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!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 21st Meeting Recap

The Board of the Essex Westford Educational Community Unified Union School District met on March 21st in the Essex High School library.  Draft minutes are available here. Highlights of the meeting include:


-The calendars for the 2017-2018 academic year are now available! After a discussion of the philosophy that guided the administration as they aligned all the calendars, the board voted its approval for two calendars. CTE has a few minor differences from the unified calendar that will govern all the other district schools. The calendars are now available on the CCSU website.


-Board Chair Martha Heath shared slides with the Board that will be part of the upcoming budget presentation. Community members are encouraged to attend that informational meeting, which will occur at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, April 4th in the Essex High School auditorium.


-The Board voted to accept the bids received from CCR Transportation (for Westford) and Student Transportation of America (for Essex Junction) to expand district bus transportation. The details of routing will be arranged after input is gathered from the community via an engagement session in April.

The next board meeting will occur on Tuesday, April 4th, beginning with the budget informational session in the Essex High School auditorium.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

February 21st Meeting

The Essex Westford unified school board met on February 21st in the Essex High School library.  Draft minutes may be read here. Highlights of the meeting include:


-The School Board of the Essex Westford Educational Community Unified Union School District (EWSD) approved the first consolidated budget for the new unified district. The FY18 budget of $75,287,014 represents a 2.41% increase from the combined and unduplicated FY17 budgets of the districts, and can be expressed as an expenditure of $15,961.19 per equalized pupil. Tax rates in Essex Junction, Essex Town, and Westford are all projected to decrease as a result of the tax incentives built into Act 46.


-The Board also approved the warning for the Annual Meeting. In addition to the budget question, voters will decide on articles creating a capital reserve for the new district and appropriating $1.209 million to it. The capital reserve will be used to provide funding for  major projects such as replacing roofs.


-First readings occurred for policies C5: Weapons and Firearms, C9: Nutrition and Wellness, and F1: Travel Reimbursement.

The next regular board meeting will occur on Tuesday, March 7th.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

February 7th Meeting Recap

The Essex Westford Educational Community school board held a regular meeting on February 7th in the Essex High School library.  Draft minutes may be read here. Highlights of the meeting include:

-Michael Smith, chair of the Prudential Committee (Essex Junction K-8 schools’ legacy school board, which hands over school operations to the new unified district at the end of June this year), reported on their discussions with the Village Trustees about the future of the Park Street School building. Not actually serving as a school for the district, this historic building is mostly used to house EJRP preschool programs, the ACE alternative high school program, and a conference room. Its maintenance costs exceed its usefulness to the district, so the Prudential Committee recommends transferring the property to the Village Trustees. This decision will come before Village voters at the Annual Meeting for a voice vote.

-Work on the budget continues. Marilyn Frederick presented on a number of budget topics including Act 66 preschool, technology, and capital reserves. The full presentation can be accessed on the board website.

-Policies D2: Grade Advancement, Retention, Promotion, and Acceleration of Students, and D5: Animal Dissection, were approved on second reading.

The next regular board meeting will occur on Tuesday, February 21st.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January 17th Meeting Recap

January is a busy month for your Essex Westford unified board! Amid a series of budget meetings, the board held a regular meeting on January 17th in the Essex High School library.  Draft minutes may be read here. Highlights of the meeting include:


-Erin Maguire and Dylan McNamara presented on the Support Services budget. EWSD special educators, counselors, nurses, social workers and preschool teachers serve approximately 587 students. A great piece of news coming out of unification is that registration for Act 166 preschool is being streamlined within the district. This will save money and make the system easier for parents to navigate. The district contact for preschool registration will be Johanna Simmons, and information about registration for Fall 2017 will be available very soon!


-The board was informed that the date set for EWSD’s annual meeting budget hearing conflicts with Passover this year. Passover and Easter dates are determined based on a lunar calendar, and therefore have a certain chance of conflicting with any standing meeting set in March and April. In consideration of constituents who celebrate Passover, the board voted to move the 2017 budget hearing to April 4th.


-The board was sorry to receive the resignation of district CFO Katherine “Deac” Decarreau for personal reasons. The board accepted her resignation with gratitude for the intense work ethic and insightful approach she brought to reconciling the ETSD and CCSU budgets over the last several months. Budget planning has been a team effort involving central administration and building level leaders, current and former district financial staff, and outside consultants, and this team will be more than sufficient to putting the finishing touches on the budget. In consideration of the ongoing work of the district, the administration will begin the process to hire a new CFO in the coming weeks.


-The board directed the administration to put out an RFP (request for proposals) for transportation options for the new district. The working proposal for Essex Junction, based on research into the best practices of districts nationwide, is that older students who live a mile or more from school, and younger students who live a half mile or more from school, would be offered transportation. Transportation companies responding to the RFP will provide input on the cost impacts of various approaches to busing, which can then inform the community, board and administration as we work together to determine what transportation should look like in the new district.


The next regular board meeting will occur on Tuesday, February 7th. There will not be a budget meeting on January 24th, but the board will meet on budget matters on Tuesday, January 31st at 6:30 p.m.