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
TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 2023
REGULAR BOARD MEETING – 6:00PM
HYBRID MEETING: WRCC CUSICK CONFERENCE ROOM, BRATTLEBORO, AND
REMOTELY VIA ZOOM
WSESD Board Members Present: Chair Kelly Young (KY), Anne Beekman (AB), Lana Dever (LD), Tim Maciel (TM), Ruby McAdoo (RMA), Robin Morgan (RM), Shaun Murphy (SM), Eva Nolan (EN), Kimberly Price (KP), Deborah Stanford (DS). non-voting members: Kaiya Colby (KC)
WSESU/SD Staff and Administrators Present: Chris Brewer, Cassie Damkoehler, Julianne Eagan, Susan Gunther-Mohr, Traci Lane, Marisa Lazarus, Keith Lyman, Kate Margaitis, Stacey
Mousseau, Hannah Parker, Frank Rucker, Jon Sessions, Paul Smith, Mark Speno, Nicole Thomas, Nancy Wiese
Others Present: Mindy Haskins Rogers, Kerry Amidon, BUHS students Theia Wepaloki, Lucy Corbin, Habame Scholz-Karabakakis, Django Grace; Dummerston School students Banyan Altshuler, Ava Kennedy, and Aaron Harrison; Putney Central School students Peyton Brownell, Lauren Chute, Kaylee Kelley, and Juliette Pals
Please note: attendance may be incomplete
I. CALL TO ORDER
KY called the meeting to order at 6:04pm.
KY amended the agenda to include an executive session to take place at the beginning of the meeting.
DS amended the agenda to add a motion later in the meeting and announced that the consideration of Policy F35 is on hold until April 25.
SM asked to move the Fiscal Report up to after the warrants because the Finance Committee has something for the board to consider.
MOTION BY DS TO FIND THAT PREMATURE GENERAL PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE WOULD
CLEARLY PLACE THE PUBLIC BODY OR PERSON INVOLVED IN SUBSTANTIAL
DISADVANTAGE, REGARDING GRIEVANCES OTHER THAN TAX GRIEVANCES. MOTION
MOTION BY LD FOR THE BOARD TO ENTER INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION UNDER 1 VSA
§313(a)(1)(E), REGARDING GRIEVANCES OTHER THAN TAX GRIEVANCES. MOTION
The board entered into Executive Session at 6:07
The board suspended the Executive Session at 6:55 without taking action.
II. ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT – Student Leadership Examples
PCS students Peyton Brownell, Lauren Chute, Kaylee Kelley and Juliette Pals presented about the Putney Central School Student Leadership Team, with their advisors, teachers Marisa Lazarus and Susan Gunther-Mohr. They collaborated with Dummerston School in a workshop with John Ungerlieder and Lauren MacArthur of Greater Falls Community Justice. Students learned about restorative justice circles and asking open ended questions. The PCS Student Leadership Team plans to incorporate a peer mediation model at their school.
Some other projects the leadership team worked on were creating a video of schoolwide expectations for student behavior on the playground and in the cafeteria, and organizing Kindness Week. Kindness week included a daily spirit week themes and events such as a tie- dye extravaganza culminating in an all-school photo with students standing in a heart formation. The leadership team also read to elementary grades about kindness and they are planning a community assembly.
Julianne Eagan gave some background on what student leadership looks like at the Dummerston School. Every student is considered a leader and signs a social contract that they create each year. Students have the opportunity to run all-school meetings, lead parent-teacher conferences, work on facilities projects with Mr. Bailey, and older students can act as mentors to younger ones.
Dummerston students Banyan Altshuler, Ava Kennedy, and Aaron Harrison, and school counselor Nicole Thomas, presented about their student leadership team for 6th-8th graders, which is called ASSET. ASSET members focus on what leadership means and how to help all students feel a sense of belonging. Some of their projects this year have included a spirit week with themes like neon day and backpack day in December and a dodgeball tournament in March, and a food drive for Project Feed the Thousands which exceeded their goal, collecting 650 pounds of food. To celebrate they held a schoolwide movie and pajama day. ASSET
students organized an all-school meeting about Black Lives Matter at School, together with a bulletin board project and student read alouds to younger classrooms on that theme. Last year they reviewed the school’s climate data and they will soon review this year’s data and examine how school climate has improved and what they can do to continue making things better. They are planning a project with mural artist Negina Azimi to create a mural with a theme of justice. Paul Smith noted that Cassandra Holloway has been involved in running this middle school leadership program of which these school-based teams are a part.
III. STUDENT MATTERS (5-10 Minutes)
BUHS student Django Grace requested that the board schedule a discussion and update on Natowich field. Grace called the board’s attention to a bill in the legislature, S25, which bans the use of PFAs, long lasting and harmful chemicals that are found in some turf fields and noted that there are natural alternatives.
KC shared that on Diversity Day, May 5, AWARE is going to be collaborating with visiting students from Easthampton High School on a presentation.
IV. FISCAL REPORT
SM moved that WSESD board approve the expenditure of $185,000 for the heat pump project at Oak Grove School, as local matching funds to a Department of Energy grant application. This project was approved by the Finance Committee, and Frank Rucker explained that this grant funding would allow PCB abatement, a substantial upgrade to many of the thermal properties – windows identified in the report, roofing, insulation, a new heat pump, moving the school toward a net zero goal. The district was awarded a grant for this project from the public service department of Vermont. The Department of Energy grants will be awarded in May and he is hopeful that this application will be successful. Next steps will likely require a pre- qualification process.
SM reminded the board that they need to review the capital plan and suggested that it be on the next agenda.
Warrant of March 13, 2023
Warrant No. 1283 in the amount of $1533.31
Warrant No. 1288 in the amount of 5219.90
Warrant No. 1289 in the amount of 5434.00
Warrant No. 1290 in the amount of 149,394.18
March 10, 2023 $1,413,224.39
Warrant of March 20, 2023
Warrant No. 1291 in the amount of $1,000.00
Warrant No. 1292 in the amount of 5,939.99
Warrant No. 1293 in the amount of 9,715.00
Warrant No. 1294 in the amount of 497,063.11
Warrant of March 27, 2023
ACH Purchasing Card Payment $18,394.06
ACH Purchasing Card Payment 23,893.17
Warrant No. 1296 in the amount of 175.00
Warrant No. 1299 in the amount of 93,556.39
Warrant No. 1302 in the amount of 6,644.67
Warrant No. 1303 in the amount of 1,000.00
Warrant No. 1304 in the amount of 1,161,560.01
Warrant No. 1305 in the amount of 185.00
March 24, 2023 $1,557,864.38
Warrant of April 3, 2023
Warrant No. 1308 in the amount of $2,115.18
Warrant No. 1309 in the amount of 12,028.68
Warrant No. 1310 in the amount of 111,383.64
Warrant No. 1311 in the amount of 2,848.62
SM MOVED TO APPROVE THE WARRANTS AS LISTED. THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
RM MOTION TO FIND THAT PREMATURE GENERAL PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE WOULD CLEARLY PLACE THE PUBLIC BODY OR PERSON INVOLVED IN SUBSTANTIAL DISADVANTAGE, REGARDING PENDING OR PROBABLE CIVIL LITIGATION OR A PROSECUTION, TO WHICH THE PUBLIC BODY IS OR MAY BE A PARTY. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
MOTION BY DS FOR THE BOARD TO ENTER INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION UNDER 1 VSA §313(a)(1)(E), REGARDING REGARDING PENDING OR PROBABLE CIVIL LITIGATION OR A PROSECUTION, TO WHICH THE PUBLIC BODY IS OR MAY BE A PARTY; INVITING LIZ ADAMS, MICHELLE LUETJEN GREEN, MARK SPENO, SEAN TOOHEY AND JOHN KLESCH. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
KY noted that the board will not take action after this executive session.
The board entered executive session at 7:22
The board rose from executive session at 8:17.
VI. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
A. Sexual Abuse Investigation Update
KY reported that there was nothing to update at this time and Mark Speno agreed.
B. Policy & Amendment Committee
DS reported that F35 School Animal Policy is being reposted to correct some typographical errors before adoption by the board
DS MOVED THAT THE BOARD ADOPT D17 Policy on Nondiscriminatory Mascots and School Branding
DS explained that the language in this policy comes from a bill passed by the Vermont legislature last summer, which went into effect on Jan 1 as per the Agency on Education. All schools in Vermont are now accountable to this statute, whether or not they adopt this as their own policy, but it is the recommendation of the policy committee that the district formally adopt the policy as well.
THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
A discussion ensued about the implications of this policy for our district. KY noted that there was a complaint filed with the board from the Rutland NAACP shortly before the board election. KY invited them to come before the board once new members had been seated but they declined to do that. RM and DS asked whether the board would consider evaluating whether our mascot is out of compliance with this policy now that we have adopted it. KY agreed to put this on a future agenda, in consultation with Mark Speno.
RMa asked about whether the superintendent would be responsible for compliance with this policy and about a timeline for that. LD expressed that the mascot has been a point of contention for decades and supported an expedited process to replace it. Mark Speno suggested the board and administration educate themselves on the history of the mascot and team name, perhaps inviting a specific teacher who is very steeped in the history of the town to present at our next board meeting. LD pointed out that the town is named after someone who owned slaves and suggested the board consider that and the history of the land we live on and the complications that arise because of that as we make these decisions. SM volunteered that as a BUHS#6 board member who participated in the removal of the Colonel icon he has a lot of information on the history of the name.
Mindy Haskins Rogers expressed strong support for changing the name. She said that many people have expressed how harmful this is and we need to listen to that. She expressed that as an alumna she does not take pride in the name. She referenced a recent petition to change the name and garnered a lot of support. She suggested the district choose a new mascot and name that reflects who the students and the population are and doesn’t further this harm.
VII. BOARD MATTERS / TRAINING
KY shared that she is working on scheduling training and will update board members when there is a date chosen.
IX. NEW BUSINESS
A. Hires / Resignations
Several candidates were presented for hire:
Molly Murray – 1st grade teacher, Green Street School
Kebrina Howard – 1st grade teacher, Green Street School
Kris Johansson – School Counselor, Green Street School
Molly Stoner – Elem Academic Support Teacher, Putney Central School
Abigail Bullen – Social Studies, BUHS (1 year position)
Sarah Kovach – English/Language Arts Teacher, BUHS
Mary Linney – Librarian, BUHS
Jacob Smith – Academic Support-Science, BUHS
Timothy Velsor – Art Teacher, BUHS
Nicole Awwad, Career Foundations/Exploratory Teacher, WRCC
RM MOTION TO APPROVE ALL NEW HIRES INDICATED BY MARK SPENO. MOTION
Two resignations and one leave of absence request were presented for approval:
Jennifer Tourville – Oak Grove
Molly Stoner – Dummerston
Leave of Absence
Leanne Souksanh – Guilford
MOTION BY AB TO APPROVE THESE RESIGNATIONS WITH REGRET AND THIS LEAVE.
MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
B. Leah Rosin-Pritchard Resolution
MOTION BY DS THAT THE BOARD SUPPORT THE FOLLOWING SENTIMENT:
“The Directors of the Windham Southeast School District Board express heartfelt sympathy to
the family of Leah Rosin-Pritchard for their loss. The Board extends condolences to everyone
who works tirelessly on behalf of so many in our district, to everyone in our community who is
devastated by this tragedy.
Thank you to Groundworks Collaborative; we are with you in spirit.
WSESD Board Directors”
RM acknowledged the tragic death of youth Tamico Williams a few days earlier.
MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
DS stated that she will make a similar motion at the WSESU meeting and would like to issue a
statement on behalf of both boards if that were possible. Kerry Amidon said she will be voting in
favor of the motion tomorrow night.
MOTION BY DS THAT THE BOARD SUPPORT THE FOLLOWING SENTIMENT, PENDING
APPROVAL BY THE WSESU BOARD:
The Directors of the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union Board and the Directors of the
Windham Southeast School District Board express heartfelt sympathy to the family of Leah
Rosin-Pritchard for their loss. The Boards extend condolences to everyone who works tirelessly
on behalf of so many in our district, to everyone in our community who is devastated by this
Thank you to Groundworks Collaborative; we are with you in spirit.
WSESU and WSESD Board Directors”
MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
X. CLERK’S REPORT – Approval of Minutes – March 28, 2023
MOTION BY AB TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE MARCH 28, 2023 MEETING RM AMENDMENT TO ADD KATE MARGAITIS TO THE LIST OF ADMINISTRATORS PRESENT. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
DS AMENDMENT TO CORRECT THE VOTE COUNT ON THE ELECTION OF TIM MACIEL TO THE WSESU BOARD FROM 5-5 to 5-4
DS noted that she had asked for a vote count because she noticed a discrepancy with counting votes of board members participating remotely. She also noted that as we had not yet adopted Robert’s Rules for small boards, the chair was not allowed to vote on the election of members to the SU board.
KY agreed and said that her usual practice was not to vote on any motions unless it was needed to break a tie.
THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
MOTION BY TM TO AMEND THE MINUTES TO DELETE A WITHDRAWN MOTION. THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
MOTION BY RMA TO AMEND THE MINUTES TO REFLECT THAT SHE JOINED THE PROGRAMMATIC AND PERFORMANCE EQUITY COMMITTEE. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
THE MOTION TO APPROVE THE MINUTES AS AMENDED CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
DS MOTION TO FIND THAT PREMATURE GENERAL PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE WOULD CLEARLY PLACE THE PUBLIC BODY OR PERSON INVOLVED IN SUBSTANTIAL DISADVANTAGE, REGARDING CONTRACTS. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
MOTION BY LD FOR THE BOARD TO ENTER INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION UNDER 16 VSA §313(1)(a), REGARDING CONTRACTS; INVITING MARK SPENO, FRANK RUCKER, STACEY MOUSSEAU AND NANCY WIESE. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
The board entered executive session at 9:03.
The board suspended the executive session at 10:49.
TM MOTION TO SUSPEND THIS EXECUTIVE SESSION TO RECONVENE AT A FUTURE DATE. SM, AB, RM, RMA, LD and EN VOTED IN FAVOR OF THE MOTION. DS AND KP VOTED TO OPPOSE THE MOTION. MOTION CARRIED.
SM MOVED TO CONTINUE SUSPENDING THE EXECUTIVE SESSION REGARDING GRIEVANCE FROM EARLIER IN THE MEETING TO RECONVENE AT A FUTURE DATE. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
KY will schedule a meeting as soon as possible to continue these two discussions.
AB MOTION TO ADJOURN THE MEETING. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:53.