Monday, July 10, 2017

June 20th 2017 - Meeting Recap

The Board of the Essex Westford Educational Community Unified Union School District met on June 20th in the Essex High School library.  Draft minutes are available HERE. Highlights of the meeting include:

- With the final meeting before the unification of our districts becomes official we gave our extreme thanks to both outgoing superintendents Mark and Judy. Each of them has conducted themselves an an exemplary manner as they worked to close out the end of their respective districts to see the beginning of a new one. The number of hours that each has put in, in addition to their regular work is something the entire board whole-hardheartedly commends and will be forever grateful for.

- The board was notified of the transition plans for staff at our two locations; Beth, along with the educational services departments will be moving operations to 58 Founders in Essex town. Our new superintendent will also share space with Brian Donahue, our COO, at 51 Park Street in the village along with Finance and HR functions. Everyone recognizes that as we move forward the district will be looking at a way to consolidate all administrative functionality in one physical location.

- The board approved the second reading of Policy D4: Title 1 Comparability and the first reading of E1: Title 1, Part A, Parent Involvement. With these two, all mandated state and federal policies are almost complete approved.

- The board recognizes the desire for continually transportation updates for our communities. Our busing companies are still seeking additional drivers to cover the expanded routes for the village schools. If you or someone you know might be interested in an exciting and rewarding part time position, please contact the Stacy Emerson at Mountain Transit directly at 802-893-1334. The area of Summit/Fleming schools is a work in progress and will be an interim solution with more permanent construction to occur at a later date.

- One final added note is that the new website for the unified district is live HERE I encourage everyone who reads this to give it a look along with following them on facebook and twitter.

Monday, June 19, 2017

June 6th, 2017 - Meeting Recap

The Board of the Essex Westford Educational Community Unified Union School District met on June 6th in the Essex High School library. Draft minutes are available here. Highlights of the meeting include:

- The Board's primary presentation at this meeting was the Department of Health transportation report which highlighted ideas that have been addressed in previous meetings but also brought some new ideas to the fore. This report had some very informative results surrounding the expansion of student transport, and specifically in regards to health and safety as we move forward. While many of these ideas are certainly excellent ones, as a Board we must also keep in mind the added costs for some of the more appealing recommendations such as monitors on all buses and transport for after school programs and activities are simply not realistic in our current budget. A new EWSD transportation update in concise form can be found HERE.

- Beth Cobb has been actively involved in both ETSD and CCSU meetings in preparation for her official start date both here in the new school district and also representing us along with current superintendents regionally. In addition to Beth's involvement, our new COO Brian Donohue has also begun officially as of June 5th which will aid tremendously in ensuring a smooth transition when we are officially merged.

- The Board approved our second readings of C20: Student Conduct and Discipline and C21: Search and Seizure as well as our first reading of D4: Title I Comparability. 

 - Lastly, the Board would like to extend its deepest appreciation to all of our dedicated administrative staff. This transition means extra work and long hours for teams in both the CCSU and ETSD central offices and we are incredibly thankful for that additional effort.  

Thursday, May 25, 2017

May 16th, 2017 - Meeting Recap

The Board of the Essex Westford Educational Community Unified Union School District met on May 16th in the Essex High School library. Draft Minutes are available here. Highlights of the meeting include:

-The Board was given a presentation concerning the current structure of the EWSD Early Education Program including the Act 166 (Universal Pre-Kindergarten) compliance. It was very pleasing to learn that all of those opportunities offered by EWSD are either 4 or 5 STAR accredited. As part of the same presentation we were able to meet with the director of one of our partner programs, Little One's University. The resources that EWSD can provide has helped increase their STAR accreditation, which in turn allows them greater subsidies and more students that can then afford the tuition.

- The Boards discussed its progress with expanding student transportation for the new district. We are keenly aware that its important to keep all stakeholders, especially parents, in the loop as the plans begin to take shape over the coming months. The Voice for Education group is going to be asked to assist in facilitating additional community conversations to get feedback on draft plans and other aspects of the new transportation system. Since the community forum in April, the team working on the plan has conducted site visits to the Essex Junction schools to evaluate bus lanes and other considerations. The Summit and Fleming schools have unique physical aspects that will require greater study going forward. The Board also anticipates hearing the final recommendations from the Vermont Department of Health at its June 6th meeting for any public interested in attending. The biggest questions about this topic, busing routes and schedule, will ultimately be decided by our new superintendent but the board understands the need for continued communication and consultation with the community.

- The Board approved the first reading of policies regarding 'Student Conduct and Discipline' as well as 'Search and Seizure'. We also approved the second reading of our 'Proficiency Based Learning and Graduation Requirements'. With this, most of the work on required policies has now been completed with only two more outstanding required policies that should be addressed in June.

- The Board discussed two offers from the local boards of Fletcher Elementary School and BFA Fairfax respectively concerning interest in joining together. There are some ways in which these options, especially with Fletcher, could make sense but that set against the larger backdrop of our own unification, a new superintendent and a new COO, now is not the right time for us to explore such a move.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

May 2nd, 2017 - Meeting Recap

The Board of the Essex Westford Educational Community Unified Union School District met on April 4th in the Essex High School library.  Draft minutes are available here. Highlights of the meeting include:

- The Board welcomed Rob Evans, Essex Police Chief Brad LaRose, Bob Travers, and Rob Reardon as part of a review of the April 12th lockdown event in Essex Junction. We strongly recommend reviewing the meeting minutes for a timeline of the event itself. The Board was able to ask questions about the incident and coordinated response efforts. We are very fortunate to have detailed plans and contingencies in place for circumstances like these. Everyone involved in the response is to be commended for keeping the safety of our staff and students as the primary goal throughout the day. While it is difficult to ask for a better outcome, even this event was able to become a learning experience for potential future lockdown events.

- The Board was informed and was pleased to learn that Brian Donahue has been hired as the new COO for the EWSD. Brian is a longtime Essex resident and a former CFO of the Chittenden Central Supervisory Union. Brian has served on previous local school boards and is a parent of four children that have gone through the Essex school systems. By welcoming Brian, we are bringing on board someone familiar with the district's structure and needs during this time of unification.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 18th, 2017 - Meeting Recap

 The Board of the Essex Westford Educational Community Unified Union School District met on April 4th in the Essex High School library.  Draft minutes are available here. Highlights of the meeting include:

-The Board re-elected Martha Heath to serve as Chair, Kimberly Gleason to serve as Vice Chair and Marla Durham to serve as Clerk for the upcoming year.

-A presentation was held by existing CCSU and ETSD staff detailing the shift towards proficiency based learning both in the state of Vermont and how it shall be addressed in our new district going forward. After a question and answer session, the board approved the first reading of a policy addressing the shift towards PBL and its impact on graduation requirements.

-The Board reviewed the results of the annual meeting and subsequent vote that occurred on April 11th, most notably marking the first passing of a unified budget under Act 46 in the entire state. This is a great milestone and the result of dedicated work by both the Board and existing staff, completed under extraordinary circumstances. The voting turnout is of some concern and an area to be addressed going forward. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

April 4th Meeting Recap

The Board of the Essex Westford Educational Community Unified Union School District met on April 4th in the Essex High School library.  Draft minutes are available here. Highlights of the meeting include:

-The centerpiece of the meeting was a presentation by Board Chair Martha Heath on the budget. A number of community members were present and asked questions about the information presented, which will be discussed again at the April 10th Annual Meeting and voted on by Australian ballot on April 11th.

-Brendan Kinney updated the Board on the plans for the transportation engagement scheduled for April 19th at Essex High School, to involve all three communities, district and bus company employees.

-The Board approved a number of new hires throughout the district, replacing retiring teachers or filling new positions.

The next regular board meeting will occur on Tuesday, April 18th in the Essex High School library.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Budget Informational Meeting Tonight, April 4th!

Please remember to come out tonight to hear a presentation on the budget! The presentation may be viewed here if you are unable to attend or want to prepare questions in advance. Please note that the location has changed. We will be meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the Essex High School library (not the auditorium as originally advertised). Hope to see you!