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 email@example.com and Facilities Committee Chair Jennifer Nuceder at firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com 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.
Victoria Jette, Chairperson, ACSD Board
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