Note: These minutes should be considered preliminary until they are approved at the next Policy and Amendments Committee meeting
Windham Southeast School District (WSESD) Policy and Amendment Committee
Tuesday, June 20, 2023
Regular meeting 2:30 pm
Hybrid meeting: WSESU Central Office, 53 Green St., Brattleboro, VT and
Remotely via Zoom
Policy and Amendment Committee members present: Deborah Stanford (DS, Chair), Tim Maciel (TM), Anne Beekman (AB), Eva Nolan (EN, via Zoom)
WSESD/U Staff and Administrators present: Superintendent Mark Speno (MS) (Happy birthday), Mo Hart (MH)
Guests attending: Liz Adams (LA, via Zoom)
Call to Order
Chair DS convened the meeting at 2:32 pm and read hybrid statement.
I. Approval of Minutes and confirmation of next meeting date
The minutes of 06/05/23 meeting approved by assent.
A discussion took place on whether the Policy and Amendments Committee will meet during the summer. It was agreed that there will be one meeting in July, specifically focused on planning a calendar and setting priorities for which policies to review in the coming school year.
This meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 11, 2023, at 2:30 pm at the WSESU Central Office.
The regular pattern of meeting every other week will resume in August, with a plan to meet:
Tuesday, August 22, 2023
Tuesday, Sept 5, 2023
Tuesday, Sept 19, 2023
II. Edits and Updates
DS: Policies F42 (dress code), E17 (fire and emergency preparedness drills), and H8 (access control) are at a first reading. At the Board meeting coming up on June 27, those three will go for a second reading, and H7 (leadership council) may go for a first reading.
Policy discussion of H7 Leadership Councils
The discussion of H7 began with thoughts on the purpose of the LC.
TM: LC is for community input into school board deliberation, and it seems to be evolving into an enhanced PTO. We need to stress that it is to further communication between board and schools.
MS: LC invested in impact on specific schools, rather than the greater system.
DS: Questions asked of LC go in the monthly report. Would love to see all the LC questions in one report, showing the range of what every LC is concerned about.
LA: mentioned the athletic director discussion that took place at the LC level. The LC took that off the board. The LC is a step in between the school and the board. Can we solve a concern at the LC level? If not, take it to the board.
TM: said that reviewing student needs and progress — number 3, bullet 4 — is one of most important points to emphasize. This is a learning community. The LC should be aware of how the students in their schools are doing academically and should hold the board accountable that student learning needs are being met.
Editing began. DS read the full draft of the most recent version of H7 aloud and further
edits were agreed upon.
In the Membership paragraph:
MS expressed concern that the part about community members comprising at least 50% of LC was not realistic.
The goal of this sentence is to help ensure that LC is not top-heavy with WSESD employees (staff and teachers).
After a discussion, wording was changed to: Ideally community members will comprise 50% representation and not be employees of WSESD.
MS questioned the deletion of “Community members shall submit a letter of interest outlining their qualifications and interest.”
After a discussion, wording was changed to: Community members applying to the LC can be nominated by other community members or can submit a letter of interest.
Wording was changed to clarify length and timing of the LC term.
DS raised a procedural question about what the document will look like when it is brought for a first reading and when it is warned. There are many colors in the H7 document as it is now, from the different revisions. This policy has gotten so convoluted, it may need to be presented as a clean copy, with a way to access previous versions.
Returning to the read through of the policy:
A discussion ensued about how best to incorporate the suggestions from Ruby (everything in brackets on page 1-2, an alternate view of “Membership”) and eliminate redundancy.
It was agreed to format the initial membership paragraph into bullet points, and add in the new points from Ruby in her last two bullets—Code of Ethics, and Business of the Council.
When the line editing work was completed, the committee unanimously agreed to send H7 Leadership Councils for a first reading at the Board meeting on June 27.
4 minute break, reconvene at 3:51 pm
A further consideration for LC (and other meetings):
MS: At the last board meeting, it was brought up that for a fully remote meeting with no physical location, sign language interpretation should be provided. Does this need to be included in the language of the policy, or is it procedure?
DS: What about a hybrid meeting such as this one? Is sign interpretation needed for any meeting that is recorded and posted?
AB: The problem with closed captioning is that it is not in real time, and does not allow deaf or hard of hearing to participate. To be ADA compliant, it would need to be sign interpreted.
DS will write to ask for clarification. If we are not compliant, this is far bigger than LC. Will leave it out of the policy.
III. Proposed policies from the community
DS: Proposed policies from the community will be put this on hold until the July meeting.
IV. Continued Review
Update on F42 (dress code)
DS: This policy is at its first reading, nothing further to do at the moment. The only feedback has been a request asking that references to “ears” be removed.
MH: In the current version, all references to ears have been struck.
DS: F42 will be coming up for a second reading at June 27 board meeting. After the meeting, please warn for adoption the three policies: F42, E17, and H8.
Policy discussion on D1 — Personnel Recruitment
A discussion of Policy D1 ensued. Highlights include:
It was agreed that it would be good to include the new HR director in further discussion of this policy.
Redundancy noted, page 2, number 2, third paragraph—the reference to “increasingly diverse community” is repeated two paragraphs down. Agreed to cut the first one.
TM’s motion, the red paragraph in the new version, should be incorporated into the numbered list (under the “Recruitment” heading). It should become number 4 and subsequent two paragraphs should be renumbered as 5 and 6.
On the second page, under number 2, there is a reference to a link being provided to the WSESD Ongoing Social Justice and Anti-Racist Commitment.
TM: asked MS if this was current practice.
MS: it doesn’t always happen, and there’s a need for a change in practice.
Agreed that it’s a situation where it’s not the policy that needs to change, but the
Significant discussion circled around number 3: “All personnel will be recruited by the
District’s administrative staff under the immediate direction of the Superintendent.”
DS expressed a concern that this could be read as a limitation, and that another sentence was needed.
After a discussion, there was agreement to add the sentence: “Administrative staff will demonstrate effort to collaborate with community to increase workforce diversity.”
It was reiterated that it would be good to get Michael, the new HR director, in on this conversation. His first day is July 10.
D1 will be placed on hold until the meeting on August 22.
Considerations on G8 – Continuous Improvement
TM: expressed a concern that G8 has been on hold for a long time, and wondered if it could be brought to the retreat coming up on the 26th.
After a review of the retreat schedule, it was agreed that there would not be enough time to look at the policy at the retreat and the conversation would be too involved.
Meeting adjourned: 4:33 p.m.
Notes taken by Anna Monders (recorder)
Submitted by Tim Maciel (vice chair)