A Message From Superintendent Tracy Wrend
I hope you have all enjoyed your summer and had the opportunity to spend some quality time with your children during these beautiful summer days. We very much look forward to welcoming them back to school next week.
We are pleased to kick off this new school year with some good news regarding Proficiency Based Learning. As we make the shift to a proficiency-based system, with the goal of improving student achievement for all students, we continue to monitor the implications for students beyond high school. We are pleased that high school student GPAs continue to reflect both a broad range of student performance and unique student performance that continues to meet the needs of colleges, universities and other post-secondary learning opportunities.
At both Peoples Academy (PA) and Stowe High School (SHS) all students receiving feedback through our new proficiency system saw GPAs that reflected a range of student achievement consistent with prior years. In addition to similar rates of unique GPAs between students graded using the old and new systems, student GPAs followed similar distributions.
Colleges and universities have assured us that they can evaluate and accept students who are graded using a proficiency-based system and offer concrete suggestions and considerations for the shift which we continue to incorporate. Vermont colleges have highlighted the model transcripts developed for both SHS and PA as exemplars that work well for college admissions. All PA students in the class of 2018 successfully applied for and were accepted into competitive colleges and universities. PA students in the class of 2019 are beginning to learn of scholarships and awards and are doing so successfully with GPAs on a 5.0 scale.
We will continue to improve our practices for giving good feedback (grades) in our proficiency-based system. Our system can help students and teachers better describe quality and define what students should know. Learning is enhanced when students are clear on expectations and can see learning progress as growth moves toward proficiency. When students use feedback as a learning or revision tool it teaches them to self-assess and reflect on their work. A proficiency based system also helps teachers provide more effective feedback to students. Good feedback allows students to show growth over time as they work towards proficiency, and in many cases they will be able to refine their work after feedback. This represents a shift from traditional grades, which generally represent an average of where students start out and where they end up (and often how they behaved along the way). Throughout the school year, teachers will continue working with students and families to better understand their grades and use feedback to guide and empower learning.
Finally, I would be remiss in light of recent events in our greater community – graffiti on the grounds of Morristown schools and reports of racist slurs in the Stowe community – if I did not mention that we will be placing particular emphasis this year on equity. We have a goal to foster classrooms of personally and socially responsible citizens where students act upon their rights and obligations as informed, respectful individuals and citizens of a democratic and interdependent society. As educators we have a systematic obligation to address equity and will be doing so as vocal and visible advocates of equity and by better supporting and understanding the needs of minority students and families.
Thank you for entrusting us with your children’s education. We look forward to helping them learn and grow throughout the year ahead.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding proficiency based learning or any other aspects of your child’s education please do not hesitate to reach out. I can be reached at: [email protected] or by calling 888-4541.
EMUU Board Brief
August 21, 2018
Back to school discussion and updates on summer construction were among the items discussed at the EMUU board meeting on August 21.
Recent Event The Board discussed the hateful and bigoted graffiti recently found on school grounds. All board members condemned this incident and all acts of hatred, bigotry, anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance of any kind. The board is committed to supporting our students, school and community in sustaining a civil environment that is welcoming and respectful to all.
Policy In response to a request from the SSD board, the EMUU board agreed to develop and approve policies at the LSSU level. The LSSU board will begin conversations about a supervisory union-wide policy review process at their next meeting, September 26.
Board Goals The board began a conversation about goals and focus areas for the year and will continue the conversation at their September 4 meeting. The board is also planning to continue explorations of changes to the annual meeting date, as they want to support strong community attendance and participation.
Tax Rate The board reviewed property tax rates for the coming year, which are lower than projected at the Annual Meeting. Elmore's Local Homestead tax rate is $1.432 which is 5.5 cents lower than was projected. Morristown’s Local Homestead tax rates is $1.380 which is 5.3 cents lower than projected, and reflects a slight decrease in rates from last year. Local Non Homestead tax rates are also lower than was projected by 5 cents and 4.7 cents in Elmore and Morristown respectively. Differences in tax rates between the two towns are due to differences in Common Level of Appraisal (CLA).
As we work to provide more effective communication, our Board Briefs will be included in the supervisory union’s E-Newsletter that will be posted at https://www.lamoillesouthsu.org/blog.php the Thursday following our board meeting. More detailed information regarding Elmore-Morristown Unified Union School Board meetings can be found in our board minutes: https://www.morrisville.org/emuu-school-board.php
SSD Board Brief
August 20, 2018
At our first meeting of the school year, we reviewed work completed over the summer and discussed plans for the year ahead.
Act 46 During the summer, Cara Zimmerman, SSD Board Chair, and Stephanie Craig, EMUU Board Chair, presented additional information supporting our Alternative Governance application to the Board of Education (SBE). The focus was on the implications of the EMUU merger and how we support regional equity. We continue to monitor the process and will respond if needed prior to the State Board of Education’s decision in November around potentially merging additional districts.
Tax Rate Our final tax rate came in lower than the tax rate voters approved in March. Our local homestead tax rate is 1.519 (approved at 1.578); our local non-homestead tax rate is 1.642 (approved at 1.693).
Facilities SES: gym floor installed and bleachers will be installed early September. SMS/SHS: mechanical work completed on the boiler; bleachers will be installed early September.
Safety Stowe received close to the maximum grant amounts allocated by the State. SES: $24,987 to expand card access and install additional security cameras. SMS/SHS: $24,750 to change interior locks, add security cameras, and upgrades. By the time school starts, ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Attack) training will be complete for all faculty and staff.
Communication Look for communication about our board goals, coming soon. Leonine Public Affairs has written a communication plan for LSSU that begins with this school year.
As we work to provide more effective communication, our Board Briefs will be included in the supervisory union’s E-Newsletter that will be posted at https://www.lamoillesouthsu.org/blog.php the Thursday following our board meeting. More detailed information regarding Stowe School Board meetings can be found in our board minutes: https://www.stoweschoolsvt.com/ssd-school-board.php