Note: These proposed minutes should be considered preliminary until they are approved by the
WINDHAM SOUTHEAST SCHOOL DISTRICT (WSESD) BOARD
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2023
REGULAR BOARD MEETING – 6PM
HYBRID MEETING: GUILFORD CENTRAL SCHOOL, 374 SCHOOL ROAD, GUILFORD
AND REMOTELY VIA ZOOM
WSESD Board Members Present: Chair Kelly Young (KY), Anne Beekman (AB), Tim Maciel (TM),
Ruby McAdoo (RMC), Robin Morgan (RMO), Shaun Murphy (SM), Eva Nolan (EN), Kimberly Price
(KP), Matt Schibley (MS), Deborah Stanford (DS), Jayden Gonzalez Non-Voting Student
Representative, Alora Lawyer Non-Voting Student Representative
WSESU/SD Staff and Administrators Present: Mark Speno, Frank Rucker, Julianne Eagan, Hannah
Parker, Brin Tucker, Celena Romo, Mary Kaufmann, Jon Sessions, Laureen Reavey, Susan Grabowski,
Kelly Dias, Deb Schiller, Debra Gass, Chris Nesbitt
Media Present: BCTV, Chris Mays (Brattleboro Reformer),
Others Present: Jody Normandeau of Dummerston, Mindy Haskins Rogers of Northampton,
Massachusetts, Carly Chickering of Brattleboro, Kerry Amidon, Sherri Keefe, Maggie Foley
Please note: attendance may be incomplete.
I. CALL TO ORDER
KY called the meeting to order at 6:00pm.
KY read the hybrid meeting statement.
● Review of Agenda
There were no amendments made to the agenda.
II. STUDENT MATTERS
There were none.
III. ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT
Superintendent Mark Speno gave his report.
● Update on MLSS Progress
Superintendent Mark Speno, Curriculum Coordinator Brin Tucker, BUHS teacher Celena Romo, Oak Grove Principal Mary Kaufmann, Putney Central School Principal Jon Sessions, and Academy School teacher Laureen Reavey presented an update on the implementation of Multi-Layered Systems of Support (MLSS)
The focus of the presentation was on the Importance of systems development and highly functioning Educational Support Teams (ESTs) at each school. For the past couple of years the district has been working on identifying best practices. This year they have transitioned into implementation of best practices – building MLSS systems. Each school is at a different place on this path.
Some of the new systems being implemented include monthly meetings for representatives from all schools to discuss MLSS and EST. These meetings provide staff with the opportunity to make connections, share best practices and experiences and to continue to develop their vision. Other new systems are focused on data review: benchmark meetings have been established for fall, winter and spring.
Ms. Tucker shared and reviewed a slideshow document, “MLSS Review: Multi-Layered Systems of Support in WSESU,” along with Ms. Romo, Mr. Sessions, and Ms. Reavey.
● Explanation of how layers of support can be added or removed to match student needs
● How MLSS is informed by Act 173, with specific examples from the District’s schools
● How ESTs, comprehensive assessments, a coordinated curriculum across all K-8 schools, and needs-based professional development are implemented to support best practices.
● Educational Support Teams are available to support all students, not just those who have been identified as needing Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs).
● The District invested in MLSS by hiring more academic support teachers.
● How students are identified as needing more academic support
● Student progress is measured via benchmark data and real-time data
● How co-teaching and collaboration between teachers can support MLSS
● MLSS is a dynamic and flexible system where teachers and administrators constantly interact, assess, learn, and try new approaches
● How MLSS can support our goals of inclusion for students needing additional academic support.
● How MLSS committees are utilized to strengthen the vision and implementation of this work.
● MLSS communication components
● Details on the Act 173 Steering Committee
● Results of the “Spring 2023 – MLSS/Act 173 Implementation Rubric Survey – All WSESU Schools”
● MLSS systems under development: student supports, flexible groupings and coaching, and data-based decision making
● Examples of continuing professional development for MLSS
● How real-time data is used to guide teaching
● Some examples of positive effects of MLSS systems
● Some examples of what about MLSS supported staff and student growth and achievement
● Some examples of benchmark data and how it is used and collected
● A case-study on Putney Central School’s structured recess support program. This is a facilitated outdoor activity that was developed to address the needs of students who have behavior difficulties during unstructured play but is available to and enjoyed by all students. It is an example of a system-wide approach to supportive positive student behavior. The presentation included how this need was identified, how the program is structured, its goals, and data on its effectiveness.
Mr. Speno asked the Board to share their feedback and requests for what they would like to see at future MLSS presentations.
KY noted this meeting has a full agenda, so perhaps the Board can revisit this later.
RMO asked for more time to reflect on the questions posed by the superintendent and suggested the board communicate their responses to the administration at a later time.
KY called for a break at 7:17pm.
KY called the meeting back into order at 7:26pm.
● Update on Leadership Council (LC) Orientation
Mr. Speno reported he and Executive Secretary Mo Hart recently held an orientation for LC Chairs at the Central Office. Another orientation will be held soon for those who couldn’t make it to the first one.
Mr. Speno gave an overview of the orientation, which included the documents participants received, components of the event, best practices for LC meetings, LC norms, how the LCs can interact with the Board, information on Robert’s Rules of Order for small boards, and how to navigate the website. There was some discussion at the orientation about strengthening the pathway of communication between the LCs and the Board. Mr. Speno suggested that the Communications Council could take up the matter. Reports from LCs communicated by Board representatives at Board meetings are an impactful way of bringing LC concerns to an actionable stage by the Board.
● Update on Staff Stipends for LCs
Mr. Speno reported that one option would be to utilize the pay guidelines that schools use to pay certified staff for working outside their contract hours in after-school programs, which is an hourly rate of about $35/hour. A discussion ensued. Stipends would be available to any staff member who wishes to participate in the LC meetings. This commitment would be for the whole school year.
IV. FISCAL REPORT
● Selection of prequalified Contractors eligible to bid on the Oak Grove Heat pump & HVAC controls project
Business Administrator Frank Rucker announced the fifth firm to seek pre-qualification has dropped out.
● FY25 Proposed Budget
Mr. Rucker updated the Board on the proposed budget. The Finance Committee and Independent Budget Review Committee have reviewed and discussed the elementary and secondary school budgets. The proposed budget appears on the website, and preliminary figures indicate a total budget, so far, for $64 million, which is less than a 2% increase over the current year’s budget. Next they will review the Capital Plan budget and a first draft of the full budget will be presented to the Board on December 20.
V. CONSENT AGENDA
● Clerk’s Report – Approval of Minutes – November 14, 2023
MOTION BY DS TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF NOVEMBER 14, 2023. MOTION
VI. PUBLIC COMMENT ON NON-AGENDA ITEMS
Jody Normandeau of Dummerston would like tutorials for the website, an explanation of commonly- used acronyms, and a synopsis of Act 173.
Carly Chickering expressed concerns about school climate. She questioned whether school climate data other than the annual Panorama survey is being analyzed or used to adjust practices and implement interventions. Mr. Speno responded that this meeting’s presentation on MLSS included examples of how data is used to inform interventions and practices. He noted other ways the schools are collecting climate data beyond the student Panorama survey: a family climate survey and a teacher perception survey. Mr. Smith added the Youth Risk Behavior Survey as another data source. All those are used to help identify goals in our CIP and they are evaluated throughout a school year to assess how we are working toward our goals.
KY read a statement about possible Board responses to public comments.
VII. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
A. Sexual Abuse Investigation
KY reported she has nothing to share. She said there has been some communication between the Board’s attorney, and Attorney Amy Goddard.
RMC asked KY if she has strongly expressed the Board’s desire to receive a more substantial response.
KY responded: yes, and Ms. Goddard is working on a response.
Mindy Haskins Rogers of Northampton asked if any Board members had received any information, and if they will receive information the public will not receive.
KY responded to the first question: the Board is waiting to receive information from Ms. Goddard to share with the public. KY said she would not comment on Ms. Haskins Rogers’s second comment.
Ms. Haskins Rogers asked if Board members, in their role as mandated reporters, have reported any suspected or confirmed instances of child abuse to the Department of Children and Families?
KY responded: as per the Board’s attorney’s counsel, the Board is aware of their responsibility and they are in compliance.
B. Continuation of Food Accessibility at District Schools
KY noted this topic continues from the discussion at the last Board meeting.
As reported by the BUHS Leadership Council, BAMS and BUHS students may be receiving inadequate nutrition due both to portion limits and the kitchen running out of food before all students have been served. Teachers are paying for snacks with their own money to help feed students. This is a concern that requires an immediate response. Possible short-term solutions were discussed – a food shelf, share cooler where students can put unwanted items from their lunch for someone else to take. WSESU Food Program Coordinator Susan Grabowski shared her perspective, including methods for food-sharing currently used in schools. She said she has been frustrated with the food service company WSESU is using, and there is a meeting the next day with their leadership to express these concerns and demand better service in-line with the contract the WSESU has with the company.
Mr. Rucker added this negative change is a surprise, because the District has a long and otherwise good experience with the food-service company. But, they have failed, and in the meeting, the administration will tell them so, and give them the opportunity to remedy this. There will be repercussions. The solution to the problem of inadequate meals is not to create a work-around; it is for the food-service company to meet the administration’s expectations. Mr. Rucker shared a document, “Food Service FSMC RFP 3.24.23,” which is a 119-page set of guidelines from the USDA on quantity, frequency, and nutritional value of meals. It is a contract schools must follow in order to receive USDA funding; the WSESU receives $2 million from them. Certain nutritional guidelines have limits which impacts how much protein-rich food they are able to provide students.
A long-term solution, if the service from the contracted company does not improve, could be to develop a district-wide food service program like the one already that exists at Putney Central. This would require considerable investment but would allow us more control over staffing and other issues that impact student access to food.
Academy School Principal Kelly Dias shared that student hunger is a tremendous problem in our district and not only when they are at school. Over 400 families attended the last Veggie Van Go, which is a lot in a community this size. Academy sends home backpacks full of food to help sustain students over the weekends. She shared some creative solutions that are being considered, including a plan to freeze leftover cafeteria meals to send home with instructions for reheating.
Board members acknowledged that something must be done immediately to remedy the two issues: inadequate lunches, and teachers spending their own money on snacks for hungry students. Mr. Rucker and Mr. Speno assured the Board this issue will be resolved within one or two days. Mr. Speno will provide an update to the Board after the meeting with the food-service company.
C. Policy & Amendment presents the following for Readoption:
DS announced that each of the following policies have gone through three readings.
• C9 – Notice of Non-Discrimination (formerly Board Commitment to Non- Discrimination)
MOTION BY DS THAT THE WSESD APPROVE READOPTION C9: NOTICE OF NON-
DISCRIMINATION. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
• D11 – Public Complaints about Personnel
MOTION BY DS THAT THE WSESD APPROVE READOPTION D11: PUBLIC
COMPLAINTS ABOUT PERSONNEL. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
• F2 – Bus Discipline
MOTION BY DS THAT THE WSESD APPROVE READOPTION F2: BUS DISCIPLINE.
MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
D. Policy & Amendment presents the following for 2nd Reading
● D1 – Personnel Recruitment, Selection, Appointment, and Background Checks
DS announced this is this policy’s second reading. She invited everyone, including community members, to read it and offer suggestions or comments to anyone on the Board or the administration. If there are no comments, this policy will be presented at the next Board meeting for readoption.
VIII. NEW BUSINESS
A. Policy & Amendment Committee presents the following for a 1st reading:
● F32 – Student Distribution of Literature
DS announced this is this policy’s first reading. She invited everyone, including community members, to read it and offer suggestions or comments to anyone on the Board or the administration.
IX. BOARD MATTERS / TRAINING
A. Leadership Council Updates
Putney Central School – RMC said this LC recently met and considered the questions. They want to convene an all-LC summit, not just for Chairs, for mutual-support. RMC asked how the Board can make this happen.
Green Street School – MS said this LC recently met and it was a great meeting. They had a question for the Board: What is the BUHS graduation rate?
Mr. Speno responded: he will bring this information to the next Board meeting.
RMO asked to hear updates from the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC) at future meetings.
B. Board Sub-Committees:
SM announced the Finance Committee’s budget season meeting calendar for December: every Tuesday until the draft budget is presented at the December 19 Board meeting. There was also some discussion of whether the meeting scheduled for the 19th could be moved to December 20th to follow the WSESU meeting on that date. Administrators will discuss and follow up with the board chair.
C. Board Training Resources – Potential Action needed:
KY announced there is now a Google Drive document listing Board training resources, and everyone can contribute to it.
MOTION BY TM TO APPROVE UP TO $100 PER TERM REIMBURSEMENT TO SCHOOL
BOARD MEMBERS FOR SUBSCRIPTIONS TO EITHER “AMERICAN SCHOOL BOARD
JOURNAL,” “EDUCATION WEEK,” OR, “EDUCATION LEADERSHIP.”
RMO asked if the Board had, in fact, voted for this at the last meeting. A discussion ensued.
TM WITHDREW HIS MOTION.
TM announced he would like to invite the Vermont Students Against Racism group to give a one-hour presentation at the January 9 Board meeting.
MOTION BY AB TO ADJOURN. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
The Board adjourned at 9:13pm.
● A slideshow, “MLSS Review: Multi-Layered Systems of Support in WSESU.”
● “Food Service FSMC RFP 3.24.23.”
Submitted by WSESD Board Clerk Robin Morgan 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.