing on “being good” and “doing good” in our community rather than burning out in the pursuit of individual greatness.  

     

    Like many districts across the country we have had higher than average teacher turn-over.  The Board recognizes these losses, as well as the confluence of issues contributing to these decisions. We are working with Superintendent Burrows to learn more through the exit interview process, so appropriate teacher supports can be prioritized moving forward.  Fortunately, we have had a strong applicant pool for most positions.  We look forward to welcoming this new group of educators and wish to thank those who have remained.  Several of these remaining teachers are coming together over the summer to work in groups on various projects that will help the district have a strong start to the next year. Thanks to ESSER (Federal pandemic recovery) funds, ACSD is able to compensate them for this important work, including development of an orientation program for new teachers. 

     

    The one area where the district needs the community’s help is with filling paraprofessional positions. These positions are integral to a school running smoothly. A paraprofessional may assist a classroom teacher, or be paired with a student as a one-on-one aid. The Board recently approved a wage increase for these positions, so if you or anyone you know has ever been interested in working in a school to truly make a difference, please share this link which has all of our open positions and can be found under the “Employment” section of the acsdvt.org website.

     

    Below you will find updates about the work of each committee. These committees are where a great deal of Board work gets done. This work of change, improvement and review is generally slow, steady work. Democracy in action: Board members from all member towns coming together to debate, listen and consider how to move forward in the best interest of all students.  

     

    Finally, in the updates below, you will find a link to the Facilities Master Planning report. This document is a culmination of many years of work assessing ACSD buildings and considering the needs of all students and staff.  In combination with the Strategic Plan for Equity that is currently underway, we hope to be able to agree upon the best blueprint for investing our limited resources in both our infrastructure and programs so that ACSD can continue to provide a dynamic learning community for all students. 

    Highlights of Board accomplishments and Committee work since the April 2022 Board Update include the following:

     

    • The Board has updated and amended several policies to ensure consistency with Vermont statutes, including: 
      • Board Operation Policies A-1 and A-2, which establish the Board’s governance commitment and Board member responsibilities; 
      • Personnel Policies B-1 through B-4 and B-7, which address substitute teachers, volunteers, and prohibited substances;  and
      • Student Policies D-1, D-3, and D-22, which address Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements, Internet Use, and Selection of Library Materials, respectively.

    The Policy and Governance Committee is continuing its required review of existing policies for necessary updates, and is examining Vermont School Board Association (VSBA) recommended Policy A-21, Public Participation at Board Meetings. Upcoming committee work also includes reviewing required Policy C-5, Firearms, with assistance from Middlebury Police Chief Tom Hanley. The complete list of ACSD Policies and Procedures can be found here

     

    • The Board has released its Educational and Facilities Planning Report to the community, which can be found on our website. Printed copies of the report will be available at the ACSD Central Office, each ACSD school, Ilsley Library, Sarah Partridge Library, Platt Memorial Library, Salisbury Free Public Library, and town offices of each ACSD member town. Printed copies will also be distributed to PreK programs serving ACSD families, including Addison County Parent Child Center, Bridge School, College Street Children’s Center, Mary Johnson Children’s Center, Middlebury Cooperative Nursery School, Otter Creek Child Center, and Quarry Hill School. Community members may contact the Central Office at 802-382-1274 to have a copy printed for personal use. 

     

    The Board intends to conduct additional community engagement to inform further ACSD facilities planning in the early fall of 2022. In the meantime, questions about the Educational and Facilities Planning Report can be directed to the Board at 802-382-1700, or emailed to Board Chair Victoria Jette at vjette@acsdvt.org and Facilities Committee Chair Jennifer Nuceder at jmnuceder@acsdvt.org. A Board member will also hold virtual office hours from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 29th, July 6th, and July 27th to take questions from the community. Please contact Mary Heather Noble at mnoble@acsdvt.org to request a zoom link for virtual office hours. 

     

    • The Facilities Committee is reviewing information generated from detailed assessments of the MUMS and MUHS campuses, conducted by Truex Cullins this spring. This information augments the Educational and Facilities Planning Report, and will help the Board develop a bond strategy to support priority improvements to ACSD facilities. The final report from the assessments of our secondary schools is available HERE on our website.

     

    • The Finance Committee continues its oversight of ACSD bills, and will be meeting in late July or early August to review the fourth quarter financial report.   

     

    • The Communications and Engagement Committee continues its work on routine communications, and is currently researching best practices for community engagement to inform upcoming outreach associated with the Board’s Strategic Plan for Equity. The Communications and Engagement Committee will also be coordinating with the Facilities Committee to conduct additional community engagement around facilities planning in the fall.    

     

    As always, we welcome community input and participation in Board and Committee meetings. Currently scheduled meetings are listed below – but please check our Board and Committee Meetings page frequently, as new Committee meeting dates are continuously added to the calendar.

     

    Sincerely,

    Victoria Jette, Chairperson, ACSD Board

    vjette@acsdvt.org




    Upcoming Meetings

     

    Board and Committee meeting dates, materials, and virtual links can be found on the ACSD Calendar.



    July 6, 2022 6:00- 7:00 p.m. ACSD Board Virtual Office Hours

    July 27, 2022 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. ACSD Board Virtual Office Hours

    August 8, 2022 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. ACSD Board Meeting

    August 22, 2022 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. ACSD Board Meeting

    September 12, 2022 3:00 - 8:00 p.m. ACSD Board Retreat for Strategic Planning

    Comments (-1)

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