Superintendent's BlogBridging the Community & Schools one post at a time.
April 2019 WNESU Reports
Glossary of Education Abbreviations
New Saxon River Principal Hired
The Windham Northeast Supervisory Union Community would like to Welcome Laura Hazard as the next Principal of the Saxtons River Elementary School. Laura has spent the last 12 years as the Principal for the Jamaica Elementary School. The Rockingham School Board approved her appointment on 3/18/19. I would also like to thank everyone from the community who took the time to come to the school and participate in the interview process.
SCHOOL BOARD INFORMATION PACKETS 2019
March 2019 Budget Vote Results
ACT 46 Merger Tim-line for Athens, Grafton, and Westminster
Just an FYI for ALL voters in the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union.
On March 1, 2019, my office got changes from the JFO that impacted this years Tax yield. Why is it different this year? To get information to create budgets the WNESU Business offices used the Dec 1, 2018 letter that the State Tax commissioner sends out every year. This information is what we use to create budgets and put in the Annual Report. This is how it is done every year. This year On March 1, 2019, the state sent out a republished tax yield, not the AOE. This yield is why there is a difference in your taxes, and that is not reflected in the Annual Reports. We build a budget based on this data that has always been provided to us in December. The School Boards, the administration and the SU office, are not responsible for the last minute changes to the wrong taxes numbers in the Town Reports. Each year we create budgets with the information that is given to us. Receiving changes from the state 3 days before towns are to vote on budgets does not leave any of us with any type of resolution. All I can do as Superintendent is to share this information and to make sure that the local school boards, administration and SU office are NOT the one that is looked upon negatively for creating inaccuracies in what is printed and what was changed by the state.
March Superintendents & Central Office Reports
February Superintendent & Central Office Report
2019 Rockingham Town School Annual Report
Bellows Falls Union High School Annual Report
All school in WNESU will have an early release for Tuesday, February 12, 2019. Also, all after-school activities have also been canceled.
Hold Put on Act 46 Mergers
Making Sense of the VT. Education Funding System
As of January 8, 2019
Merger Tips & Annotated Time-line
Vermont’s school district consolidation law, Act 46, may have been the state’s most controversial school reform in decades.
But an internal government document suggests the state’s top education official believes it hasn’t gone nearly far enough.
In a draft policy memo dated Jan. 1, administration officials, led by Education Secretary Dan French, outline a radical idea for Vermont’s schools. In it, they suggest consolidating all school districts into one, abolishing the State Board of Education, and establishing four regional administrative entities, each with its own school board and superintendent, to oversee schools in the area.
Under this system, according to the document, titled “Designing our Future: A Blueprint for Transforming Vermont’s Education System,” students would have universal public and private school choice. Budgets would be developed by regional superintendents and submitted to the secretary of education, who would create an overall education budget. That budget would then go before the General Assembly, which would have the final say over how much money schools receive. Regional school boards, with the approval of the secretary, would decide whether to close schools.
According to the memo, an “education policy design team” was formed in fall 2018 to design a “policy blueprint” for reform efforts. Its members included the secretaries of Commerce and Community Development, Digital Services, Education and Human Services, the commissioner of Labor, and staff from the governor’s office.
For context, the document repeats oft-repeated concerns – in particular, by Gov. Phil Scott – about Vermont’s schools. It cites statistics about steadily declining enrollments, rising costs, and the state’s extremely low staff-to-student ratio.
“Vermont’s education delivery will need to adapt to the current demographic context to be successful,” the document states. “We will need to redesign an education delivery system not just make incremental adjustments.”
The document was not publicly available and was leaked to VTDigger. Officials with the governor’s office and the agency acknowledged the document existed and that such conversations had occurred, but hastened to add that there were no plans yet to propose such a reform.
Rebecca Kelley, the governor’s spokesperson, said the document was not a “policy paper” but instead a “conversation fielder.”
And Ted Fisher, an agency spokesperson, said the document – and a follow-up expected out Friday – should not be considered “policy proposals” but “collaborative efforts to imagine a new system focused on quality and equity.”
“The secretary is leading a visioning process to reimagine the future structure of our education system,” Fisher said. “This is a strategic exercise internal to the Agency of Education designed to surface opportunities to create a more coherent and integrated approach to delivering education and related human services.”
Fisher added that a second version of the document would be ready on Friday with “significant updates, more developed policy proposals and additional materials,” and he offered to share that document publicly then.
State Board of Education Chair Krista Huling said she hadn’t seen the document and didn’t feel comfortable commenting until she had read it. Bill Mathis, the board’s vice chair, said he also hadn’t seen it and that it was “disconcerting” that discussion on the subject had gone as far as it had without wider input and a more public process.
“This comes as a surprise and government should not have surprises,” he said.
The document itself appears to explain why so few people were involved in its development, by way of a discussion on the difference between a “representative” and “design” strategy. A representative strategy, it states, “is often used when a solution to a problem already exists, and when affirmation of stakeholder values or current practices supersedes the need for change.”
A design strategy, meanwhile, “is more useful when there is a need to create a new policy solution.” In that case, “a small design team is assembled with the goal of rapidly creating a viable design prototype.”
Legislative leaders said they had gotten wind, secondhand, of discussions of a statewide school district, but then been reassured by French that conversations were entirely theoretical and would not be brought forward during the legislative session.
Rep. Kate Webb, D-Shelburne, the new chair of the House Education committee, said French had characterized the conversations as “futuristic thinking.”
“It wasn’t anything that he was interested in pursuing at this point,” she said.
Webb said she had heard a white paper existed on the subject but that she hadn’t seen it or had access to it.
“The secretary is really thinking about a future of education. I guess it would be my hope that it would be a very distant future,” she added.
Sen. Phil Baruth, D/P-Chittenden, the chair of the Senate Education committee, also said he had been assured that a statewide school district was, at this point, simply a “thought experiment.”
“He’s new. He’s trying his best to think things through from the beginning, as opposed to coming in and just patching up the tires. So I give him credit for that,” he said.Page 1 of 10
ACT 46 Forced Merger Update.
Based on the recent ACT 46 lawsuit development the January 29th, Town meeting will be canceled. The lawsuit has given us a minimum extension of 5 weeks. This lawsuit has 32+ districts named as the Plaintiffs against the State Board of Education. The Below email was sent to me today.
Hello All –
I am writing to provide you with notice of a development that will impact the timing of transitional activities for your new union school district. As you are aware, one or more of the forming districts in your supervisory union has filed suit challenging the State Board’s Order.
The Attorney General’s Office has reached an interim scheduling agreement with a number of districts who filed suit. Part of the interim scheduling agreement will require your new union school district to hold its organizational meeting beginning in the third week in February, rather than the date originally warned for the organizational meeting.
If your transitional board or initial board wishes to propose amendments to the default articles of agreement, that, if approved by the voters, would take effect prior to July 1, 2019 (including amendments initially drafted by the amendment committee) then they should be warned after the organizational meeting pursuant to 16 V.S.A. §706n.
We will prepare new warnings that can be finalized and sent to you as soon as dates are confirmed.
We will provide you with additional information as we receive it and will prepare guidance documents as soon thereafter as possible.
Agency of Education
o) 802-479-1418 | c) 802-595-4775
219 North Main Street | Suite 402 | Barre City Place | Barre, VT 05641
2018 Youth Risk Survey Results
JANUARY 2019 SUPERINTENDENT & CENTRAL OFFICE REPORTS
2018 Equalization Study Results
All Districts In WNESU
ADDITIONAL ACT 46 FORCED MERGER INFORMATION
Finale Articles of Agreement From the State
WNESU Central Office Report's
WNESU Central Office Report's
Secretary of Education, Dan French, Visits the Westminster School
On Tuesday, Oct 23, the Secretary of Education visited and toured the Westminster School. The Deputy Secretary of Education was visiting BFUHS at the on the same day. As was part of the "Capital for the Day" Capital for a day is a day the Governor's cabinet visits different areas of Vermont. Depending on the position they hold determines where they will spend their time.