Return to Headlines

January 31, 2022 - Meeting Notes

  • ACSD Advisory Committee Agenda - January 31, 2022 - NOTES
    6:30pm-8pm ACSD Facility Building, 208 Charles Ave, Middlebury


    -Group did a round of introductions and answered a prompt on intersectionality of their identities. The discussion helped to further deepen understanding how intersectional identity creates disadvantages and advantages as well as the complexities of our work based on individual bias and lived experience. Emma offered this definition: 

    • Intersectionality: the interconnected nature of social categories, such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, which create systems of disadvantage or discrimination (or advantage or privilege).
      "through an awareness of intersectionality, we can better acknowledge and ground the differences among us"


    -Group reviewed group agreements and added to to #4 Who Speaks First: “people living in poverty” 


    -The group was asked for self nominations to serve as co-chairs of the advisory group. The roles are largely liaisons to the facilitator (Emma) and district to help give feedback on agendas and time sensitive information in the work ahead in between committee meetings. Amanda Gomes (student) and Esther Thomas (community member) volunteered and the committee unanimously supported them. 

    -The group discussed how it would like to set group priorities in its work and final recommendations to the school board. Emma noted several approaches could be used - informal consensus building, formal consensus or some sort of majority-based voting system. 

    -The role of the committee is to distill all of the community input, survey data, and discussions into recommendations to the school board. The Board will formally vote on what goes into the strategic plan. 

    -The group decided to use informal consensus for decisions for now and revisit as needed if decisions get tricky and need a different approach. Informal consensus means using concepts of consensus where people work to understand each other (instead of debate) and strive to advance ideas that have full support, but do not use the formal consensus system of “blocking” decisions or other formal steps of full consensus decision making.  



    -The group reviewed where we left off on equity definition work in December by reviewing definitions offered at the last meeting as well as synthesized ideas from small group work. The group is working to create a plain language definition understood and shared by the committee so people have a common understanding. The group broke into 3 small groups to try to develop 2-3 sentence definitions. The groups reported out and the following concepts were shared: 


    • Equity is listening and respecting all voices in a community as to each person has a path to inclusion and success. Also asking. Also, not everyone is ready to hear or can hear. Explanation/Believing. Empathy. 
    • Equity is the practice of adjusting based on everyone’s needs in order to give everyone opportunity, including those who need more help to access opportunity. 
    • Equity means giving people different opportunities so they can have equal access to success. 
    • Is this about students or district as whole or community? Different perspective changes definition 
    • Word need is central. Who decides what need is and defines success and inclusion?
    • Actions and behaviors and how to do so equitable ways
    • Try to explain equity within definition to explain different backgrounds and limitations and how to remove those limitations)
    • Educational equity means students are getting what they need in order to grow in social, emotional and academic ways.
    • Define equity first and then say what you do second. Equity makes it possible for those without power and privilege to learn more fully. You do so by removing barriers for those most impacted by a lack of power and privilege. “Equity begins with listening to needs of your community, identifying need first”

    Due to time constraints, Emma and the new co chairs will work to distill these concepts into a draft definition for the committee and share it before the next meeting. 


    Emma reminded the group that a definition can serve as an important framework for making decisions and viewing information. A framework could be, for example, “How does our equity definition apply here? Or when we look at this topic and use our equity definition, what would be more equitable?  



    Emma & Emily reviewed ACSD’s proposed community engagement ideas to gather more data/information/stories from the school community. They asked for feedback from committee members on what is missing and/or should be modified to reach all aspects of the community, especially those hard to reach and/or who feel unheard. 


    The proposed ideas include:

    • Web form and email offered for people to share more open ended responses and personal narrative
    • Hanover survey (Feb 7-18)
    • Focus groups/small group discussions and/or one-on-one conversations with particular groups of our community: 1) minoritized students, 2) English Language Learning parents/caregivers, 3) parents/caregivers of Title 1 students. These would be confidential meetings with trusted ACSD staff

    The committee offered several more ideas/variations:

    • For the focus groups, would economically marginalized families be a separate group for consideration? Unclear how to reach folks who are economic marginalized and there are other families who also feel disconnected and unable to assert their ideas/concerns.
    • Conversations with student groups (in Individuals and Societies classes) or student ambassadors
    • 10-15 minutes in building staff meetings to collect questions and observations
    • I think it’s crucial for the school to express their intentions; power and privilege can shape individual perceptions and actions taken with positive intentions can easily come off as targeted and inconsiderate of certain belief sets
    • Include a website but with in depth definitions that explain the goals of the community
    • Link website in email for easy access (curiosity)
    • Close minded people are hard to include but they are a large part of the community
    • Make all and any voice feel encouraged to interact (I notice more right-leaning folks are harder to include but they are also parts of minoritized groups)
    • Listening to special ed teachers -- for them to name barriers
    • Paper survey
    • Open office hours for folks on the web and in person (at different locations)
    • For outreach, we’re missing demographics - do we have representation from all groups? What if we don’t? 
    • Offer to survey in person @ supermarkets or western union on payday with people who speak spanish, at the open door clinic
    • Inventory families who are ELL
    • For the online survey, how do we make it accessible to those without a computer
    • Can we push website updates out through other means
    • Call “focus groups”< “listening circles”
    • For 1:1 conversations, how do we ensure these happen with marginalized people
    • Add “parents of boys” to listening circles - data on this is essential.
    • Use WhatsApp to communicate with families and/or text to push out survey and other information 


    -Next meeting is March 7th at 6:30pm

    -Hanover Survey launches on Feb 7 and runs to Feb 18

    -There will likely be some raw data to review ahead of our next meeting from the Hanover survey