A Message From Superintendent Tracy Wrend
In two-and-a-half weeks, every member of the LSUU community has contributed beyond measure to the restructuring of our entire education delivery system in response to these unprecedented times. While what we accomplish this spring may be different than what was originally planned, we will emerge stronger than ever before. We will be well-positioned to continue to learn and grow when we are able to resume more normal activities.
LSUU’s culinary team is serving 200-300 meals per day. Childcare for essential service providers is currently being provided by community partners and space is still currently available. We are working with the Local Interagency Networking Team and other community agencies to ensure that children and families are supported.
All K-12 students have been provided a device, such as an iPad or Chromebook, to assist with learning. Middle level and high school students are utilizing the learning management system Schoology, elementary students are utilizing SeeSaw, and several google applications for education are used by all levels. Students who attend GMTCC are also working with their teachers on creative ways to continue learning. All are demonstrating tremendous perseverance, patience and problem-solving as we engage in distance learning practices.
Overall, the first two weeks were spent working on access and engagement and establishing a foundation. Now, we are beginning to revise and adjust based on what we have learned. There are two key learning design principles of Proficiency-Based Learning that are critical in the distance learning context. First, we have to be clear about what we want students to know and be able to do, and second, we have to be very intentional about giving feedback - helping students reflect on what they know, what they are able to do, and their next steps for learning. These are focus areas for our on-going work as we look to improve instruction and learning on a day-to-day basis.
Special Education services have been ramping up as we transition to continuity of education. We started with a focus on the health, safety, and welfare of students and have shifted into communications with families to develop student-specific learning plans for each student who is eligible for special education or related services. These services, too, will evolve as we learn more and as individual student needs change.
A parent survey was shared to gain feedback that will help guide improvements. We received 705 responses, and the feedback suggests a wide range of feelings about how distance learning is going for students and families. Some common challenges include the structure of the day and sustaining student engagement. Two frequently noted successes include connections with teachers and the use of virtual meetings for Teacher Advisory and Morning Meetings.
Everyone has been working exceptionally hard and has done amazing work.
Lamoille South Unified Union Board Brief
April 6, 2020
The board held its first 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.
Tracy Wrend provided an update on the district’s Coronavirus response and progress with distance learning. Board and community members commented regarding the closing of recreational fields and supports for struggling families. Recreational spaces have been closed on the advice of our insurance company. Board members are also interested in more information on student engagement and attendance.
Tracy also reported that there is an estimated $39.5 million shortfall in the Education Fund for FY20. As we continue to learn more about short and long-term financial considerations, we have taken steps within LSUU to prepare. Only essential purchases are being approved for the remainder of this budget year. The Governor’s order requires that we continue to employ all staff for the remainder of the school year, but we have slowed the hiring of vacant positions for FY21 to allow for additional budget review by the board. On-going negotiation meetings were temporarily suspended but will be resuming soon.
The board discussed that April break will continue as scheduled from April 13-17, 2020. Vermont law requires a regional calendar that is followed by schools. Guidance from the Agency of Education is to follow the calendar as outlined. Part of the consideration is the need for faculty and staff from across the state to have time to reflect, reorganize, and reposition themselves for continued distance learning. We should receive additional guidance from the Secretary by May 8 regarding end-of-school-year activities.
Meals will continue to be provided over the April Break. 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.
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