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.