WINDHAM SOUTHEAST SCHOOL DISTRICT
53 Green Street
Brattleboro, VT 05301
NOTICE OF BOARD MEETING
The Windham Southeast School District Board will meet remotely at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 2, 2020 via Zoom:
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 937 1590 5602
One tap mobile
+13126266799,,93715905602#,,,,,,0#,,473053# US (Chicago)
+19292056099,,93715905602#,,,,,,0#,,473053# US (New York)
I. CALL TO ORDER – 6:00 p.m. – David Schoales, Board Chair
II. RECOGNITION OF VISITORS
III. CONSENT AGENDA
• CLERK’S REPORT – Approval of Minutes – November 18, 2020
Warrants of August 31, 2020
Warrant No. 1052 in the amount of $7,344.99
Warrant No. 1056 in the amount of 3,900.37
Warrant No. 1057 in the amount of 1,192.99
Warrant No. 1058 in the amount of 790,069.10
Warrants of November 2, 2020
Warrant No. 1121 in the amount of $14,164.25
Warrant No. 1123 in the amount of 94.69
Warrant No. 1124 in the amount of 372.27
Warrant No. 1125 in the amount of 4,601.41
Warrant No. 1126 in the amount of 56,064.86
Warrants of November 9, 2020
Warrant No. 1129 in the amount of $13,337.80
Warrant No. 1131 in the amount of 13,540.09
Warrant No. 1133 in the amount of 201.98
Warrant No. 1134 in the amount of 346.32
Warrant No. 1135 in the amount of 160,113.47
Warrant No. 1136 in the amount of 4,003.20
Warrants of November 16, 2020
Warrant No. 1137 in the amount of $29,396.42
Warrant No. 1138 in the amount of 89.91
Warrant No. 1139 in the amount of 505.00
Warrant No. 1140 in the amount of 860,143.86
Warrants of November 20, 2020
Warrant No. 1142 in the amount of $50.00
Warrant No. 1143 in the amount of 11,585.00
Warrant No. 1145 in the amount of 474.37
Warrant No. 1148 in the amount of 551.34
Warrant No. 1149 in the amount of 132,012.63
August 28, 2020 $1,251,902.20
November 9, 2020 $1,282,193.10
November 20, 2020 $1,417,444.16
• Pupil Weighting Study – Resolution – A coalition of school boards from around Vermont have joined to promote the implementation of the recommendations from the Vermont Pupil Weighting Factors Report required by the legislature. The WSESD Board has been asked to consider the following:
“Be it resolved, the WSESD hereby joins with other Vermont school boards to advocate to the Vermont legislature for the adoption of the recommendations of the Vermont Pupil Weighting Factors Report (Act 173 of 2018 § 11).
V. ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT
• Updates on efforts to keep our schools safe and effective; How are we recording lessons learned, especially around mental well-being.
• Update on creating a diverse candidate recruitment and retention development team.
• Report on diverse candidate recruitment and retention statewide efforts
VI. FISCAL REPORT
• Budget Planning
VII. COMMITTEE REPORTS
• Leadership Council Reports
• WSESD/WSESU Diversity/Equity Committee
• Finance Committee
• Personnel Committee
• Policy and Amendment Committee
• Programmatic and Performance Equity Committee
• Climate Crisis Task Force
• Communications Council
• Social Justice Committee
• WSESU Board
VIII. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
A. Policy Review
• D16 – Electronic Communications Between Employees and Students – 2nd Reading
• F37 – District Equity Policy – 2nd Reading
• F38 – Prevention of Sexual Harassment as Prohibited by Title IX – 2nd Reading
IX. NEW BUSINESS
A. Pupil Weighting Study – Resolution – Action Needed
X. Public Comment on Non-agenda Items
EXECUTIVE SESSION (If Needed)
Note: These proposed minutes should be considered preliminary until they are approved by the Board at a future meeting.
WINDHAM SOUTHEAST SCHOOL DISTRICT (WSESD) BOARD
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2020
REGULAR BOARD MEETING – 6:00PM
WSESD Board Members Present: David Schoales, Chair (DS); Liz Adams (LA); Anne Beekman (AB); Michelle Green (MG); Tim Maciel (TM); Shaun Murphy (SM); Emily Murphy-Kaur (EMK); Thomas Nolan (TN); Jaci Reynolds (JR); Kelly Young (KY)
WSESU Administrators Present: Andrew Skarzynski (Superintendent); Frank Rucker (Finance Director)
Media Present: Rich Melanson (BCTV)
Others Present: [note: Zoom allows attendees to log in without providing their complete names.] Dora Levinson, Janice Stockman, Amber Rose, Ashley Nadeau, Beth Bristol, Cory Sorensen, Debra Gass, Deb Schiller, Alison Cornellier, Moriah Carney, Eileen Parks, Ellen Tumavicus, Flo Levin, Herve Pelletier, Jon Sessions, Julianne Eagan, Kelly Dias, Kerry Amidon, Kylie Weld, Mark Speno, Mary Kaufmann, Mike Szostak, Mikaela Simms, Robin Macy, Sarah Cassidy, Shelley Wilson, Steve Perrin
I. CALL TO ORDER
Chair DS called the meeting to order at 6:03pm.
II. RECOGNITION OF VISITORS
– Early Education / Pre-K Providers – Presentation
DS recognized Dora Levinson, Moriah Carney, and Janice Stockman, who gave a presentation, with slides, on the district’s early education and pre-K programs as mandated by Act 166: Vermont’s Universal Pre-K Program.
• this program includes public and private entities
• what the program is
• how the program is organized and administered
• program qualifications
• its history, in the state and locally
• how partnerships help the district serve its students’ and families’ needs
• monthly reports are available
TM asked about early education programs for Special Education students, and how the district’s early education programs are preparing students this year for Kindergarten next year. Janice, Moriah, and Deb Gass responded with information about inclusion and support for Special Education students, strategies and practices the early education schools are using, and challenges they are facing.
JR spoke about her experiences with public pre-K programs, and asked about collaborations between public and private early education entities. Deb responded. Mary Kaufmann, principal of Oak Grove School, noted there are plans to expand public pre-K at Oak Grove School.
MG asked about eligibility requirements for enrollment, and how the group is doing outreach to the district’s parents. Janice and Dora responded with information about age eligibility, how programs are approved and the criteria used to approve them, outreach efforts, capacity, waiting lists, and reasons why some students arrive at Kindergarten without having attended pre-K.
DS asked about enrollment figures for Kindergarteners who never attended pre-K. Janice responded.
Moriah referred interested parties to the district’s website, which contains pre-K information.
DS asked if there were any initiatives or Legislative acts coming up this year that the Board could support.
Janice mentioned the Brattleboro Retreat’s proposed closing of the Mulberry Bush early education school, and that the decision may have been reversed, in part due to widespread community pressure.
Tara Castine asked about the scope of the presentation that was just given. Janice and Dora responded.
SM complimented the presenters on their knowledge and dedication.
DS asked for details on qualifications for early education teachers. Janice responded with information on licensing requirements.
DS asked about the number of licensed teachers at each early education facility. Janice responded.
DS thanked the three presenters.
Dora invited interested parties to contact either of the three presenters with their questions.
III. CONSENT AGENDA
– Clerk’s Report: Approval of the minutes of the November 4, 2020 meeting.
MOTION BY TN TO APPROVE THE NOVEMBER 4, 2020 MINUTES. TM SECONDED.
MOTION CARRIED 10-0.
No discussion or amendments.
DS reported he received a communication from the Burlington School Board about a coalition addressing the weighted study report and resolution. DS will send the information to the Board, and this item will be on the next Board meeting’s agenda.
V. ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT
– Social Justice / Anti-Racist Commitment Update with Reports from Teacher-Leaders
Mikaela Simms presented an update on the project, with additional reports from the teacher-leaders.
• The recent retreat for teacher-leaders.
• Mikaela is excited to have this infrastructure, and there has been a lot of activity.
• Eileen Parks, librarian at the Academy School, gave a report on the progress made at her school with staff programs.
• Mike Szostak from BUHS gave a report on the retreat, progress made at his school with staff programs, and that students are interested in participating.
• Ellen Tumavicus from Putney Central School gave a report on the program’s growth at her school, the robust staff involvement, the Black Lives Matter mural and how that’s changed the school’s curriculum, and their ongoing work with the school’s Leadership Council.
• Kylie Weld from Oak Grove School gave a report on the staff book club, and plans to diversify the school’s library.
• Shannon Kelly from Green Street gave a report on her school’s Diversity and Equity group, its founding and evolution, and student involvement, including a march in Brattleboro.
• Cory Sorensen from Guilford Central School gave a report on his school’s parent-staff committee and their achievements, study group, conversations, and projects like a lending library, the music teacher’s project, and the pending formation of a student social-justice club.
• Mikaela noted it makes a difference to have a teacher-leader in every school, even if that school was already doing social- and racial justice work, because it creates a structure and a touchstone.
DS thanked Mikaela and the teacher-leaders.
TM asked if the group discussed needs for students with physical disabilities. Mikaela, Shannon, and Eileen responded.
EMK asked if the group discussed how to measure their progress and effect on the schools. A discussion ensued. DS noted the Board will address outcomes later, and they are working on that with Superintendent Andy Skarzynski. Andy discussed this initiative is about addressing challenges before they come up, and changing the district’s culture to create a better environment for its students. While there are some opportunities for measuring progress, it’s important to remember this is a multi-year, comprehensive commitment, he added.
Cory spoke about the sub-committees the group created during their retreat, and how these subcommittees will create a cohesive path for the group, which will lead to outcomes in curriculum plans.
Andy said the group’s work is inspiring, and they are doing a lot.
– Report on Student Attendance and Engagement To-Date
Andy presented a slide show with data showing student attendance to-date, compared with last year’s attendance, for each school. He noted this information includes combined figures, but not separated, for remote and in-person students. What the data shows, said Andy, is that, in spite of concerns, attendance rates are good. DS asked about some of the figures.
Andy reported there were previous concerns about a large drop-off in enrollment from families choosing home-schooling, but that hasn’t happened.
What this data doesn’t show, said Andy, is the engagement rate, which is different from the attendance rate. The concern, he said, is how schools are supporting students who aren’t attending, and what happens to the students who have no contact with school. He discussed some protocols the schools are using to help students, especially those with no or inadequate internet.
DS asked how the district is helping students who are struggling with engagement. Andy responded and discussed concerns and challenges, especially with consistency, which is important for students. He also detailed some strategies staff is using to help kids—including those with inadequate internet—and the difference between asynchronous and synchronous learning, and concerns with screen-time. A discussion ensued.
MG asked about implementing a stronger feedback system to find out from students and families if school is going well for them. She expressed concerns with the long days of all-online learning for students who are in school remotely. She has received feedback that the students are miserable and the teachers are stressed, and she noted the presence of many vulnerable students. Andy responded, and noted he’s awaiting guidance on whether it’s safe to bring more students into school for more days per week. A discussion ensued.
LA asked if classes could be slightly shorter in duration so remote students can get breaks throughout the day. BUHS Principal Steve Perrin responded with information about how classes are structured, research on student and teacher attention-spans, and how this data informs BUHS class structures.
Steve added changes are possible, and that some changes could come from the feedback he’s received from students and staff.
TM asked Steve if he knew about a Florida virtual learning program. Steve responded.
MG asked if teachers are supporting off-screen time. A discussion ensued.
EMK asked about BUHS’s school-day structure. Steve responded.
Tara Castine expressed concerns with reopening schools because of COVID surges, and asked about future plans.
DS noted the Board is getting feedback, but they are not being data-conscious or scientific about BUHS students’ engagement, and the Board wants data. He expressed a need for parent and student feedback, more comprehensive feedback to include many more voices, a larger data set from which to make decisions, and that surveys could achieve this.
JR noted that for some remote learners, remote learning is working better than in-person learning. She encouraged those students and their families to contact Steve Perrin, too.
LA expressed her concern that Putney Central School has lost their Third Grade teacher for the rest of the year due to medical reasons. She asked if the departing teacher left any lesson plans. Herve Pelletier, principal of the school, responded, noting the school’s staffing challenges, which are exacerbated by COVID. DS commented. LA offered a suggestion. Herve responded. MG responded.
Beth Bristol commented, and asked about reopening schools. DS responded.
Tara Castine said she supports a survey.
MG expressed her support and confidence in Andy.
JR noted it is not appropriate as a Board member to try to guide Andy, and that she has confidence in him, too.
VI. FISCAL REPORT
– Report on COVID Reimbursements and Where Those Funds Are Going
Finance Director Frank Rucker discussed COVID reimbursements. He shared a document, “WSESU FY21 COVID Funding Requests,” which included grants and their amounts. The total amount requested for all grants is $2,693,737. Frank read through the grants and described what they are for, including air quality, the Windham Regional Career Center, child nutrition equipment, and CRF-LEA.
DS commented on Frank’s report, and asked about allocations and a surplus. Frank replied, and noted the ESSER funding may provide the district with a local funding surplus.
– Ongoing Budget Information
Frank reviewed the district’s financial statements and the language used in them to help educate Board members. He presented a document, “The Vermont Agency of Education Handbook for Financial Accounting of Vermont School Systems (Handbook II),” and noted all Board members have a link to this document. He went through some sections of the handbook and noted which ones Board members will find helpful to answer many of their questions and put financial information into context. He noted that the handbook explains things like budgets, audits, reporting, account codes, and how to find information in financial spreadsheets.
VII. COMMITTEE REPORTS
Academy School: EMK reported they met and discussed outdoor education, a report on outdoor gear purchases, how to obtain additional outdoor gear, the building’s addition / renovations project, and diversity and social justice initiatives.
Guilford Central School: SM reported they met, but he was unable to attend. The next meeting is November 19. Beth Bristol presented the report: The LC worked on developing ongoing agenda items to help them organize the agenda. They reviewed the Climate Crisis Task Force proposal, and they will submit feedback soon. They discussed remote-hybrid community-building, including hosting a parade; the quarterly meeting schedule and plans; and the school budget.
Oak Grove School: TM reported they met, and discussed parents’ concerns about what happens if a child tests positive for COVID—what will precipitate closing the school? They also discussed what school staff is learning about teaching and learning, and what of it can staff apply post-COVID; improving communications, including a survey; parent-teacher forums are going well; and, watch out for email scams.
Putney Central School: Ruby McAdoo reported they met and established a twice-monthly meeting cycle and meeting norms. They worked on identifying projects to do, how to engage remote learners, a class art project to connect the students, a parent-engagement discussion group on social justice and racial equity, social media outreach, a class-parent structure to support teachers, an analysis on the school’s outdoor structures, and a volunteer tutoring program. They also held the first of the community-engagement parent groups, which went well, said Ruby. She said a report to the Board will come soon. Ruby announced a new nominee to the council.
MOTION BY LA TO APPOINT AMY SUGIHARA TO THE PUTNEY CENTRAL SCHOOL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL. MG SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED 10-0.
Windham Regional Career Center (WRCC) Regional Advisory Board: AB reported they met that day. They discussed the WRCC’s enrollment being down: last year, there were 136 FTE students, and this year there are 96 FTE students. The reason, said AB, is because families are keeping their children in their home districts due to COVID. AB urged everyone to contact their legislators about CTEs and Vermont’s hold-harmless formulas. Also discussed: plans to open the WRCC four days per week, depending on COVID; the urgent need for an LNA instructor; marketing; and the pending completion of a very long and detailed Perkins Grant application. AB noted Director Nancy Wiese inherited a scheduling problem, and they are working on it. They are also investigating CTE funding. AB reported the Ruth Barton bench and award are in-progress and delayed by COVID. AB also reminded everyone that, “the people who we graduated from the Career Center are the people who have kept this country running” through COVID, and she hopes the Legislature can remember this when they make their funding decisions.
BUHS: Steve reported they met and discussed sports, winter sports, and how to get the Leadership Council further into the public—perhaps through forums.
MG reported this council met. They discussed how to support developing Leadership Councils. Some ideas include creating and distributing a list of council chairs and where to find meeting minutes, and a survey of chairs to gauge their interest in working with other chairs. If they are interested, said MG, the Communications Council can help with that. MG noted some Leadership Councils are sending their meeting announcements and agendas to everyone in their school community, and the Communications Council supports this and wants to see it replicated. MG presented a motion to legislate this.
MOTION BY MG FOR EACH SCHOOL’S LEADERSHIP COUNCIL AGENDA, PLUS ACCESS TO THAT MEETING, TO BE SENT AS AN ANNOUNCEMENT TO THEIR SCHOOL-WIDE BASE. LA SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED 10-0.
A discussion ensued on the motion, with DS, MG, and Andy participating. Andy supported it, and encouraged the Board to ask the Leadership Councils to establish deadlines for sending out the agenda announcements. A discussion ensued on who will send them and how they will do it.
MG continued her report on the council’s recent meeting: They continued their work on an opt-in, district-wide email list, which should be finished soon; they requested improvements to simplify the WSESD website and make it more user-friendly. A discussion ensued on making website improvements, developing a timeline for completing the work, and how to include the Leadership Councils in this project. Andy, DS, and MG participated.
POLICY AND AMENDMENT COMMITTEE
AB announced this committee will meet at 4:30pm on 11/24.
PROGRAMMATIC AND PERFORMANCE EQUITY COMMITTEE
EMK reported this committee met and discussed updates on the Title IX report. She noted a proposal is coming soon. The committee is interested in Andy’s engagement data, especially on students without internet, and they are gathering information on those students and other low-engagement students.
SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE
TN announced this committee will meet in early-December.
VIII. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
There was none.
IX. NEW BUSINESS
A. Proposal for Australian Ballot Vote on Town Meeting Day – Action Needed
DS introduced the subject: Given current COVID-19 restrictions, it is most unlikely that the District’s Annual Meeting can take place in-person on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. The proposal is for the District’s Annual Meeting warning articles; including, budget, district officers, and board salaries, etc. to be voted via Australian Ballot on Town Meeting Day, March 2, 2021.
DS asked for the Board’s questions and suggestions.
Frank announced he revised the budget timeline and put it on the website. He reviewed the new timeline with the Board to make sure it fits in with the Town Meeting Day proposal, and that it meets with statutory requirements.
DS noted that if the budget vote is moved to March 2, the Board will not have adequate figures from the state. Thus, he said, there’s an advantage to making the budget vote later in the year.
LA asked if Brattleboro’s Town Meeting will affect the school budget. DS replied: not anymore.
SM expressed support for the March 2 proposal because it’s more cost-effective, and will encourage greater participation because many voters are already attending Town Meeting. He does not support having the budget vote later in the year.
DS agreed, and noted the district can’t prepare employment contracts if they hold the budget vote later in the year, which is a bad idea.
Andy agreed, especially because of the staff contracts, and noted how stressful it is to not have these contracts.
Frank reported Barb Nowakowski asked many town clerks for their opinions, and they support holding the budget vote on March 2 for the reasons SM offered.
DS noted some Board members’ terms are ending in 2021, and he asked the Board to think about how they will organize nominations and petitions for candidates.
MOTION BY DS THAT WSESD APPROVES AN AUSTRALIAN BALLOT VOTE ON TOWN MEETING DAY, MARCH 2, 2021, FOR THE PURPOSES OF APPROVING THE BUDGET, ELECTING DISTRICT OFFICERS, SETTING BOARD SALARIES, ETC. SM SECONDED.
MOTION CARRIED 10-0.
There was no further discussion on this motion.
B. Policy Review: First Reading on D16 – Electronic Communications Between Employees and Students, F37 – District Equity Policy, and F38 – Prevention of Sexual Harassment as Prohibited by Title IX.
DS gave brief explanations of the proposed policies. He noted the vote will occur at a future meeting, and this was the first reading.
Andy noted there’s an error in the .pdf of the policies, which will be corrected.
X. PUBLIC COMMENT ON NON-AGENDA ITEMS
There was none.
There was none.
MOTION BY AB TO ADJOURN. LA SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED 10-0.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:03pm.
Respectfully submitted by Wendy M. Levy from minutes taken by Wendy M. Levy.
This represents my understanding of the above dated meeting. If you have any changes, please submit them at the next Board meeting.