A Message From Superintendent Tracy Wrend
Welcome back! I hope all had a nice break from distance learning and were able to re-energize for the remainder of the school year. Over the break, I was able to reflect on our work together over the first several weeks of this public health crisis. I am incredibly proud of all that each and every member of our education community contributed towards our successes. Education has always relied on a strong school-family-community partnership for excellence, and that has never been more true than it is today.
As we look to the future, we remain committed to sustaining the learning opportunities and high-quality education that the communities of Elmore, Morristown, and Stowe value. However, we are also mindful of the extremely challenging economic circumstances affecting every Vermonter and the State as a whole. Given this, we are actively reviewing all vacant positions for the coming school year and considering not filling some vacant positions. The board began this consideration at their most recent meeting, and additional review will likely continue through the spring. Only essential purchases are being approved for the remainder of this budget year, and we will be reviewing all planned expenditures for the upcoming school year as well as we approach the start of next school year. Social distancing is likely to be a part of our daily lives in the future and economic pressure may take some time to resolve. As we always have, we will address challenges thoughtfully, with determination and innovation.
Lamoille South Unified Union Board Brief
April 20, 2020
The board held its remote meeting using Zoom, following the new state law for public meetings during the current state of emergency. Information about how to attend virtual board meetings is included in meeting agendas that are posted at town offices, schools, and on the LSUU website. If individuals have feedback on the Zoom platform, please email the superintendent; there are other options for meetings we can consider if needed.
Distance Learning Update
Tracy Wrend provided board members with an update on distance learning, focusing on two main themes: student attendance and engagement in learning, and feedback received from the recent parent survey.
Tracy outlined that schools began taking daily attendance through the district’s student information system on April 20. In the first three weeks of distance learning, each school developed a system that worked to keep track of daily check-ins. She said students understand that attendance counts, and protocols are in place at each school to track and identify those that need additional supports.
Tracy shared that at the elementary level it is estimated that we are connecting with 90% or more of our students each day. Work completion is estimated to be about 70% at MES and 90% at SES for core academics. Both schools are seeing less student engagement in the unified arts and specials.
Middle school check-in rates are similar to the elementary and are at 90% or higher. PAML work completion is estimated at about 50%. Students needing extra supports have been identified and we are confident this percentage will soon increase. At SMS, Advisory sessions are well attended and teachers are reporting that students are able to maintain their learning.
Both high schools also have daily connections of 90% or higher and report patterns similar to when classes were in session. SHS finds that 9th and 10th-grade students are very engaged, but there are pockets of students in grades 11 and 12 that are doing less than expected. Both PA and SHS are working through processes to identify strategies for increased student engagement.
Tracy also discussed the parent survey that was shared in early April. Seven-hundred five (705) responses were received, and principals are in the process of reviewing the feedback by school. Two questions that many parents had were related to end of year activities and concern that their student is doing okay both academically and socially. The district will have guidance from the Agency of Education by May 8 regarding end of year activities and is working with faculty about how to help parents know how their child is doing using our tools for learning, including Schoology and SeeSaw.
The board is appreciative of the work being done and is confident the district will continue to refine and improve instruction and clarify and improve shared understandings of how we can communicate about student learning.
Meals will continue to be provided. Breakfast and lunch are available to all youth 18 and younger. Youth don’t need to be present to pick-up meals. Stop by MES and SES between 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for grab-and-go service.
Policy First Read
In other business, the board completed a first read on a policy outlining payroll during COVID-19 closure. This policy establishes how LSUU employees will be paid during school closure as mandated by the Governor’s Executive Order. The policy will be warned for adoption on May 4.
Staffing Strategies for FY21
There is an estimated $89 million shortfall in the Education Fund for this current year. We are monitoring developments closely and the effect these revenue shortfalls will have for FY21. The board reviewed open teaching positions due to faculty retirements/resignations for possible restructure, but ultimately decided to fill all with the exception of the Math Teacher Leader position at SES. We also determined that the additional custodial position approved at SHS for FY21 will not be filled.
Facilities Best Use Study
The board approved the $18,770 proposal from NESDEC for completion of a Facilities Best Use Study. The study will help identify the long and short term facilities needs across the district and provide a comprehensive assessment of our existing facilities and grounds.
SMS/SHS Public School Identification Numbers
Stowe Middle School and Stowe High School have one public school identification number even though they operate as two schools. In order to streamline information systems and transcripts, the board has approved the issuance of individual public school identification numbers for Stowe Middle School and Stowe High School as of July 1, 2020.
LSUU’s E-Newsletter, including Board Briefs will be posted at https://www.lamoillesouthsu.org/blog.php the Thursday following each board meeting. You can read it there, or receive it directly by email by subscribing at https://www.lamoillesouthsu.org/blog.php. More detailed information regarding Lamoille South Unified Union School Board meetings can be found in our board minutes: https://www.lamoillesouthsu.org/lsuu-board.php