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  • ACSD Strategic Plan 2022-2023 Overview

    The Addison Central School District (ACSD) is currently designing a new, equity-informed strategic plan that will prioritize the success of every student. There are many opportunities for students, families, staff, and community members (stakeholders) to help shape the direction of a strategic plan.  The timeline below is an overview of the process so far. It also includes upcoming opportunities for stakeholders to offer feedback and expertise.


    Phase 1 (December 2021-August 2022)

    • In December 2021, ACSD formed an Advisory Committee composed of diverse community stakeholders to serve as advisors to the board and begin the work of engaging with the community. 

      • They met from December 2021 - June 2022 to gather and analyze data about inequities in ACSD’s academic and social emotional environment, staff and community experiences and engagement. You can learn more about the Advisory Committee and read their meeting minutes here.

      • You can read past updates and opportunities for community engagement that their Co-Chairs, Esther Charlestin and Amanda Gomes, sent throughout the process to the ACSD community here.

    • In 2022, ACSD held an online school community diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) survey and conducted an analysis of annual student data points collected by the district. 

    • Additional outreach included an open-ended survey and one-on-one conversations.

    • The advisory committee finished its work in the summer of 2022. At the September 12 Board retreat, Amanda Gomes, Co-Chair and student representative to the Advisory Committee presented a summary of the Strategic Planning Advisory Committee's work around the District's equity audit findings, and the Committee's final report and  recommendations for incorporating equity into the Board's Strategic Planning Goals. Here are the 4 recommendations: 

      • Prioritize social emotional needs of students and the entire school community.
      • Dedicate permanent resources, staffing and attention to equity work throughout the district.
      • Develop and implement an equity based rubric to help inform decision making and evaluation of programs and practices.
      • Provide leadership that is accountable and centers responsive practices to recruit, support, and retain staff that reflects the diversity of our school community and focuses on the needs of our learners.
      • Work to ensure communication is concise and accessible so that all students, families and staff have the information they need to succeed.


    Phase 2 (August-November 2022) 

    • Building on the work of the Advisory Committee, the ACSD Board

      • Began work at the September 12, 2022 Board Retreat with the presentation from the Advisory Committee Co-Chair. You can find the board minutes for the September 12, 2022 Board meeting HERE (approved on 9/26/22) and/or watch the full School Board Retreat HERE.  

      • Between September 12 and October 10th the board also created a working group to formalize, organize, edit, and finalize wording between School Board meetings.

      • You can find the September 26 School Board meeting minutes HERE (approved 10/10/22) and recording HERE

      • You can find the October 10th School Board meeting minutes HERE (approved 10/24/22) and recording HERE (Discussion begins at hour 1:07)

    • The conclusion of the board's work resulted in core values and belief statements, a refined definition of "equity," a revision to its mission and vision statements, theory of action statements, and the development of 3 primary goals to guide the strategic plan. The three goals are below, the full components can be viewed here.
      • Everyone will feel safe, welcomed, and included in our schools and the district. Students and families will be able to engage with the school system in valuable ways.

      • ACSD will allocate resources to address students’ needs across the district in equitable, sustainable, and fiscally responsible ways. ACSD will maintain infrastructure and facilities that support varied learning and successful outcomes for all of our students.

      • ACSD’s learning environment will inspire a passion for learning and value diverse identities and abilities, while preparing our students to make positive contributions to the community and beyond. 

    • The ACSD School Board will convene the community in Nov/Dec 2022 to present the work to date and provide opportunity for feedback and ideas for moving forward. 

    Phase 3 (December 2022 - Spring 2023) 

    • ACSD will convene a Strategic Planning Action Team through an open application process. The team will be  composed of staff and school community members who have  expertise and experience with the goals set by the Board. They will develop measurable outcomes, strategies, tasks, and timelines. 

    • The Action Team will explore opportunities for community engagement such as: stakeholder meetings, forums, and open ended surveys. These opportunities will be advertised in district monthly newsletters, principal weekly emails, and on the district website and social media.

    • ACSD will share the results of the team’s work with the community in the early 2023 spring for further community feedback.

    Phase 4 (Spring 2023-June 2023) 

    • The Action Team will bring all of the pieces of work together to create a written strategic plan and define a method of assessing progress each year. 

    • The ACSD board will approve the final plan in the spring of 2023. 

    Comments (-1)
  • 2022 Advisory Committee Final Report Presented to the Board

    Posted by Emily Blistein on 9/16/2022




    In November 2021, Addison Central School District (ACSD) began a new, equity-informed strategic planning process by forming an advisory committee that included multiple community perspectives. Strategic plans offer an opportunity for a school district to name priorities, make value statements, and be accountable to the community when working towards those priorities. This report is the culmination of seven months of work by the advisory committee and includes the 5 following recommendations to inform the ACSD school board’s work to determine the goals within the strategic plan: 


    1. Prioritize social emotional needs of students and the entire school community.

    2. Dedicate permanent resources, staffing and attention to equity work throughout the district.

    3. Develop and implement an equity based rubric to help inform decision making and evaluation of programs and practices.

    4. Provide leadership that is accountable and centers responsive practices to recruit, support, and retain staff that reflects the diversity of our school community and focuses on the needs of our learners.

    5. Work to ensure communication is concise and accessible so that all students, families and staff have the information they need to succeed.


    The district began the strategic planning process by forming a community advisory committee. The committee advised and supported the district in better engaging the school community to encourage participation in the early data/feedback collection stage of the strategic planning process. The committee then created an equity framework they used to help form the 5 recommendations shared in this report. The recommendations are intended to help the school board in determining the goals of the strategic plan. The district hired EMStrategies, LLC to assist the district in designing the advisory committee process, facilitate and design advisory  committee meetings, support the committee’s recommendation setting process and then support the school board in setting the strategic plan goals. EMStrategies’ principal consultant, Emma Mulvaney-Stanak (white, queer woman), worked with consultant Lisa Ryan (Black woman), who offered racial equity coaching throughout the design and facilitation process.

    The advisory committee included 3 students, 4 parents/caregivers, 3 educators/staff, 2 community members at-large, a principal and the ACSD Director of Equity and Student Services. When the district selected the committee, particular attention was given to selecting members who hold underrepresented identities (ex: Black, Indigenous, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, people living in poverty, people living with a disability, etc.). The committee elected two co-chairs to serve as liaisons between the district, consultant and the committee in between meetings. One co-chair was a high school student and the other was a community member and parent to small children. Both are women of color. 


    The committee was charged with advising the strategic planning process and board in the following ways:

    1. Define what equity means as it relates to the committee’s work and strategic planning process

      1. Create an educational equity definition and framework

      2. Share and coordinate framework with the administration and school board

    2. Advise ACSD how to better engage the community 

      1. Help connect the community to the district, share the work of the advisory committee and district, encourage the community to complete the equity survey, share the equity survey results and committee recommendations

      2. Invite specific community members to join conversations on certain topics to broaden the committee’s conversation and strengthen recommendations 

      3. Provide feedback on ways the district can improve efforts to reach our entire community, including completing the equity survey (January 2022), participating in focus groups, and attending community meetings (Fall 2022)

    3. Provide input on what data should be collected by the district

      1. Review the Hanover Group equity survey 

      2. Suggest additional information the district needs to collect to have a holistic understanding of school community needs to inform the strategic plan

    4. Work in partnership with the board and staff to develop priorities and how to work towards those priorities 

      1. Present committee’s recommendations to board and administrative staff and discuss priorities to inform the strategic plan 

      2. Work with board and administrative staff to advise on how the district creates action teams to implement the priority areas of the strategic plan, including strategies and activities needed to meet strategic plan goals

    Each committee member was offered a stipend for their expertise, time, and expenses (ex: transportation, child care, internet, etc.). Interpretation and translation services were provided to create inclusive meeting spaces. The committee met six times between December 2021 and June 2022. The consultant met twice a month with co-chairs and twice a month with the ACSD Superintendent and Communications Director. The committee also broke into four sub groups during its work to analyze four main topic areas to inform committee discussions. Those four topic areas were:

    • School and Social Environment

    • Academic Environment

    • Staff Perceptions

    • Engagement & Outreach

    The district hired Hanover Research to administer a school community survey on diversity, equity and inclusion and also conduct an analysis of annual data points collected by the district. More information on the survey, results and participation rate are on page 5 of this document. Formal online surveys are only one way to engage people and they also present structural barriers based on someone’s available time to take a survey, internet access, English language proficiency or literacy skills. As such, use of an online survey as a sole source of input would limit one’s ability to fully understand the culture and needs of a community. The committee advised the district to add an open-ended survey to be shared multiple times in the spring to collect narratives and additional feedback from students, staff and families. The district also held one-on-one conversations with school community members and meetings with student groups and other stakeholders. The committee had access to the raw data collected from these additional efforts as well as Hanover Research’s data analysis.

    The committee decided to extend its work into the summer to add an additional meeting to fully deliberate on recommendations. The committee then used the consultant and ACSD Director of Communciation’s assistance to draft the report and incorporate feedback/edits. Drafts of the report were shared with the co-chairs, subcontractor Lisa Ryan and ACSD Communications Director before sending a draft to the full committee in early July. Committee members had a month to review the report and were invited to add a personal statement on any topics they wished to add or emphasize beyond what was included in the report. Personal statements are included in the addendum of this document.

    Equity Definition and Framework 

    This definition was developed by the ACSD advisory committee to inform their work on making recommendations for the focus and goals to be considered in the ACSD strategic plan. Minoritized individuals and communities are those folks pushed to the margins of a community by things out of your own control such as race, economic class, gender identity or disability status (Paniagua, 2015). The committee uses the word minoritized rather than the word minority because bias, racism, discrimination and other systems cause people to be disenfranchised, not the actual number of people who hold those identities compared to others in a community.

    Educational equity means that students’ identities do not determine their educational experience in our district. This includes a student’s emotional and social well-being and academic success. Educational equity means believing the experience shared by a member of our school community. This also includes listening to and engaging with families, students and staff. Educational equity also means committing to removing barriers that negatively impact minoritized individuals and communities.


    When the committee was reviewing information collected between January and June 2022 from the school community and distilling core ideas and themes, they used the following framework questions to apply their educational equity definition to the recommendations advanced in this report:


    1. Why is this recommendation important?

    2. How does this help or hinder our educational equity principles within our equity definition? The core principles in our definition are:

    • Students’ identities do not determine their educational experience (academic, emotional and social well being). 

    • We believe the experiences shared by our community. We listen and engage our community. 

    • We commit to removing barriers that negatively impact minoritized members of our community.

    1. What does the school community need right now? How do we know that?


    1. What recommendation could this inform the school board? Let’s make our statements short, clear, and inspired and about the type of future school community we want in ACSD.


    1. What are additional pieces of information the board should explore within the recommendation topic? 


    Resources, Data and Input Used 

    School Community Meetings - Six meetings were held with school community partners including ACSD English Language Learner Teachers, Student Coalition on Human Rights (9th-12th graders), MUHS School Counselors, Vermont Department of Children and Families, a meeting of 9th/10th grade students with a subgroup of the advisory committee (summary can be found in meeting notes here) and a parent/caregiver meeting of families who are part of the migrant farmworker community (summary can be found in meeting notes here).

    School Community Open Ended Feedback Survey - Created in March 2022 and open until June 13, 2022 for feedback from the school community. We received 82 responses from 62 parents/caregivers, 19 staff, 9 students and 7 community members. The survey was shared on our website, in numerous emails to our ACSD community, in our spring ACSD Newsletter, and on social media. You can read a summary of the survey questions here. The survey asked the following questions:


    1. How do students (families/staff) experience ACSD? Is the district welcoming, inclusive and supportive of all students? Examples of what is working?

    2. How can the district improve and/or remove barriers or end practices that negatively impact marginalized students (families/staff)? Examples of what is not working?

    3. What is your vision for the district/future students (families/staff? What priorities should the district consider in the new strategic plan? What should be deemphasized and what should be emphasized?

    4. Anything else?


    One-on-One Conversations. Throughout the committee process, individual members held one-on-one conversations which they often shared or summarized during meetings. Each communication to the community also offered a staff contact and invitation to call, email or set up individual meetings if a community member wanted to share their feedback instead of or in addition to completing the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Survey or the Open Ended Feedback Survey. 


    Hanover Research - Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Survey (Executive Summary, July 2022). A school community online survey administered in February-March 2022 to students, staff and parents/caregivers. The survey had 987 total respondents, which included 530 students from 6th-12th grades (total 899 students, 59% response rate), 297 families (unknown total of families, estimating 3,000 for a 9.9% response rate) and 160 staff (total 388 (FTE) staff, 41% response rate).

    Hanover Research - Equity Data Analysis (Executive Summary, (April 2022)). An analysis of other data points to examine ACSD student data from the last five years related to enrollment, demographics, classifications and how it relates to academics, behavioral and program access outcomes. 


    Hanover Research - Infographic (Strategic Priorities Data Summary July 2022) A summary and overview of two Hanover Research (Hanover) studies completed on behalf of Addison Central Unified School District (ACUSD) to support its ongoing strategic planning process – the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Diagnostic Survey and Equity Scorecard and Data Dashboard. The findings of these studies can be used by ACUSD to identify priorities and areas of need during strategic planning.



    1. Prioritize social emotional needs of students and the entire school community. 

    • Work with the school community to define social emotional wellness and understand needs of the school community (students, staff and families), especially added barriers for people with marginalized identities.

    • Work to understand current and potential programming beyond academics that support students, staff and families offered by ACSD. 

    • Ensure social emotional needs are given the same weight as academic performance.


    A strong focus on social emotional well being will help to build a strong school community and culture. Many students navigate mental health challenges, the stigma of disclosing mental health issues, and disproportionate impact on marginalized identities long before COVID. The pandemic only intensified these issues for students.  We know that students have reported bullying based on their racial, sexual, and gender identities. Other students cannot access the same programming and activities given limited staffing to support students living with disabilities in a rural school district. Students who hold multiple identities face even more complexities. We want to ensure that school is a safe and accessible place for all students. The pandemic also negatively impacted the mental health and social emotional well being of our staff and tending to the well being of our full school community will create a healthier, more unified school district.


    Hanover Research Analysis

    • “A greater proportion of student respondents and middle school respondents perceive bullying as a problem at school compared to respondents overall. Accordingly, 60% of student respondents and 76% of middle school level respondents agree or strongly agree that bullying is a problem at their school compared to 43% of parent and staff respondents, 39% of high school level respondents and 27% of elementary level respondents.” (DEI Diagnostic, Discipline & Safety, page 6)

    • “Top spending priorities for the one-time ARP ESSER grant funds include mental health and prevention supports, teacher supports to meet increased educational and social emotional needs of a school, targeted behavioral supports, and literacy instruction and supports. Approximately 95% of respondents identify investments in these areas as somewhat a priority or a high priority.” (DEI Diagnostic, Priorities and Overall Perceptions, page 3)


    From School Community Open Ended Feedback Survey

    • Respondents noted a need to look at the needs of students, especially those in the “middle tiers” and better understand the impact of the social emotional learning environment on their confidence, mental health and success. “Listening to the youth will be important, especially given the unique times they have been living through… SEL is a top priority, with special focus on DEI. Efforts to make schools feel safe for non-mainstream kids means a healthier environment for everyone across the board…The mental health of so many people, kids AND adults, is in jeopardy and requires constant care.” - ParentCaregiver, April 2022

    • Respondents noted more work needed to create inclusive space, teacher/staff informed practices and curriculum that is affirming of transgender and LGTQIA+ students and addressess homophobia and transphobia. “Teachers and students could be more welcoming to queer students.  I identify as gender non-binary, but some teachers refuse to call me by my preferred name even after telling them over and over.  This kind of feels like somebody stabbing me.  I know this sounds dramatic, but when someone says something painful on purpose, it really hurts. .” - Student conversations with Advisory Committee small group assigned to academic environment (May 2022)   

    • Respondents noted more work is needed to create stronger responses to acts of racism and create safe spaces. “My experience is that some students experience racism and bullying. BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students get treated poorly by some of their peers. This is an invisible problem in our district.” -Staff and Parent/Caregiver (May 2022)


    2. Dedicate permanent resources, staffing and attention to equity work throughout the district. 

    • Consider forming a permanent equity team (needs to be defined and should involve multiple levels of district, not limited only to a committee) that represents the school community to advise the district.

    • Consider assigning equity work to other staff within the district and in each school to create a more expansive and responsive environment.

    • Consider forming advisory committees to support the district’s work to support students and families who live with a disability, use the special education program, and hold a marginalized identity such as LGBTQIA+ or BIPOC.

    • Be careful not to minimize equity work and instead use an equity framework that centers and uplifts the most impacted, marginalized members of our school community.

    • Empower all individuals working on equity to have the authority and ability to support and direct equity work in the district. 

    • Support all individuals in implementing equity work.

    • Offer professional learning opportunities to staff that are consistent and meaningful in supporting equitable learning environments. 

    • Engage students, staff and families in dialogue to ensure the district stays accountable.  



    Equity work is ongoing work. Addressing inequities in the district will take time, resources and dedicated expertise and resources to adequately identify and shift culture, practice and systems. Information gathered during the advisory committee’s process revealed members of our school community experience the school district differently based on their identities, learning styles and school placement. It is important to engage members of the school community in meaningful ways to listen, learn and believe their experience of being a student, staff member or parent/caregiver. The ACSD advisory committee was a good first effort to create a process, group and outcomes using an equity framework to positively impact more equitable outcomes for students. The district is ready and needs more intentional, ongoing focus on equity work.

    Hanover Research Analysis

    • “Most staff (64%) and parent (55%) respondents agree or strongly agree that teachers are engaging students in meaningful conversations about diversity compared with 46% of student respondents. On the other hand, 54% of white respondents agree or strongly agree that teachers are engaging students in meaningful conversations about diversity compared with 38% of non-white or multi-racial respondents.” (DEI Diagnostic, Academics & Instruction, page 4-5)

    • “Fewer than 30% of respondents indicate students engaged in classroom conversations about social justice (29%), systemic discrimination/institutional racism (21%), social action (20%), diversity (20%), race-related topics (19%), or implicit biases (18%) often or very often in the week prior to the survey.” (DEI Diagnostic, Academics & Instruction, page 5)

    • “62% of white student respondents agree or strongly agree that adults in their school understand their culture and background compared with 45% of non-white or muti-racial student respondents. 54% of white staff and parent respondents agree or strongly agree that adults understand students’ experiences and backgrounds compared with 26% of non-white or multi-racial staff or parent respondents.”  (DEI Diagnostic, School Environment, page 6)

    • “Over half (56%) of white respondents agree or strongly agree that all students face the same consequences regardless of their background compared with 48% of non-white or multi-racial respondents.” (DEI Diagnostic, Discipline & Safety, page 7)

    • “Fewer than half of staff respondents agree or strongly agree that their school/district schools provide enough quality professional development on equity related topics (26%), support teachers and their struggling students (39%), work to reduce the effect of implicit biases and systemic discrimintion on school decisions (40%), provide staff time to collaborate on strategies for equitable instruction (44%), or support for culturally sustaining practices and pedagogies (49%).” (DEI Diagnostic, Academics & Instruction, page 5)

    From School Community Open Ended Feedback Survey

    • Respondents noted a need to expand training for staff, including on gender and sexual identitym racism, and bias.
      “Often educators are white and come from (or are in) the middle class. We don’t always have access to training to examine our own biases and as such we teachers as we have been taught and exclude students and families of different races, ethnicities, socio-economic, ability groups without realizing it.” -Staff, Parent/Caregiver and Community Member (May 2022)

    • Respondents noted a need to focus on retaining qualified staff and supporting existing staff. “Work on current situations at hand with students/faculty and retention.” - Parent/Caregiver (May 2022)


    3. Develop and implement an equity based rubric to help inform decision making and evaluation of programs and practices. 

    • Define the rubric and protocol. Consider using something similar to the Advisory Committee’s equity definition framework and make it easy to use. 

    • Define what the type and level of decisions would use the rubric.

    • Define when programs would be evaluated using the rubric. For example, use the rubric when evaluating existing programs when being considered for renewal, major changes or termination. 


    An equity based rubric will develop awareness and, hopefully, different outcomes in decision making by the district by encouraging inquiry on impact, bias and how a decision supports or hinders equitable outcomes for students. Using an equity tool in evaluations of programs will also develop ACSD leadership and staff’s awareness of the impact of existing programs and where inequities exist in current programming. School community members, especially students, will feel more seen and heard when decisions are required to be made using a transparent, consistent, and equity-based framework. Using an equity rubric will also increase the district’s awareness around racial, gender/sexual identities and students living with disabilities. It will also help encourage student-based inquiry. 


    There are resources within Vermont as well as nationally that the district could consider using to define the rubric and protocol. The State of Vermont Office of Racial Equity uses an equity assessment tool when state agencies or departments are forming a new program or requesting a new budget item. The National Equity Project also offers tools and examples of education-based equity tools and frameworks. 


    Hanover Research Analysis

    • “...equal access to all courses, to high-quality resources, and to all extracurricular activities. Overall, just under 80% of all respondents indicate that equal access in these areas is a high priority or essential….Just under 24% of staff respondents agree or strongly agree that resources are equally distributed across all district schools.”  (DEI Diagnostic, Priorities and Overall Perceptions, page 3)


    From School Community Open Ended Feedback Survey

    • When asked in open-ended questions what is working and not working in the district, 33% of respondents recommended evaluating the IB program and to look for more inclusive ways to deliver and resource academic programs to benefit both students and teachers. Sample statements:

      “I don’t feel the new IB program is inclusive to students who have 504, IEP, EST plans or any student who has [fallen] back or any student who struggles academically or who doesn’t learn in the traditional way.” - Parent/Caregiver, March 2022

      “I think the IB program is centered towards students that are already exceeding the standards of normal and will take the initiative to seek higher course levels…I have students who are hands-on learners, they function very well in the career center…I have a student on an IEP and thankfully he is otherwise he would never be able to graduate high school with the IB curriculum.” - Parent/Caregiver, March 2022

    4. Provide leadership that is accountable and centers responsive practices to recruit, support, and retain staff that reflects the diversity of our school community and focuses on the needs of our learners. 

    • Administration should engage in an evaluation process that includes accountability, collaboration, focuses on needs of the learners, and creates a process to report when this is not happening. 

    • Examine current recruitment and retention policies, practices and protocols to understand trends in staffing and gaps in representation of our school community in staff roles. 

    • Support the growth of leadership of faculty, staff and students by working to create opportunities to empower them to be leaders.

    • Connect this recommendation to the equity rubric recommendation by using an equity-informed framework to accountable leadership structure and practices. 


    Creating responsive, accountable, transparent leadership practices will better support our employees, enable them to better support our students, and improve the culture and climate of our district. When decisionmaking and processes are clear, we will all benefit from improved employee wellness and increased recruitment and retention. When employees and the community better understand leadership practices, everyone will benefit from increased trust, professional growth, and student success.


    Hanover Research Analysis

    • “Most parent, staff and high school student respondents do not agree that the district schools/their school/their child’s school hires or retains teachers from diverse backgrounds. Just 20% of these respondents agree or strongly agree that the schools hire teachers from diverse backgrounds and fewer (17%) agree or strongly agree that schools can retain teachers from diverse backgrounds.” (DEI Diagnostic, Academics & Instruction, page 5)


    From School Community Open Ended Feedback Survey

    • Respondents requested a need for stronger leadership in the district to support staff and to also specifically address incidents of racism in immediate and courageous ways. 


    5. Work to ensure communication is concise and accessible so that all students, families and staff have the information they need to succeed.

    • Utilize existing communication points and new two-way avenues that are responsive, authentic and adaptable.

    • Be clear and direct in language used  to be accessible to people with a range of literacy skills. 

    • Consider increasing permanent resources for language translation and interpretation. 



    We serve a population with diverse communication needs. Several of our families speak primary languages at home other than English. Families currently experience language, connection, and comprehension barriers that prevent them from fully understanding and participating in their child(ren)s learning. When every family receives clear, timely, helpful communication about their child’s education and the life of their school, they will be supported to understand and engage in their child’s learning. Clearer and more concise information and communication practices better serve everyone in our school community. Communication is also more than written and verbal information sharing. It also includes building meaningful relationships with each other. 


    Hanover Research Analysis

    • 54% agree or strongly agree that the district communicates well with parents. 

    • 47% agree or strongly agree that their school works with parents to reduce barriers to parents' participation in school activities.

    • 44% agree or strongly agree that their child's school provides translation services to all who need it.
      (Hanover DEI Diagnostic Dashboard, page 13)


    From School Community Open Ended Feedback Survey

    • Families who are also members of the migrant farm worker community held a meeting in March and shared communication works well when relationships are built and conversations happen. When communication shifts to only written information, families cannot actively communicate back and forth with the district due to language barriers. Families shared stories of their children being bullied and feeling uncomfortable in the community due to racially motivated harassment. Some of these families also struggle with isolation due to lack of transportation and language access so direct connection and relationships are even more important with the district. (Meeting with ACSD migrant farmworker families, March 2022)

    • Respondents noted a need to improve communication and engagement with families. This includes listening to parent/community concerns. “We need to continue to engage all families in their child’s education in a way that feels proactive and not only when problems arise.” - Staff, Parent/Caregiver and Community Member (May 2022)

      “Improve two-way communication with students, parents and community members. Collaborate more openly with community organizations and other school districts. ACSD is not an island!” - Parent/Caregiver (June 2022)




    ACSD Advisory Committee 2021-2022

    First Name

    Last Name







    Middlebury Union High School





    Middlebury Union High School





    Middlebury Union High School





    Middlebury Union Middle School



    Shattuck Bernstein


    Middlebury Union High School





    Middlebury Union High School





    Cornwall Elementary School





    Weybridge Elementary School

    Educators/Staff (New Seat)




    Middlebury Union Middle School

    Community Members At-Large (also parent/caregiver)




    Middlebury Union Middle School

    Community Members At-Large




    Middlebury Union Middle School

    Community Members At-Large (also parent/caregiver)





    Community Members At-Large/Elected Leader




    Middlebury Union High School





    Central Office

    Director Equity and Student Services






    Central Office





    Central Office

    Director of Communications




    Salisbury Elementary School






    Racial Equity Coach for EMStrategies





    EMStrategies consultant 




    This past school year was exceptionally difficult across the ACSD, pandemic notwithstanding. Administration responses to staffing issues and student behavioral needs fell short. Students, families, and teachers experienced varying levels of trauma district wide, but particularly at MUMS. Discussion of and planning for a more equitable district is important and necessary. And, we do not want the work or the ideas and vocabulary to become cheapened by inadequate training, staffing, or administrative commitment and capacity. Administrators have received a great deal of feedback from families, students, faculty and staff. The feedback is clear: the timing of the 6th grade move to MUMS was a mistake; behavioral systems are not in place and/or not working; IB implementation is not meeting the needs of many students. Key to moving forward with equity work in an open, honest, and authentic way is rebuilding trust. Part of rebuilding trust requires administrative humility, public acknowledgement of shortcomings, and public statements about next steps to ameliorate shortcomings.
    Christina Wadsworth




    I am grateful for my experience on this committee.  I gained a deeper understanding of equity from listening to the ideas and experiences of others in the room.  I have confidence in the recommendations set forth in the above document.  I also want to express my concern about the Hanover Survey's effectiveness at gaining accurate insight into the district's relationship with equity.  I, and many others on the committee, questioned how and why the Hanover organization was chosen, how much they were paid, and whether it is really the right way to pursue these issues in the future. We expressed these concerns and questions and did not receive any direct response from the district. These and other concerns and suggestions pertaining to the survey are included in  

    I believe equity happens when everyone has the opportunity to get what they need.  In order to know whether this is happening or what is missing, there needs to be an accurate and inclusive way to access and measure people's experiences in a way over time.  I strongly recommend using mixed methods research that combines elements of quantitative research (like survey questions) and qualitative research (asking open ended questions to gain understanding around emotional experiences, race, relationships, goals, challenges, ect.) . We need to ask questions, listen to answers and have a way of reporting this data. The open response survey brought up important issues (ex. bussing to sports, equity issues with the IB program) that would have been missed in the Hanover survey alone. There are many qualitative data survey tools to choose from and I strongly believe that it is worth looking into sooner than later, as the data collection process continues to improve as it is used.

    Thanks for listening and good luck with this ongoing and important work.
    Jessie Witscher



    Equity is the heart of public education and why we all do what we do. It is a privilege to be part of the conversation. Below I have outlined a few key points to add to–or reiterate from–this document. These are the major points I heard in our meetings and the open-ended survey responses:

    Staffing levels were the most important issue identified in the survey. Direct student contact staff are our most valuable resource. Quotes from the survey: “[we need] smaller team sizes, smaller groups, more adult contact for struggling children; my vision: 15:1 student teacher ratio and/or 2 trained adults in all elementary classrooms at all times; teachers need support staff; focus on the people in our district- prioritize hiring the best teachers and keeping student teacher ratios in a good place; prioritize hiring direct student interaction and less coordinators and high level positions not administration who don’t work directly with children; don’t cut paraprofessionals; teachers and staff feel too spread thin; [we have an] unsafe atmosphere due to lack of staffing.”

    Other themes and ideas that were repeated over and over again: evaluate IB (and other changes); inhance support for those students who are not prepared to be in the classroom; emphasize the mental health of students; prioritize students from lower socio-economic status, regardless of race or ethnicity; make sure all pathways for students feel respected and resourced; admit and address challenges openly (ex. difficulties with the 6th grade move); incorporate anti-racist, trauma, poverty, and restorative practices trainings; consider a late bus; recognize that community based education is greatly valued; reach and support all families, but especially those who have the hardest time connecting (perhaps negative experiences of their own); and use clear, concise communication in all situations (school to students and school to families).

    Lastly, a structure (equity committee?) should be created that 1) dynamically continues this equity work and 2) provides meaningful dialogue and avenues for feedback (such as the open-ended survey used here). These steps will facilitate a culture of trust and working together.

    Ruth Bernstein 




    Advisory Committee Meeting Notes, December 8, 2021

    Advisory Committee Meeting Notes, January 31, 2022

    Advisory Committee Meeting Notes, March 7, 2022

    Advisory Committee Meeting Notes, April 4, 2022

    Advisory Committee Meeting Notes, May 16, 2022

    Advisory Committee Meeting Notes, June 6, 2022

    Advisory Committee Recommendation Brainstorm on Initial Recommendations and Post it Images, June 13, 2022

    Advisory Committee Small Group (Academic Environment) Committee Presentation, May 2022

    Advisory Committee Small Group (Community Engagement) (no powerpoint, but see committee notes), April 2022

    Advisory Committee Small Group (Social Emotional Learning) Committee Presentation, May 2022

    Advisory Committee Small Group (Staff Perceptions) Committee Presentation, March 2022

    ACSD School Community Meetings Summary, February-April 2022    

    ACSD School Community Open Ended Feedback Survey Summary, March-June 2022

    Hanover Research, Executive Summary: Diversity Equity and Inclusion Diagnostic, July 2022

    Hanover Research, Executive Summary: Equity Data Analysis, April 2022

    Hanover Research, DEI Diagnostic Dashboard, July 2022

    Hanover Research, Infographic 

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  • May Co-Chairs Update

    Posted by Emily Blistein on 5/27/2022 11:20:00 AM

    Dear ACSD Community,

    Below please find an update on our most recent meeting and opportunities to engage as we move forward as an Advisory Committee working to center educational equity in our next strategic plan.


    Overview of our May 16th meeting:

    We checked in on the progress of our work and what we need to fulfill our advisory role to the school board as they embark on the new strategic plan this fall. A sub-group also led a discussion about the social emotional environment for students. A sub-group academic environment but slides were shared from the small sub group’s work on this topic and more will be discussed on June 6th. An earlier meeting on May 2nd was canceled due to illnesses and last minute conflicts.

    We had an open dialogue about how this process is working and shared reflections about how we can adjust our approach to ensure we have time to complete our work and feel it is thoughtful and meaningful. We agreed that we need more flexibility to finish this work and may need to extend our time frame slightly into the summer. This will allow our group to review all the resources gathered to date, deliberate on main priorities/goals and identify areas that still need more work by the Board as we move into strategic planning. For comprehensive meeting minutes, please visit the web page. We have one more meeting scheduled on June 6th and discussed opportunities for additional meetings and community engagement.

    We also reviewed our scope of work: 1) Focus at a high-level 2) Identify core areas and draft recommendations to be considered by the board for the strategic plan 3) Use the committee’s equity definition as a framework when making recommendations 4) Deliberate and document where more information/work is needed

    Themes shared from the small group on social emotional environment for students:

    • Students' social emotional experience is connected to some degree to their academic programs. Students want to feel valued despite what academic program they are in and also seek more integration as a whole community.
    • Some structural issues with schedules, courses, class size, concentration of resources impact ability for students to engage fully in school community and programs. How do we customize learning paths for each learner?
    • Social hierarchy can be attached to academics, ability, disability status.
    • More should be explored on how the district uses data and how to best use it to inform district decisions and priorities. Qualitative vs quantitative. Be aware of bias in analysis. 
    • Prioritize underrepresented people in gathering more information. 
    • Prioritize mental health of students. 


    Opportunities for community engagement:

    • We encourage everyone to fill out our community feedback form which helps us gather our community's thoughts about what ACSD is doing well and what we can improve to ensure all students feel included and supported. 
    • ​​​​​​​A sub group will meet to discuss additional outreach to prioritize hearing from our entire community. We had discussed hosting in person events in May at our elementary schools to hear from parents. Scheduling made this difficult in May, but we will prioritize parent outreach. We welcome your thoughts on ways to engage ACSD community members, especially those who have barriers to engaging with our schools or sharing their perspectives: email or call Emily Blistein 802-382-1183

    Thank you, 
    Amanda Gomes (MUHS '23) Esther Charlestin (Middlebury Selectboard Member)

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  • April Co-Chair Update and Opportunities to Engage

    Posted by Emily Blistein on 4/28/2022 4:20:00 PM

    Dear ACSD Community, 

    The focus of the Advisory Committee's work is to gather and understand the views within our district about areas ACSD should prioritize in its upcoming strategic plan. Below, please find updates from our recent meeting and opportunities to engage. You can find all of our updates here

    April 4th Meeting:

    • We discussed two areas of the equity survey: staff perceptions and community outreach and engagement. Each topic had a small group which reviewed the Hanover survey results in more detail and prepared questions for the entire committee to discuss. 
    • The staff perceptions discussion highlighted the need to build trust between staff to do the equity work needed in the district. This includes taking time to build relationships between staff and district leaders to form collective ownership so we can truly do this work together; to look for ways to involve students in rethinking the learning process; and to seek direct input from all staff and use this feedback to further develop trust and consistent engagement in equity work by staff. The group noted the importance of regular and clear communication in this work between leaders and staff (and also students and larger school community).
    • We discussed several one-on-one and small group meetings that have occurred with staff, students, and families since our last meeting. We focused on a meeting with several ACSD families from the migrant farm worker community. Key takeaways included that families appreciated direct, in-person communication they receive in the first year, but after that it is hard to navigate the dense communication sent only by paper, or email. Creating and maintaining relationships between families and schools, specifically parents and teachers, is the most important thing. Migrant and multilingual families experience uncomfortable interactions with some negative interactions based on racism. We need to focus on systems and relationships so that all families feel safe and included. 
    • The community engagement and outreach discussion highlighted the lack of two-way communication between families and schools. We must decrease the reliance on heavy written communications, understand barriers, and make our communication more concise and focused and accessible. Relationships between families and schools drops as students move up grade levels. Need to increase engagement beyond use of standard parent teacher conferences and events. Also, let’s work to better understand a problem before jumping too quickly to fix it.

    Opportunities to engage:

    Our work will conclude with recommendations to the school board as they begin our next strategic plan. We welcome all staff, caregivers, and students community members to share their thoughts about how ACSD is doing creating a welcoming and inclusive environment: What is working well? What could we improve? What should we prioritize? The equity survey was one way the district is gathering data. We will soon have an analysis and interactive dashboard for you to review the results of the survey. You can also:

    • Share your perspective and experiences in this community feedback form. Responses will be anonymously shared with the advisory committee. 
    • We are planning 2 or 3 in-person events to listen to parents and community members about their perspectives and experiences with how ACSD can create an inclusive environment for all students and families. We will host these events at our elementary schools in May, please look for those dates in email and on our webpage within the next week.
    • If  you would like to share your feedback in a discussion, contact Emily ( 802-382-1183) and we will connect you with a member of our advisory committee.
    • You can find comprehensive notes from each of our meetings here

    Upcoming meetings and topics: All meetings will take place at 208 Charles Ave in Middlebury.

    • May 2th, 6:30-8pm - academic environment.
    • May 16th, 6:30-8pm - social environment. 
    • June 6 (final meeting to set recommendations). The committee will draft a report by mid June for the board.
    • August 27th, committee members are invited to meet with the ACSD school board to offer recommendations with discussion.


    Thank you and take care,

    Esther (Thomas) Charlestin, Middlebury Selectboard Member & Amanda Gomes, MUHS '23
    ACSD Advisory Committee Co-Chairs

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  • March Co-chair Update + Opportunities to Engage

    Posted by Emily Blistein on 3/15/2022 10:00:00 AM

    Dear ACSD Community, 

    Last month, we introduced ourselves and the ACSD Advisory Committee's work. As our committee work continues, we will provide updates by email and on our webpageThe focus of the Advisory Committee's work is to gather and understand the views within our district about areas ACSD should prioritize in its upcoming strategic plan. 

    Opportunities to engage:

    We welcome all staff, caregivers, and students community members to share their thoughts with us about how ACSD is doing creating a welcoming and inclusive environment: What is working well? What could we improve? What should we prioritize? Our work will conclude with recommendations to the school board as they begin our next strategic plan. We hope to hear from many members of our ACSD community. The equity survey was one way the district is gathering data. You can also:

    • Share your perspective and experiences in this new community feedback form. Responses will be anonymously shared with the advisory committee. 
    • We will have small group and one-on-one discussions to hear directly from you. We are prioritizing outreach to traditionally underrepresented voices, but welcome an invitation to speak with any group or individual. Contact Emily ( 802-382-1183) to set up a meeting for you or a group you represent.

    Committee updates: 

    • We held our third meeting in March just after the district-wide equity survey concluded.
    • At this meeting we worked to finalize our definition of equity. The definition will be used as a guide when looking at data from the equity survey and other data and feedback from our ACSD community. 
    • The committee also reviewed the raw data from the February survey. The group organized into four small groups to look at four main areas over the next two months: academic environment, social environment, staff perceptions and district engagement and outreach. The small groups will identify additional information needed to fully examine these topics and lead the full committee in a discussion on each topic. 
    • The committee also developed a graphic to illustrate its work over the next three months. View the graphic in English or Spanish

    Upcoming meetings and topics: All meetings will take place at 208 Charles Ave in Middlebury.

    • April 4th, 6:30-8pm  - 2 topics: staff perceptions on equity work and district engagement and outreach with the school community. 
    • May 2th, 6:30-8pm - academic environment.
    • May 16th, 6:30-8pm - social environment. 

    Thank you and take care,

    Esther Thomas & Amanda Gomes (MUHS ‘23)
    ACSD Advisory Committee Co-Chairs

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  • February Co-chair Update + Equity Survey Reminder

    Posted by Emily Blistein on 2/17/2022 1:00:00 PM

    Dear ACSD Community, 

    We are writing as the co-chairs of the newly formed Advisory Committee to the 2022 ACSD Strategic Plan to offer a brief introduction of our work. 

    First, we want to encourage you to take the Equity and Inclusion Survey that Superintendent Burrows sent earlier this month (the deadline was extended from 2/21 to 3/2 to allow for more participation). We hope you will take the opportunity to share your experiences with ACSD. The survey is one way we will collect data on current experiences and will be one of several upcoming opportunities to help inform ACSD about your current experiences in the district and how we can build a more equitable district. 

    We have just begun our work together as an Advisory Committee, and we want to briefly introduce that work to you.  Our primary goals as an Advisory Committee will be to: Help define equity in the Strategic Planning process; Advise on how to better engage the community in the process; Provide input on the data that is collected and what additional data should be collected by the district; and work in partnership with the ACSD Board and staff to develop priorities and determine how to work toward those priorities. 

    We look forward to engaging and encouraging as much community participation as possible. We invite you to stay up to date with our work via the strategic planning page and look for upcoming opportunities to engage with us and provide feedback as we work together to ensure bright outcomes for all of our students. 

    With thanks, 

    Esther Thomas & Amanda Gomes (MUHS ‘23)
    ACSD Advisory Committee Co-Chairs


    p.s. If you have immediate questions about this work, you can reply to Emily Blistein, ACSD Director of Communications and Engagement, at or 802-382-1183

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  • Equity and Inclusion Survey - open until 3/2/22

    Posted by Emily Blistein on 2/9/2022 7:05:00 AM

    Dear Parents/Caregivers,

    As part of ACSD's commitment to all students and to better understand who we are as a community, we are launching our Equity and Inclusion Survey. This is a chance to hear directly from you about our ongoing efforts to create a welcoming environment for our students, parents, and teachers from diverse backgrounds. 


    CLICK HERE to take the survey on your phone or computer. It will take about 15 minutes to complete, and will ask you questions about your experience in ACSD. The survey window has been extended to March 2nd at Midnight. It will also be sent to teachers and staff and students in 6th-12th grades. Students will have an opportunity to complete the survey during their advisory time, with more information coming directly from MUMS and MUHS.


    This survey is part of a greater effort to address equity in our district. We have partnered with an education market research firm, Hanover Research, to undertake a districtwide effort to better understand how we are doing and how we can build a more equitable district.


    This survey and other outreach this year, led by our Strategic Plan Advisory Committee, will provide critical information from which the ACSD Strategic Plan for Equity will be built. Your opinions, perceptions, needs, and hopes will help us set a path for what equity can look like within our schools and district. 


    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.


    With appreciation,

    Peter Burrows

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  • Strategic Plan Advisory Committee

    Posted by Emily Blistein on 12/1/2021 7:20:00 AM

    To help guide this work, ACSD sought applications for an advisory committee that would represent a diversity of perspectives from the ACSD community to help guide and inform the foundational equity work that will inform the 2022 Strategic Plan lead by the ACSD Board. Applications were accepted through November 2021 and the group will hold their first meeting in December 2021.


    The Advisory Committee will meet roughly monthly through the fall of 2022 to help define equity in the planning process, advise ACSD on how to better engage the community, provide input on what data should be collected by the district, and, work in partnership with the board and staff to develop priorities and then determine how to work towards those priorities. For more of the Advisory Committee's work you can visit the page HERE.


    From the work of the Advisory Committee, the ACSD School Board will launch the full strategic planning process.

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