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, November 4, 2020 via Zoom:
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Meeting ID: 953 2996 3163
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I. CALL TO ORDER – 6:00 p.m. – David Schoales, Board Chair
II. RECOGNITION OF VISITORS
• Food Connects – Sheila Humphries and Conor Floyd will provide an overview of Farm to School in the district, highlighting each school and their unique Farm to School Program, and celebrate the Brattleboro Town Schools’ enhanced nutrition standards, which are a model that inspires other schools throughout the state.
III. CONSENT AGENDA
• CLERK’S REPORT – Approval of Minutes – October 21 and 27, 2020
Warrants of October 5, 2020
Warrant No. 1090 in the amount of $ 5,516.50
Warrant No. 1093 in the amount of 379.00
Warrant No. 1094 in the amount of 770,654.69
Warrants of October 13, 2020
Warrant No. 1095 in the amount of $ 2,459.99
Warrant No. 1096 in the amount of 175.00
Warrant No. 1097 in the amount of 12,409.98
Warrant No. 1101 in the amount of 1,835,675.21
Warrant No. 1103 in the amount of 2,933.34
Warrant No. 1104 in the amount of 83,134.75
Warrants of October 19, 2020
Warrant No. 1106 in the amount of $9,477.00
Warrant No. 1107 in the amount of 650.00
Warrant No. 1108 in the amount of 420.99
Warrant No. 1109 in the amount of 174,581.86
Warrant No. 1110 in the amount of 582.50
Warrant No. 1111 in the amount of 317.40
Warrants of October 26, 2020
Warrant No. 1113 in the amount of $8,415.86
Warrant No. 1117 in the amount of 449.00
Warrant No. 1118 in the amount of 6,044.14
Warrant No. 1119 in the amount of 641.26
Warrant No. 1120 in the amount of 137,692.70
October 9, 2020 $1,277,566.87
October 23, 2020` $1,326,382.15
V. ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT
• Elementary Principals – Outdoor Education
o Current Planning
o Holiday Break Transitions / COVID Guidelines
• Special Education Presentation – Shelley Wilson, Director of Special Education
– Review of recent AOE research reports and implications for our program; description of areas where we have the greatest needs an are focusing extra attention; pandemic challenges and how we are currently addressing special education needs; and steps that are being taken to improve communications with families.
• Status Update on the Move from Step 2 to Step 3
VI. FISCAL REPORT
• Ongoing Budget Information
VII. COMMITTEE REPORTS
• Leadership Council Reports
o LC’s Transparency – Explore Principals’ Budget Requests
• 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. Climate Crisis Task Force Proposal (attached) – Discussion/Possible Action –
The Board will take up the tabled motion to have the Policy and Amendments Committee develop policies related to the ongoing climate crisis, specifically:
• educate and prepare our students for the future;
• significantly reduce consumption;
• protect students, staff, and our community from environmental harm
• preserve and regenerate current and future resources;
• continually review implementation.
IX. NEW BUSINESS
A. Discussion – How to meaningfully engage students at board meetings and on hiring committees.
B. WSESD Board Ethics Pledge
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, OCTOBER 21, 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), Chris Mays (Brattleboro Reformer),
Others Present: [note: Zoom allows attendees to log in without providing their complete names.]
Wendy M. Levy (WSESD Board Recorder), Ali Cornellier, Allie, Allison Paquette, Amy Skolnick, Ann Rink, Celena Romo, Chelsea Wiehl, Chris Day, Chris Sawyer, Darilynn Birse, David Longsmith, Deb Kardane, Deb Schiller, Debra Gass, Elizabeth Scanlon, Ellen Nam, Ellen Tumavicus, Elyse Wadsworth, Eric Libardoni, Erin Hilow, Erin Tkaczyk, Gary Parzych, Jane Geidel, Jessica Farquhar, Jessica Montenieri, John Gagnon, Jkelley, Jodi Nutting, Jody Normandeau, Jon Sessions, Julianne Eagan, Keith Lyman, Kelly Dias, Kerri Beebe, Kerry Amidon, Kitsie Larock, Kylie Weld, Liz Casarella, Liz Dimick, Logan Robinson, Maggie, Maria Renaud, Marilyn Chiarello, Mark Speno, Mary Beth Porter, Mary Kaufmann, Matt Betz, M Auerbach, Mhood, Michal Lonergan, Moriah Carney, Nancy Wiese, Paul Smith, Rebecca Speisman, Robin Morgan, Rotina Gong, Ruby McAdoo, Sarah Cassidy, Scott Davenport, Shannon Kelly, Shelley Wilson, Snoren, Steve Perrin, Stephanie Pike, Tom Daughton, Vincent Giamartino, Nicholas Yialiades
I. CALL TO ORDER
Chair DS called the meeting to order at 6:02pm.
III. CONSENT AGENDA
MOTION BY TM TO APPROVE THE MINUTES FROM THE OCTOBER 7, 2020 MEETING. AB SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
II. RECOGNITION OF VISITORS
DS reviewed meeting protocols, including protocols specific to online meetings.
DS announced amendments to the agenda.
DS announced pre-K partners will be on the agenda for the November 18 Board meeting.
DS said all communications received by the Board will be addressed during Committee Reports.
V. FISCAL REPORT
Finance Director Frank Rucker gave his report.
Frank reviewed COVID funding available to WSESD.
Frank presented a lengthy discussion and review of the document “Summary of COVID expenses 3/1/20 to 10/15/20.” Highlights included:
• the CRF-LEA grant
• the Legislature made a substantial increase to this funding, which doubled the grant, and Frank
expects total reimbursement for COVID-related expenses
• ventilation projects at the Academy and Guilford Central schools: the work done will bring those systems to compliance, and will be completed within the grant period
• the ESSR grant
• the financial report and some its segments
• TM asked a question about the Oak Grove School’s expenses relating to the CRF-LEA grant.
• the district has adequate PPE/safety equipment, and is not currently affected by shortages.
• an explanation of the district’s schools’ difference in expenses under the CRF ventilation grant DS asked Frank to discuss bond amortization. Frank explained it and pointed out where interested parties can find it: the Vermont Bond Bank’s website at vtbondbank.org, then “loan search.” A discussion ensued on the three different outstanding WSESD bonds. Frank noted these bonds are included in the annual audit. Frank explained how these bonds are connected to the budget, and which function codes include it, and where to find it. Frank shared a detailed bond payment schedule, including the interest and principal amounts, when they’ll be paid off, and how it relates to the current budget, and the FY22 budget.
JR asked about paying off Putney’s debt earlier to save money on the interest. Frank explained that early pay-offs aren’t possible, and the interest rate is low, but he will continue to pursue this option.
SM asked about the relationship between the Legislature’s spending cap for the district and the bond debt. Frank explained the many factors that go into this district’s financial considerations, including its facilities needs and debt. DS noted that, because of long-time disinvestment, many of the district’s buildings are in need of repairs. Tara Castine asked about improvements to Putney Central School.
Frank mentioned the Capital Plan and its relevance to bonds: it’s a reinvestment in the district’s assets, such as facility infrastructure like the roof and boiler.
VI. ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT
Superintendent Andy Skarzynski gave his report. Highlights included:
• details on the continuous assessment of the district’s potential transition from Step 2 to Step 3
• staff’s identification of a group of students to bring back to on-site learning
• the administration is awaiting pending guidance from the state, including details on holiday travel
• the administration surveyed staff and received 133 responses. Highlights included:
◦ assessing plans for Wednesdays
◦ responses from hybrid and remote teachers
◦ concerns, including balancing the workload
◦ needs, including more tech support
◦ many teachers are excited to bring students back to the classroom.
• Andy sends a weekly email to the staff, and the survey was included in that
•the administration continues to plan and solicit feedback DS noted the survey had a low response rate. Andy surmised it’s because teachers are tired. SM expressed concerns with a possible COVID surge. Is the district prepared to return to fully-remote learning, SM asked. Andy responded with commentary on multi-dimensional planning, and noted there are many options for returning—or not—if there’s a surge. He is awaiting guidance from the Agency of Education and the governor. DS mentioned the state’s COVID dashboard, its history, and new cases. DS noted he has received many communications about school reopening. Oak Grove School Principal Mary Kaufmann announced the new Oak Grove Leadership Council candidates: Hannah Tustin and Corey DiMario
MOTION BY JR TO ACCEPT THE NOMINATIONS OF HANNAH TUSTIN AND COREY DIMARIO TO THE OAK GROVE SCHOOL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL. EMK SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Andy announced the new Putney Central School Leadership Council candidates: Ruby McAdoo, Tara Castine, Jaime Contois, Marie Deroualt, Herve Pelletier, Lynne Borofsky, and Steve Hed.
MOTION BY LA TO ACCEPT THE NOMINATIONS OF RUBY MCADOO, TARA CASTINE, JAIME CONTOIS, MARIE DEROUALT, HERVE PELLETIER, LYNNE BOROFSKY, AND STEVE HED TO THE PUTNEY CENTRAL SCHOOL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL. TM SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Andy announced a tentative hire to the teaching staff, but did not provide the person’s name. Deb Kardane discussed the recruitment and hiring process. TM asked about diversity-related recruitment methods. DS noted the challenge of the Board approving a motion for a new hire without knowing that person’s name. A discussion ensued. DS concluded that he wanted to do this correctly, and agreed to call a special meeting to approve this person once their name can be announced.
VII. COMMITTEE REPORTS
Moriah Carney asked the Board for their questions so she can include them in the November report. DS will remind Board members to review the current report to prepare for the November report.
Guilford Central School LC: SM reported they met on October 16, and there were 11 attendees. Beth Bristol is the Chair. Principal John Gagnon gave a comprehensive report. They planned events to improve the connection between the remote- and hybrid communities.
Academy School: Principal Kelly Dias reported the LC and PTO held a joint meeting, and they discussed mutual goals, group norms, missions, a survey, and re-entry.
Putney Central School: Ruby McAdoo reported they met recently. They discussed family engagement, the Diversity Committee, the Black Lives Matter mural, the Putney Equity & Inclusion Committee, that this LC really wants an LC summit, establishing a dual regular meeting cycle to accommodate staff and working parents, the LC recruitment process and intentions, a fruitful meeting with Principal Herve Pelletier, and a focus on values. Beth Bristol noted that anyone can attend Guilford’s LC meetings, and she specifically invited the Putney LC members. Ruby noted it would be helpful to have a platform for LC Chairs to communicate with one another and view their meeting schedules.
Brattleboro Area Middle School: Principal Keith Lyman reported they met on October 20. It was a small group with good energy. They discussed a survey, group goals—including increasing participation. Keith announced the next meeting is November 10.
DS noted some ideas for LC discussion.
WSESD/WSESU DIVERSITY/EQUITY COMMITTEE
AB reported this committee recently met and discussed the defacement of the Putney Black Lives Matter mural, a retreat, how to deal with resistance, the difference between racist/non-racist/antiracist/ etc., and how to bring parents and community members into the committee.
SM reported this committee has not met, and will meet on November 4.
KY reported this committee has not met.
POLICY AND AMENDMENT COMMITTEE
AB reported this committee has not met.
PROGRAMMATIC AND PERFORMANCE EQUITY COMMITTEE
EMK reported this committee met, and discussed their plans, and new items for their tracker: COVID protocols, equity in internet access, and asynchronous/synchronous learning.
CLIMATE CRISIS TASK FORCE
TN will present a report later in the Board meeting.
MG reported this council has not met.
SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE
TN announced this committee will meet on October 26 and will continue the plan implementation.
Kerry Amidon reported the SU has not met.
VIII. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
A. PROGRAMMATIC AND PERFORMANCE EQUITY COMMITTEE TITLE IX REPORT
EMK presented a PowerPoint: “Title IX Self-Study Recommendations” of the Programmatic and Performance Equity Committee, which was completed with the assistance of Chris Sawyer. EMK explained that Chris created a comprehensive report on the study of gender equity in school athletics.
Highlights of the PowerPoint and of Chris’s report included:
• equivalence in athletics: benefits and opportunities
• the committee’s and Chris’s reports focused on seven different categories, some of them are outof- scope or beyond Title IX, and they developed recommendations for each of them
• working with other Board committees on the recommendations, and on outreach, for example, on survey requests
• how to bring in more BIPOC and female coaches
• the status of facilities—especially the weight room, who is using it and not, what can be done to expand girls using it, a survey of girls and non-athletes on the weight room, and if bringing in a facilitator for the weight room will increase usage among girls and non-athletes Ruby asked questions seeking to clarify whether the report is solely about BAMS/BUHS, not elementary schools, and why this report is framed this way. EMK responded: yes, it’s about BUHS, and BAMS students doing co-curricular activities, and she explained why.
MG asked EMK to share the report with the Board. DS said it will go on the website. EMK encouraged everyone to read it, and noted that Chris created a great and thorough report.
EMK continued with the Board’s next steps, what they are, how the Board can implement them, and challenges to doing so (mostly COVID-related).
Eric Libardoni asked the Board if they could hire a part-time strength-and-conditioning coach to increase access and usage. EMK and DS discussed.
TN and TM said the report is thorough and ready for approval.
SM asked if this report will create extra work for individuals. DS responded: yes. SM replied that he would be more comfortable approving this report if he knew about the burden on the staff. Andy appreciated that COVID has added extra stress to staff, and this adds to it. He asked everyone to share their concerns. DS noted this work started before COVID, and the Board wants to hire an outside contractor for the survey.
DS led the Board through the report’s recommendations and discussed which of them will add labor. A discussion ensued between DS, EMK, and Andy on the process and recommendations. Chris added he is seeking recommendations on some of the policies. EMK asked if the Policy and Amendment Committee and the Programmatic Performance and Equity Committee can work together on this. A discussion ensued.
Celena Romo made some suggestions.
Tara Castine requested better outreach about sports opportunities.
B. CLIMATE CRISIS TASK FORCE (CCTF) PROPOSAL
TN gave some background on the CCTF’s formation, and Board mandates for it. He explained the CCTF’s recent work: creating a nine-page proposal, “WSESD Climate Crisis Policy Proposal.” TN gave an overview of the proposal, including its background and ethos. He read the proposal’s five priorities and 13 methods for implementation. It includes such subjects as food waste, heating fuel, recyclables, transportation, the district’s carbon footprint, consumption mindset, etc.
DS asked for a clarification on the proposal.
A lengthy discussion ensued on the proposal. A number of Board members spoke about it. Highlights included:
• KY’s support of the composting suggestions, and her concerns with the food-related item and the possible conflicts with the decision on the sports fields. TN responded.
• JR discussed the food item and how to work with the schools’ food-service companies to make changes. TN responded.
• SM agreed with KY’s concerns. A discussion ensued on Board mandates and policy-change procedures. TN responded.
• DS discussed the difference between policy proposals and directives. He noted this proposal indicates the Board’s responsibility toward representing the community’s values. TN added this proposal sets an example for students, the community, and other districts.
• EMK thanked TN and the CCTF for their great job on this. She asked questions about the procedure for passing and implementing these recommendations.
• TN, SM, and DS discussed the CCTF’s tasks as dictated by the Board and voters at the Annual Meeting.
• KY, TN, and DS discussed the procedure for addressing Board members’ concerns before sending it to the Policy and Amendment Committee.
• SM expressed concerns with some financial aspects of implementing these recommendations. TN responded.
• LA discussed the difference between the two parts of the proposal: the policies, and methods of implementation. She noted the methods are hard to grasp, but the policies are clearer, and the Board should focus on those. TN responded.
• TM discussed the Rich Earth Institute and its relevance to this proposal.
• TN discussed the costs of climate change and trying to mitigate it, and the effect of putting financial costs ahead of making this commitment.
• MG praised the CCTF and the proposal. She agreed with LA’s recommendation to focus on policies first, and then discuss methods in future meetings.
• TN noted the proposal’s controversial nature and its importance.
• KY expressed her concerns with some of the language used in the proposal, the financial implications for local people, and that the proposal is binding. TN responded with the mention of three recessions so far this century, and that the climate crisis won’t wait until “we figure out our economy and capitalism.” He noted this will only get more expensive, and there will never be a time when we have plenty of money.
• SM asked about student travel. TN responded.
• MG asked if there was a different approach from “all-or-nothing.” TN responded: the Board can decide how much of this proposal it wants to implement.
MOTION BY EMK TO REFER THIS POLICY TO THE POLICY AND AMENDMENT COMMITTEE TO PROPOSE A POLICY TO THE BOARD. MG SECONDED.
Prior to the vote, a discussion ensued between the Board and Andy on the policy and procedures for proposing and changing a policy.
Additionally, a lengthy discussion ensued when DS opened up the discussion to the floor. A number of attendees, including WSESD staff, spoke about the proposal. Those who spoke included: Marilyn Chiarello, Scott Noren, Dan Cornellier, Anne Koplinka-Loehr, Ali West, Beth Bristol, Frank Rucker, Stephanie Pike, Mary Beth Porter, Mark Speno, Celena Romo, Keith Lyman, Kristie Henderson, Tara Castine, Matt betz, Nancy Wiese, Deb Kardane, and Eric Libardoni.
DS clarified the process for making policy changes.
TN noted the CCTF is a task force, not a committee, and all meetings have been warned and open to the public, for a year, and that the CCTF includes people outside of the Board, and Brattleboro’s sustainability coordinator.
Andy clarified the role, per statute, of the Board and the Superintendent of Schools, in establishing policy. DS noted it’s not a fine line, and the division is the subject of an ongoing discussion.
TN discussed the great progress the district is already making, but noted it’s not in the proposal.
EMK noted the Diversity and Equity proposal was, in fact, a policy, and that was deemed acceptable. And, she added, the CCTF was created on the floor at the Annual Meeting—it’s a reflection of the community’s values. Diversity and Equity, she pointed out, is a district-led proposal. She asked if some of the attendees’ defensiveness is due to the way this proposal was developed.
SM noted this particular discussion has been collaborative, and he suggested tabling it to continue the conversation. EMK asked SM to clarify his statement vis-a-vis the danger of passing the motion. SM responded: this is the community’s first view of the policy, and the Board should give them more time to review and discuss it at a Board meeting. MG supported SM’s suggestion, and added she wants to review this proposal with the Dummerston Leadership Council. A discussion ensued between TM, EMK, DS, and LA on the merits of tabling this proposal or not, and time considerations of both decisions.
MOTION BY MG TO TABLE THE CLIMATE CRISIS TASK FORCE’S PROPOSAL TO THE NEXT BOARD MEETING. KY SECONDED. VOTE TAKEN BY ROLL CALL:
MOTION TO TABLE PASSED: 6-4
DS outlined the next steps to prepare for the motion at the November 4 meeting. Mark Speno, Principal at the Green Street School, asked the Board to include the Leadership Councils in this process. SM noted he sent this proposal to the Guilford Central School’s Leadership Council.
IX. NEW BUSINESS
A. PROPOSAL TO CREATE A BOARD SOCIAL JUSTICE STUDY GROUP
DS said he wasn’t sure where this proposal came from, and he’d like to forward it to the Social Justice Committee.
X. PUBLIC COMMENT ON NON-AGENDA ITEMS
Shannon Kelly spoke about bringing back Kindergarten and First Grade students. She said it’s a major endeavor, considering the possible COVID surge(s). She requested the Board carefully consider it. DS responded.
THERE WAS NO EXECUTIVE SESSION AT THIS MEETING MOTION BY AB TO ADJOURN. SM SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:56pm.
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.
WSESD Board special meeting – 10/27/2020
Emily Murphy Kaur
Called to order: 6:00PM
MOTION: Approve hiring of 2 new teachers