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, JUNE 27, 2023
REGULAR BOARD MEETING – 6PM
HYBRID MEETING: WRCC CUSICK CONFERENCE ROOM, BRATTLEBORO,
AND REMOTELY VIA ZOOM
SUMMARY: The WSESD Board and members of the Vernon School Board and Administrators attended a retreat together on June 26 to develop goals and priorities for the Continuous Improvement Plan. Administration will begin developing budgets without the support of ESSER funds in September. All schools held graduation ceremonies including BUHS, which was the final one on June 16. There was a discussion of how board members should attend when seating is limited due to holding the event indoors. The board considered new policies regarding the dress code, fire and emergency preparedness, access control, and leadership councils. The report on the sexual abuse investigation has been delayed due to new information received by the investigator. The Board adopted a set of norms to inform their meetings. The Board has not yet received any applicants for the vacant Brattleboro seat but hope to appoint someone at their next meeting on July 25. Administrators will be holding a planning retreat on August 7 and the Board hopes to hold one later that month. Tim Maciel was added to the Social Justice Committee.
WSESD Board Members Present: Chair Kelly Young (KY), Tim Maciel (TM), Ruby McAdoo (RMA), Robin Morgan (RM), Shaun Murphy (SM), Eva Nolan (EN), Kimberley Price (KP), Deborah Stanford (DS)
WSESD Board Members Absent: Anne Beekman
WSESU/SD Staff and Administrators Present: Mark Speno, Paul Smith, Nancy Wiese, Brin Tucker, Keith Lyman, Julianne Eagan, Jodi Nutting
Media Present: Virginia Ray (The Commons), Chris Mays (Brattleboro Reformer)
Others Present: Liz Adams of Putney, Jody Normandeau of Dummerston, Mindy Haskins Rogers of Northampton, MA, Kerry Amidon of the WSESU Board, Martha Carroll, Tamara Evanson, Sherri Keefe, Theia Wepaloki
Please note: attendance may be incomplete.
I. CALL TO ORDER
KY called the meeting to order at 6:02pm.
KY read the hybrid meeting statement.
● Review of Agenda
RM requested adding TM to the Social Justice Committee. KY responded: It will be added to the Board Sub-Committee Updates.
II. STUDENT MATTERS
There were none.
IV. CONSENT AGENDA
● CLERK’S REPORT – Approval of Minutes – June 13, 2023
MOTION BY DS TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF JUNE 13, 2023.
A discussion ensued.
MOTION BY DS TO AMEND THE MINUTES, UNDER “CALL TO ORDER,” IT SHOULD
BE, “POSTPONE LETTER ‘H’ UNDER NEW BUSINESS”; NOT, LETTER ‘I.’ MOTION
VOTE ON THE MOTION TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF JUNE 13, 2023 WITH THE
AMENDMENT THAT HAS BEEN APPROVED: MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Paul Smith announced a person was attempting to gain entrance to the Zoom meeting with a questionable name and a photograph that clearly was not of the attendee. A discussion ensued on the meeting’s protocols for allowing un- or vaguely-identified people to attend the meeting remotely; this is to avoid “Zoom bombing.”
Mindy Haskins Rogers of Northampton noted there may be people who want to attend anonymously, and she hopes the Board takes that into consideration. The participant in question was admitted.
III. ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT
Superintendent Mark Speno gave his report. Highlights included:
● There was a successful retreat with the Board and the administration. Mr. Speno thanked the Board and the administration for their work and their collaborative approach.
● The most recent Board meeting occurred during the final week of school, which saw many graduation ceremonies in the district.
● On Friday, June 16, BUHS had the final ceremony of the school year. It was a great event.
● During the final week of school, the staff paused to reflect on the school year and celebrate the perseverance and achievements of the year.
● During the summer, Central Office staff and administrators will be fine tuning and developing the action plans based on feedback at the 6/26 retreat.
● Notes on the retreat are forthcoming.
A discussion ensued on the upcoming budget season. SM shared concerns he has received from the public about the effect of the end of ESSER funding on property taxes. Mr. Speno said that as budget season begins in September, the focus will be on developing budgets without the support of ESSER funds.
KP asked if the Finance Committee will meet with Finance Director Frank Rucker this summer. Mr. Speno responded, as Mr. Rucker was absent: If Mr. Rucker needs to meet with the Finance Committee, he will contact them. SM noted the Finance Committee is authorized by the Board to do financial work over the summer.
TM suggested adding to the board member orientation binder that was distributed at the retreat a calendar for the upcoming year’s budget season. Mr. Speno responded: Mr. Rucker always distributes this calendar at the beginning of the school year.
RMA asked about protocol for Board members attending the ceremony when it is held indoors where seating is limited, noting that there were concerns expressed by graduate families. A discussion ensued on this subject. Highlights included:
● The series of events at the BUHS graduation, and why some Board members sat in the main hall, and why others sat in the overflow hall.
● Some history and philosophy of Board members attending graduation ceremonies.
● For indoor BUHS graduation ceremonies, each graduate only receives two tickets because space is limited. This leaves a number of seats open, but not enough to accommodate an additional guest for each graduate.
Jody Normandeau asked Mr. Speno for an exact number of attendees who can be in the main hall during BUHS indoor graduation. Mr. Speno said he did not know that number at that moment. He noted the administration planned the ceremony in the best and most equitable way to distribute tickets for it. KY said the Board can discuss and plan for this next year. Kerry Amidon, Chair of the WSESU Board, said all Board members should attend this ceremony.
VI. PUBLIC COMMENT ON NON-AGENDA ITEMS
There was none.
VII. NEW BUSINESS
A. Policy & Amendment Committee – Policies to be presented to the Board for a Second Reading
1. F42 Dress Code
2. E17 Fire & Emergency Preparedness
3. H8 Access Control
Committee Chair DS presented these three policies for a second reading. They were presented at the last Board meeting for their first reading. She said that if there are no questions or comments during the 10-day period, they will be presented at the next Board meeting for adoption.
KP asked if parents receive notification a day in advance for drills. Mr. Speno responded: Yes, for drills such as lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders.
B. Hires / Resignations
MOTION BY RM THAT THE BOARD ACCEPT, WITH REGRET, THE RESIGNATION OF
CATE HAGARTY. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Mr. Speno announced the new hires:
● Christine Pereira, BAMS Assistant Teacher for a one-year contract
● Morgan Derosia, Oak Grove, School Counselor
● Paige Starkweather, Academy School 3rd Grade Teacher for a one-year contract
● Katherine Berelson, Oak Grove, Kindergarten Teacher for a one-year contract
MOTION BY RM TO APPROVE THE NEW HIRES. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
A discussion ensued.
DS asked about the contracts that are listed as “one-year contracts.” Mr. Speno responded: These are all for positions that were only open for one year.
RMA said she would like the recommendations to hire that are sent to the board ahead of the meeting to be consistent in noting at which school the applicant is being hired.
VOTE ON THE MOTION TO APPROVE NEW HIRES: MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
VII (sic). UNFINISHED BUSINESS
C. Sexual Abuse Investigation Update
KY announced Attorney Goddard had received some new information which has delayed the Board receiving her report. Thus, KY has no information to report to the Board.
TM asked if KY had heard from Attorney Kendall Hoechst. KY responded: Yes, and she forwarded this communication to the Board.
Martha Carroll (location unknown) asked when the report will be issued, and if it will be available to the public. KY responded: She does not know the timing or the format of the report. She asked the public to send their recommendations for the report’s format via email.
D. Board Norms
KY noted this agenda item was postponed from the previous Board meeting.
RM shared a document for the board to consider, “WSESD Board Meeting Norms – Draft.” She read the document out loud, and noted that it is based on the Putney Leadership Council’s meeting norms.
MOTION BY TM THAT THE BOARD ADOPT THE NORMS AS STATED.
A discussion ensued on #5. Highlights included:
● Whether to include language, consistent with Robert’s Rules of Order, that prohibits cross-talk and instructs all comments to be directed to the Chair, and why this may or may not be appropriate for this Board.
● How and if Robert’s Rules of Order for small boards applies to this subject.
● That the Board has leeway to make these rules more or less formal.
● Drafting these norms provides instruction for Board members as well as public participants.
A discussion ensued on #1. Highlights included:
● When is it acceptable, or not, to use the names of students and staff, and why.
● These norms can be amended at any time.
● These norms can be identified as a “living document.”
MOTION BY RM TO AMEND THE NORMS TO ADD THESE CHANGES: “#5: AVOID
CROSS-TALK, AND WAIT TO BE RECOGNIZED BY THE CHAIR BEFORE SPEAKING,”
AND TO ADD TO THE END, “THIS IS A LIVING DOCUMENT. THE BOARD CAN
ADJUST THESE NORMS AS NEEDED.” MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
A discussion ensued on where, when, and how the meeting norms should be shared with the public.
The consensus was to include them underneath the minutes on the website.
A discussion ensued on structuring the website to display documents discussed at Board meetings, and what would be most useful for the Board and the public. RM noted this can be discussed at the Communications Council meeting.
WRCC Director Nancy Wiese recommended adding a header, with a link to the meeting norms, to all meeting agendas.
F. Board Vacancy
KY noted that so far there have been no applicants to fill the vacancy left when Lana Dever stepped down. It’s a statutory requirement that the town of the vacancy be consulted in appointing a new member. As the Brattleboro Selectboard is not meeting again until July 25, KY recommended that the Selectboard and WSESD Board hold a brief co-meeting on that day to discuss the appointment of a Board member.
A discussion ensued on the processes for appointment and a joint-meeting.
E. Summer Schedule
A discussion ensued on whether to delay the WSESD meeting scheduled for July 11 until the following regular meeting date on July 25. Some considerations discussed were whether skipping a meeting would result in a backlog of agenda items, making the meeting excessively long. One topic that board members would like on the agenda for that meeting is to have the board make a recommendation to Chris Overtree about what his report about the climate survey should cover.
MOTION BY DS TO POSTPONE THE NEXT BOARD MEETING UNTIL THE 25TH OF
JULY. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
A discussion ensued on drafting a planning calendar for the Board, which will include a schedule of when the board will address issues that need consideration throughout the course of the year. This could be a focus of the Board retreat in August.
Liz Adams of Putney said EES policy council would like EES to do a presentation to the board. RMA noted that Deb Gass presented about EES in November and her expectation is that she will have an opportunity to do so again.
A discussion ensued on the August Board retreat. KY noted that the agenda for the retreat is still being developed and the date and location are yet to be determined.. Mr. Speno requested there be a discussion of priorities for next year’s calendar at the July 25 Board meeting agenda, to inform the August administrative retreat.
G. Policy & Amendment Committee – Policy to be presented to the Board for First Reading
a. H7 – Leadership Councils
DS announced this policy is being presented for its first reading. It is now in the 10-day reading period. She requested that everyone review it and pay close attention to the edits, especially those in the “cross-outs.” She noted this is a significant rewrite of this policy from how it appears on the website, and it adheres to Article 15 of the WSESD Articles of Agreement, which established the Leadership Councils. DS invited feedback, and announced that the second reading of this policy will be on July 25.
VIII. BOARD MATTERS / TRAINING
A. Leadership Council Updates
EES Policy Council: RMA announced that the council met, and they are very interested in engaging with the Board, as Liz Adams noted earlier.
BAMS: KP shared the council’s concerns about what the structure is for the board to answer the questions that they invited LCs to ask in the administrative report.
A discussion ensued on the goals of soliciting the Leadership Councils’ questions, the history of why this form of interaction was developed, why the previous way (having all Councils report at Board meetings) was untenable, and how to move forward. RM asked that board members consider between now and next meeting how to create a structure for communicating with LCs without making board meetings excessively long, and how to invite participation and input from LCs in board decision making processes that pertain to their school. DS noted the policy is being developed to address this.
SM advocated for allowing the Leadership Councils their autonomy. These subjects will be discussed at the upcoming Board retreat and at the July 25 meeting.
B. Board Sub-Committee Updates
RM NOMINATED TM TO JOIN THE SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE. TM ACCEPTED
THE NOMINATION. VOTE TO APPROVE: UNANIMOUS.
RMA announced the Programmatic & Performance Equity Committee is meeting on June 28. Their focus will be on community engagement.
EXECUTIVE SESSION – Under: 1 V.S.A. §313(a)(1)(B) labor relations agreements with
employees, 1 V.S.A. §313(a)(1)(A) contracts, and 1 V.S.A. §313(a)(1)(D) grievances, other than
MOTION BY DS TO FIND THAT PREMATURE GENERAL PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE
WOULD CLEARLY PLACE THE PUBLIC BODY OR PERSON INVOLVED IN
SUBSTANTIAL DISADVANTAGE, WHILE ANTICIPATING THE BOARD WILL MAKE A
SEPARATE MOTION UNDER:
● 1 VSA §313(a)(1)(D), GRIEVANCES, OTHER THAN TAX GRIEVANCES
● 1 VSA §313(a)(1)(A), CONTRACTS
● 1 VSA §313(a)(1)(B), LABOR RELATIONS AGREEMENTS WITH EMPLOYEES.
MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
MOTION BY DS TO ENTER INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION UNDER 1 VSA §313(a)(1)(D),
GRIEVANCES, OTHER THAN TAX GRIEVANCES; 1 VSA §313(a)(1)(A), CONTRACTS;
AND 1 VSA §313(a)(1)(B), LABOR RELATIONS AGREEMENTS WITH EMPLOYEES.
NO ACTION IS EXPECTED. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
The Board entered into Executive Session at 8:01pm.
The Board rose from Executive Session at 8:31pm
DS MOTION TO ADJOURN. ALL VOTED IN FAVOR.
Meeting was adjourned at 8:32.
● “WSESD Board Meeting Norms – Draft.”
Submitted by Robin Morgan, Board Clerk, from notes 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.