Our District » Superintendent » Report to the Board of Trustees

Report to the Board of Trustees

SSDDMS

In 2018, the General Assembly required SUs/SDs to use the same school financial management system, as selected by the state The state chose Power School's eFinancePlus as the SSDDMS platform.The Shared School District Data Management System is a shared financial and human resources data management system for Vermont Supervisory Unions (SUs) and Supervisory Districts (SDs). The platform supports continued UCOA compliance through a centrally managed chart of accounts, while allowing opportunity for local flexibility and granularity. The system also includes mechanisms for more efficient reporting to the state. 


The UCOA must be implemented by July 1, 2020 (FY2021), and our timeline for the migration to the SSDDMS - the conversion to EfinancePlus will begin on July 1, 2020 and go live on July 1, 2021.  The conversion process is demanding. There are approximately 130 conversion tasks which include set up and function overviews, making decisions, actual setup, training in modular use, and modular testing. It will require performing all necessary financial duties and operating in the existing system while simultaneously setting up the other system and beginning test runs. It will require adhering to the schedule provided by the Agency of Education and Efinance Plus while maintaining all existing timelines required by the state, and for district financial operations. The conversion requires all hands on deck, extensive overtime, and project management support for the business manager. The conversion occurs during the regular business day and requires extensive time tied up in webinars or on the phone with technical support.  Our financial contract with the town creates a unique set of circumstances for us in carrying out this conversion and will be the focus of our special joint meeting on December 10, 2019.



Staffing and Student Services - FY 20 Update

The challenge of filling position vacancies is on the rise in Vermont. According to Lindsay H. Kurrle, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Labor, “Vermont’s aging population and a labor market with more jobs to fill than there are qualified candidates are among the state's biggest workforce worries.” (US News and Report May of 2013) Now add national data regarding teacher shortages. According to Education Week (February 2019), the number of special education teachers nationally has dropped by more than 17 percent over the past decade, a worrisome trend in a career path that has seen chronic shortages for years. One only needs to look on SchoolSpring to verify the trend. Since November 15, 2019, nine SU/SDs in VT had posted for Special Educators. There are dozens of postings for Behavior Interventionist and double that for Special Education paraeducators. MTSD is no stranger to this condition. This year we have struggled to fill several fulltime and long term special education positions. From mid-September through the present, we were short 2 elementary school special educators and 1 in the middle school. This coupled with vacancies for behavior interventionist and Special Needs Programming Specialist has put a strain on student support services. I would like to extend my appreciation to District Office and School-based personnel for their collaboration to think creatively in reassigning roles in supporting students and their plans. 


At this point, we have filled 3 vacancies for Special Needs Programming Specialist, 1 vacancy for a Behavior Interventionist, and we are hopeful that we have secured 2 special educators to be finalized for hire later this month. That being said, we may need additional staff to support newly identified services and to provide make up services lost in the fall.



Staffing - FY 21

Throughout October and November, the MTSD Board of Trustees heard presentations from each District Department - Student Services, Data, Curriculum and Technology, Facilities, and Food Services, and each building administrative team. The MTSD is at a turning point - our world is changing and by nature, the manner in which schools operate and provide services is changing. Additionally, our State is undergoing changes and this has resulted in a multitude of new State mandates and accountability systems. This impacts all aspects of our organization, including: funding, resource allocation, the delivery of services, accounting and reporting, administrative duties, contract negotiations, infrastructure, testing and so on. We need to continue to structure and resource our educational programming so that we can address equity and close the achievement gap, the challenges related to social-emotional development, and personal health and get results for children. We need to provide a diversity of programming to ensure all students are prepared for success in college, career, and as citizens of a democratic society. Likewise, need to provide safe and healthy facilities and learning environments that meet the needs of our changing world. 


Instructional 

Position

FTE

Rationale

District

Instructional Coach

1.0

Education research is evolving rapidly. Professional learning is essential for increasing the evidence-based instructional capacity of professional staff. The Vermont Education Quality Standards (Rule 2000) states that “Time for professional learning should be embedded into the school day.”  This position will ensure new teachers receive intensive instructional mentoring and experienced teachers receive the job-embedded instructional coaching and support they need to build and maintain their skills. In addition, this position will build sustainability structures and practices as required by the grant-funded professional development we have hosted, including our recent multi-year math professional development initiative.

Restorative Approaches Coordinator

1.0

The Vermont Agency of Education is working with schools to move away from exclusionary discipline. In its place, we will be moving toward Restorative Practices. Why?  “Restorative approaches promote social engagement and connection (1) proactively to build community and connection (Tier I), (2) when things go wrong and relationships need repair (Tier II), and (3) when an individual needs more intensive support to feel a sense of belonging (Tier III). Research shows a clear connection between outcomes and students’ sense of connection, belonging, and being part of the school community (CDC, 2009). School connectedness was found to be the strongest protective factor for both boys and girls to decrease substance use, school absenteeism, early sexual initiation, violence, and risk of unintentional injury, emotional distress, disordered eating, and suicidal ideation and attempts.” (Sacks et al., 2014)  (From “Implementing Restorative Practices and Principles in Vermont Schools” VT AOE, 2016) Our successful implementation of Restorative Practices and Principles depends on an aligned, community-wide understanding and implementation. This can only be accomplished with investment in the coordination of this effort.

MES & MMS

Behavior Specialist

2.0

Beyond opportunities to learn, schools must now be prepared to provide specialized medical, social and mental health services.  The children who have problematic behaviors need more than to be punished and/or removed from class. Experience and data clearly demonstrates that this approach does not serve our children or our long term goal for safe and vibrant communities. The new mindset must take into consideration and be responsive to the root causes of why some children are not ready to learn. Adding a Behavior Specialist would promote this goal and allow expertise:

  • In the  development of behavior interventions for students consistently displaying unexpected behaviors
  • With the oversight of Behavior Interventionists - training, monitoring the implementation of plans, feedback loops…
  • Team collaboration and the development of innovative strategies, preventative approaches, and proactive plans for students who exhibit at-risk behaviors
  • Teacher skill development to support students who are having trouble accessing their learning due to unexpected behaviors. 

4-8 & 9-12

Safe and Inclusive Schools Coordinator

2.0

The roles of a school principal  has expanded considerably in recent years. 

  •  School safety has taken on a new meaning. Preparing teachers, students and families along with writing new procedures, and reconsidering budget allocations and facility needs in the wake of mass shootings is much more comprehensive than planning the monthly fire drill. 
  • Student mental health needs have increased dramatically requiring principals to leverage and support staff differently, rethink programming and engage community partners.
  • More stringent legal and ethical laws related to child protection, student behavior and personnel issues require a high level of new expertise, oversight, and reporting.
  • Expertise in race, diversity and inclusion is now understood as a critical component in developing safe and inclusive schools. This  requires time and attention in order to train and support teachers and staff, evaluate policies and curriculum...
  • School accountability measures are also changing and require principals to have oversight in each of the 5 Domains and 20 Subdomains, monitor progress and report out on for the VT School Snapshot.

This position is necessary because in our new age, principals are spending over 65% of their time managing day to day student and staff needs versus planning for and providing instructional leadership necessary to  implement State and local initiatives and improve student outcomes. Currently, over half of the principal’s time is spent on student  needs, especially in the area of student discipline, prevention, and support.  In a current conversation with our Teacher Development Coach, her observation from over 3 years is that the principal role in both MMS and MHS lacks attention to instructional leadership due to the lack of a position to manage student support.  In all of her other schools, a position such as this exists to allow the principal role to focus more solidly on teacher development.

 

This position would focus student support. The person would have administrative oversight

  • In the development, planning,  and implementation of proactive student support structures - restorative approaches, revision of relevant policies, and 
  • In the supervision of all Behavior Specialists, Interventionists and other Student Safety related positions - nurses, school counselors... 
  •  HHB complaints, which have increased dramatically -  (56 reports in the first 2 months of 20118-19 as compared to 87 reports in the same time span this year)
  • Administrative responses to discipline issues, and also support systems and structures in place that keep students in the classrooms

MHS

Pathway Coordinator 

1.0

This position would ensure that MHS has a robust flexible pathway program and that personalized learning opportunities are available and accessible to all students on and off site. This person would be responsible for coordinating the state mandated Personalized Learning Plan process for the class of 2021 and beyond through the Teacher Advisory (TA) curriculum planning and supervision of PLPs. They would also be the School to Career liaison - forging partnerships with local organizations for students to access job shadows, internships and school to work programs while earning credit for graduation. Milton is one of the few high schools that does not have a position dedication to Flexible Pathways and this is putting our students at a disadvantage. Parents and students are looking for additional options such as internships and opportunities to apply their skills in a unique way.  Having a coordinator to organize and pursue options would greatly enhance our options for students at MHS.



Non-instructional

Position

FTE

Rationale

Custodian

1.0

Addition of a new building

Tech I

1.0

Addition of 1:1 technology in elementary school has increased the need to a Tech I to manage deployment and maintenance

Project Manager

.50

1 Year - To support the conversion to EfinancePlus

   

 

Vermont School Board and Vermont Superintendent Annual Conference

The annual conference was this past week - November 7 and 8, and I attended both days along with Mike Joseph and Jeremy Metcalf. There were many highlights of the conference, including

  1. Our district presentation - MTSD SOARS. Along with myself, the board and Lynne Manley, 3 students (Mira Fillion, Xavier Bessette and Colbie Miller) conducted two presentations to conference attendees about our process for creating a district vision and strategic plan. Due to ACT 46 and the merging of districts across VT, many boards and superintendents are in need of developing an articulated vision and direction for their newly created districts. They found are presentation engaging and beneficial.
  2. The keynote presentation - a Portrait of A Graduate, both confirmed our current work for developing a district vision and strategic plan and offered a couple of ideas to consider as we move ahead in the process. For me, the most salient idea was to engage local businesses and community services in a round table discussion; that is to share with them our whole child framework and priorities we have for our graduates and then 1.) get feedback and 2.) discuss their needs and how we may partner to support each other.
  3. I attended an excellent workshop of the state of the state regarding school district facilities and the importance of engaging the community in a long term Facilities Master Plan.
  4. Last, there were several student presentations that were extremely powerful in highlighting the importance of believing in and supporting all students - not putting them in a box, providing opportunities for personalization, and authentic student voice.

Messages from the Field of Education

Recently, we received the first of four Agency of Education memos related to the provision of technical guidance for the implementation of ACT 173. Foremost, I think it is important to highlight that these memos are specific to educational programming and are not related to guidance for understanding, creating or managing budgets related to the change in the funding mechanism for Special Education.


The memos will focus on each of the following topics:

  1. Educational Support Teams
  2. Local Common Assessment System
  3. A Viable and Coordinated Curriculum
  4. Needs Based, Embedded Professional Development

Each memo will be divided into 4 sections:

  • Section one will provide a definition of the topic so there is clarity about how the topic is situated in the current regulatory and practice context. 
  • Section two will describe why the topic is a major systems lever for the successful implementation of Act 173. Systems lever is defined as an organizational structure that can be used to quickly bring about the alignment of instructional support activities to enhance the effectiveness, availability and equity of services provided to students who require additional supports among all schools in a district.
  • Section three will describe how to implement the topic in the context of a school district system. This is an important consideration, since SU/SD policies emanating from the state have pointed to centralizing key instructional systems at the SU/SD level
  • Section four will outline how the AOE plans to provide leadership, support and oversight relative to the topic.

This first memo, Educational Support Teams in School District Systems: Act 173 Technical Guidance highlights the importance of the Educational Support Team (EST) for a system’s approach to supporting all students and especially those who struggle. 


The MTSD Leadership Team has taken time to collectively read this document. As a result, we are examining our EST practices across the district. Historically, EST has been a school based system with little district oversight. In thinking about the State requirements for centralizing systems, our next step is to align our practices across the district and think about how best to conduct oversight from a district perspective. This may include considering existing position structures and how to best reconfigure positions or position descriptions. 



Community Leaders Diversity and Inclusion Training

Over the course of two half Saturdays, members of the School Board of Trustees and other community leaders came together to participate in a Diversity and Inclusion training with Rebecca Haslam of Seed the Way and Saint Micheal’s. The training first provided us with an opportunity to articulate, as community leaders, what we hope for in our community. We learned about a framework and a set of tools or strategies to help us. The four part framework, which is from the organization, Teaching Tolerance, provides guidance for interrupting harmful behaviors, calling people into difficult conversations, educating constituents, and appreciating partners. The majority of our time was spent practicing how to use these tools. We talked through scenarios and practiced engaging others in difficult conversations in ways that produce better results. Although the focus was on emotional topics of race and diversity, the tools we learned could be used across many topics leaders face in their day to day work. 



Partnerships for LIteracy and Learning (https://www.pllvt.org)- Continued Work

Our goal is to continue to work with PLL to continue the development of our PK-12 ELA curriculum. This work will result in sustainable improvement in literacy instruction and achievement in literacy. Their focus is on learner-centered, evidence-based literacy instruction. This year’s grant-funded work will continue where we left off this summer, and the goal is to finish curriculum writing by the end of the summer of 2020.

CIP Goal 2 & 3: Learning and Areas of Focus 2019-20

Social Emotional Health - Effectively meeting students’ needs 

School Culture and Climate - Improving the experience for all members of the school community

  1. Restorative Practices - professional learning and dissemination of resources toward a district wide approach of restorative practices
    1. District professional learning group to learn, design, and implement district wide and school specific training and structures
    2. Restorative Approach Collaborative (RAC)
      1. MTSD is 1 of 3 SU/SDs that are a recipient of the VT AOE Restorative Approaches Grant.
      2. Grant allocations were the result of several legislative hearings where experts in the field, alongside educators and students spoke to the need for the restorative approach in addressing not only issues of equity in schools but the need to develop learning environments where everyone experiences safety, respect, belonging, voice and accountability
      3. As a member of the cohort, a team of educators (and students) across the District join with 2 other SDs (Rutland Northeast and Mount Mansfield Union School District) to deepen our knowledge and skills of restorative practices and to work in teams to support our district efforts to implement restorative practices using a consultant / coach
      4. Our RAC coach presented during the District Inservice on October 18
  2. Inclusion, Race and Diversity
    1. Beyond Diversity
      1. In addition to our Beyond Diversity work - see SR - October 14, 2019, a team of educators and students attended the Rowland Conference on October 23, 2019
      2. Rowland Conference
        1. Robin Diangelo, author of White Fragility, gave a compelling Keynote address focused on the conditions of race dynamics below the surface. She provided insight to becoming aware of race dynamics - universally and internally, along with how to think and/or engage differently 
        2. MTSD students of Social Justice participated in a workshop on raising the Black Lives Matter flag. Along with 5 or 6 other schools around the state, our students shared their stories with other interested students and educators. 
    2. MTSD / Town Training
      1. Reminder that our next training with Rebecca Haslam will be on November 9
      2. Location - MES Library 
      3. Time - 9 a.m to noon
  3. Wellness Policy and Committee
    1. In accordance with our Wellness Policy, we are revitalizing the MTSD Wellness Committee. 
      1. Diverse stakeholders - food services, nurse, physical education / health teachers, community partners, students and parents
        1. Need of new parents and students
      2. Meet 2 times per year (more if necessary)
        1. November
        2. April
    2. Committee Work
      1. Review and revise the policy as necessary
      2. Tackle any concerns
      3. Identify any elements of school improvement related to Wellness and use the committee as a means to review the work, engage stakeholders and communicate the work

October 18, 2019 Teacher Inservice

The MTSD had a very productive day of learning and togetherness on Friday, October 18, 2019.  The day began with Annie O’Shaughnessy our Restorative Approaches coach who in one hour provided us with strategies to center ourselves and engage mindfully with others, including:

  1. Just like Tom Brady takes care of his arm, consider it your "professional responsibility" to take care of your mind, body and spirit. Your grounded and warm presence will positively impact your colleagues and students more than any technique. I give you permission to say no more often.
  2. Use "two feet-one breath" at every doorway, before a conversation, and most importantly, before addressing a student's misbehavior. Check in with yourself and drop what you think you know.
  3. Lead your responses to student misbehavior with some acknowledgement of their reality--"Must be hard sitting still for an hour", "Following rules all day is not much fun, is it?" 
  4. Prioritize what you know humans need to thrive through structures, routines, practices.

After Annie, each school had a 2 hour session with Outright Vermont, an organization committed to building safe, healthy, and supportive environments for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth ages. They engaged the faculty in thinking about the social construct of gender along with the experience youth have in school and how to better support them. 

Lastly, we revisited the MTSD Vision of Learning work and sought feedback from all faculty regarding the draft mission statement and revised core beliefs and values. The committee will meet next month to review the input and make adjustments toward a final revision.


VSBA / VSA

VSBA Regional Meeting - Jeremy attending the regional meeting in Winooski last week. I am sharing a portion of the slide show, specific to State wide negotiations for health care. A decision will be communicated by December 15, 2019 and this will help us plan for negotiations.


I also included information related to regional school redistricting. A discussion will take place on November 7, 2019 during the VSA/VSBA annual conference at Lake Morey.

VSBA Regional Meeting Notes

Budget Timeline

This year we will be building two budgets using the zero-based budgeting methodology. The first draft will be based on existing services with estimations in some areas (like supplies and equipment maintenance) being as close to accurate as possible. One challenge we have is that the process for building budgets has simply been to roll over the previous year. This has happened for many years.  Another challenge is that we do not have historical data that shows the budget amount compared to actual spending. Therefore, we do not have accurate data as to which line items were under or overspent. Due to both of these challenges, it will take longer to build the budget. Principals and Department Supervisors, some for the very first time, will be required to really think about and then identify their needs and the associated costs. Another learning curve is that they will need to learn how to itemize all goods and services to the appropriate object codes. The second budget draft will be based on existing services with estimations in some areas (like supplies and equipment maintenance) being as close to accurate as possible plus any changes (adds, deletions, and/or substitutions) from the previous year that we feel are necessary to advance the educational experience and learning of our children. 


Budget Timeline - Board

Presentations to the Board

10/14 - 

  • Special Education
  • Facilities
  • Technology

10/28 - 

  • MES 
  • MMS 
  • MHS

11/11 - 

  • PreK
  • 5th Grade 

12/2 -  First Drafts of the Budget


District Operations

Throughout last year and over the summer, District Office in collaboration with school administration and other personnel have been working on many areas to ensure effective and efficient organizational operations. This will continue to be a work in progress over the next few years. Simply, there is a lot to do.


Work In Progress

  1. Procedures Associated w/ Policy - with the revision and adoption of policies, all policies that require either policy or operational procedures need to be reviewed and revised as appropriate. Additionally, some procedures need to be written. It is not unusual in a district with a lot of change over in leadership for operational procedures to become lost, confused and/or a matter of practice understood only by veteran staff.
    1. Completed:
      1. Attendance
      2. Facility Use
      3. Hazing, Bullying and Harassment
      4. Substitute Teachers
    2. Work in Progress
      1. Student Records
      2. Title I Parental Involvement
      3. Tobacco Prohibition
      4. Class Size 
      5. Truancy 
      6. Participation of Home Study Students 
  2. Operational Procedures  
    1. In accordance with our substitute procedures we have a process for orienting substitutes along with an update substitute handbook that all substitutes will be required to read and sign off on annually.  
    2. Previously, the district did not have a staff handbook. Something as simple as forms, were filed in various locations leading staff to use different renditions of a form depending on where they found it. Although the staff handbook is a work in progress, we have made great strides. MTSD Staff Handbook Likewise, we are continuing to work on our student/family handbooks to ensure that they align across the district. 
    3. Supervision and Evaluation for support staff and independent contracts. The process for supervision and evaluation for support staff and independent contracts was incredibly cumbersome at one level and incredibly vague and poorly executed at another. Throughout last year and over the summer, Terry and I worked with various stakeholders including MESA to revise the existing system. The new structure provides a greater level of efficiency and clarity for both supervisors and staff. This was obtained by creating a rubric (versus a checklist) and eliminating the goal setting and goal progress monitoring meetings required for all staff throughout the year. Goal setting will only be required for staff who are in need of an improvement plan.  SS Rubric and SS Evaluation Process 
    4. Administrative Assistant Reorganization of Roles. With the resignation of Jamie, I worked with Terry, Jen, Lynne and Tammy to review roles and responsibilities of the existing administrative assistant positions in the district office, identified gaps in the operations of the district, and then grouped responsibilities that were more aligned in terms of knowledge, skills and work flow. As a result we are working on finalizing new job descriptions that better meet the needs of the district office. These will be available for your review on 10/14. In the meantime, the general reorganization includes:
      1. Executive Assistant to Superintendent & Communications Specialist - 1.0 FTE 
      2. Registrar/Administrative Assistant to Data & Assessment - School Year Only
      3. Administrative Assistant to District Operations - 1.0 FTE (an increase from a .875 FTE). This will need your approval before we can begin the interview process. Currently, we do have cost savings with replacement hires that occurred over the summer.
        1. Operational Support - Financials
        2. Operational Support - Grants / Curriculum
        3. Operational Support - Board and Policy

Safety

On September 17, 2019 members of the District Office and  MES administration and staff attended a Tabletop Exercise at the Milton Fire House. It was hosted by Taylor Yeates, Milton Town Emergency Planner. The purpose of this exercise was to prepare for our first school evacuation drill. Taylor presented us with a scenario. We talked through the various factors of leading an evacuation given the scenario identifying strengths and gaps in our system. Our first drill will be in October and will be with students and staff in K-4 only. A letter explaining evacuation drills will be sent to all families this week along with a Focus Magnet that families can put on their refrigerator or in their car to remind them of what is helpful in responding to an emergency situation.  A follow up letter will be sent to families in K-4 announcing the drill.

Clearly the school year has begun and the pace is fast and furious. Aside from the challenges in transportation that occurred over the course of the first three days, we have had a stellar start. MES staff are reporting that there is a noticeable difference to the tenor of the building. Those I spoke with are attributing it to the additional space, a clear focus in educational programming expectations and a more orderly morning and afternoon routine leading to a smoother transition for students.  



Start Time Survey

  • During the 2017/18 school year, a group of students, faculty and administrators began looking at the research related to start times for older students. 
  • Last year, we conducted a survey and received 760 responses. 
    • 75% of the respondents indicated that they were in favor of changing the high school / middle school time to 8:45 a.m
    • 61% of the respondents indicated that they were in favor of changing the elementary school start time to 7:45 a.m
    • All respondents had many questions and a few concerns.
  • This year, we would like to present a proposal (September 23 Board Meeting) and then follow up with a Community Forum.

Board Tasks:

  • Set a date, time, place…  for the forum
  • Identify needed resources
  • Engagement strategies - getting folks to attend


Equity and Diversity Training:

  • The poll indicates that the best dates are October 12; October 26 and November 9. My thinking is that the latter dates may be better as the length of time between 10/12 and 11/9 may be too long.  
  • The training will consist of laying the groundwork for shared understanding, tools for leveraging leadership roles in equity work, and practicing engagement strategies.

Board Task:

  • Confirm dates
  • Identify place
  • Invite other community leaders ?

ACT 173

On September 1, school districts received a Summary of Technical Assistance (9 pages) from Secretary French.  The communique outlines the AOE’s plan for technical assistance toward the development of strong school district systems to support student success. It also outlines major areas of responsibility for supervisory districts (SD). The summary addresses the AOE’s commitment to providing technical assistance directed at the SD/SU level in two areas:

  1. The shift to block funding for special education
  2. The expansion and improvement for the delivery of services to students who require additional support

  

The summary also mentions that assistance needs to be well balanced and grounded in statute and regulation. To that end, Secretary French highlighted the role of School Boards, Regulatory compliance can be an important tool for strengthening student support systems. SU/SD boards have an important role to play in enacting Education Quality Standards (EQS) rules and practices across and within their systems. Although the State is ultimately responsible for the education of its students, it delegates significant authority to school boards who are responsible for ensuring the goals of quality, equity and efficiency are achieved (16 V.S.A. § 261a).”


The Theory of Action outlined in the summary, states:

 If the board of each SU/SD ensures that: 

  1. each school implements the district's written and delivered curriculum (2120.6. Curriculum Coordination); and 
  2. each supervisory union or school district develops and implements a system of appropriate needs-based professional learning for all professional staff, including administrators and other staff involved in student instruction, with time for professional learning embedded into the school day (2121.3. Needs Based Professional Learning); and 
  3. each school administers assessments of student performance using methods developed by the State Board of Education with students who are unable to participate in district or state assessments given an alternate assessment (2123.2. Development and Implementation of Local Comprehensive Assessment System); and 
  4. each school maintains an educational support team to engage in collaborative problem- solving to determine whether additional supports are needed for a student to make appropriate progress, and to monitor that progress (16 V.S.A. § 2902. Tiered system of supports and educational support team); 

then Vermont’s SU/SDs will enhance the effectiveness, availability and equity of services provided to all students who require additional support.  

Last, for each of the 4 stated theories, the summary also outlines action steps. As this information is extremely dense and yet critical to our own theory of action, I am thinking we may want to take one theory at a time and dissect it. In this way, you can have both an understanding of the theory and action steps and its implication for our district planning and implementation. 

Safety

  • ALiCE
    • Pre-service
      • New faculty and staff will complete the on-line training.
      • Kendra will provide an introductory overview to the entire district during pre-service on August 26.
      • In collaboration with the town, after Kendra’s presentation, we will conduct violent intruder mock scenarios for all faculty and staff.
      • Teachers have been provided with information - tips, for setting up their classroom
    • Kendra will follow up with each building and department to provide additional information specific to their areas and answer questions
    • Community informational letters will be mailed, inclusive of magnets after school begins
    • In collaboration with the town, we are planning evacuation drills for grade clusters for the fall and spring.
  • Worker’s Compensation
    • Presentation on August 26th by Hickok and Boardman
    • Walk Through assessment of all facilities
    • Green Mountain Safety to attend MES/MMS and MHS Safety Committee meeting to review best practices
    • Review of WC reporting and monitoring of claims

MTSD Leadership Team Retreat

  • 3 Full Days 
  • Focus
    • Form and Function - District Office / Principals
    • Clarity of purpose - mission and vision
      • Review of MTSD Board’s strategic planning
      • Next iteration of the Whole Child Framework and Vision of Learning
    • Continuous Improvement Plan Goals
      • Current work in each school
      • Next steps
      • Aligning future work
      • Cycle of improvement
      • Communicating with stakeholders

I am extremely pleased with the work of the leadership team; they are demonstrating a high level of growth to ensure a coherent PreK-22 approach to programming that will support student achievement and success.  In all three schools, not only are the work plans aligned well in conjunction with the Continuous Improvement Plan, but they clearly show an extension and deepening of the work that was begun last year.  


MTSD Board Retreat, Work Plan and Next Steps


Follow Up Items

  • Diversity and Inclusion Training - I reached out to Rebecca Haslam and am waiting for a response
  • Construction and transportation - Tricia, Jamie and I attended a meeting with the town and our Green Mountain representative, Paul Clancy. 
    • Jamie is working on communication notifications
    • Tricia and Paul are meeting to review the routes to submit to the newspaper
    • We decided that the adjusted routes would stay the same throughout the fall and then return to normal after the December break.

Teacher Proposal

Pete Wyndorf, Milton High School social studies teacher who has dedicated many years to expanding his own professional growth and thus in turn made outstanding contributions to the MTSD through innovative program development is seeking a two year leave of absence so that he and his family may live and teach abroad. 


In the field of education, as in many fields, it is essential to broaden the lense, experience opportunities that will inspire creativity, and reflect on one’s’ purpose in order to rejuvenate one’s will and commitment. To that end, I would like to support Pete and his family if they choose to embark on this two year adventure reserving his position for him upon their return. 


Integrated Field Review

Foremost, I would like to recognize our IFR teacher leaders Christina Reider; Frances Binder and Leslie Reed. Along with our administrators, the IFR Team serves 2 very important roles. First, to be trained and then to participate in conducting a Field Review in another district. Second, to organize and then facilitate our review. Membership on this team has required 3-5 days of additional professional responsibilities this year, and I truly appreciate the time and energy all of our folks have put in toward this new endeavor in measuring school accountability. 


I would also like to thank all other stakeholders:

  • Teachers who opened their classrooms and participated in interviews
  • Students who lead tours and also participated in interviews
  • Families that participated in interviews

Our Integrated Field Review took place on Thursday, April 4th. In addition to a comprehensive document review, the visiting team conducted observations, interviews and tours to glean information about the MTSD. This information will be collated into a report of commendations and recommendations. We look forward to receiving the feedback.


As a reminder, the Integrated Field Review is part of the Vermont Plan to meet the new ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) accountability measures. An overview of the Vermont Plan is HERE


Compassion Fatigue

On Wednesday, April 3rd all faculty and staff gathered in the afternoon for a highly engaging and informative presentation on Compassion Fatigue by Joelle Van Lent.  Participants came away with an understanding of the physical, emotional and mental signs of compassion fatigue along with strategies for how to prevent and/or address it before it reaches the point of vicarious trauma. Additionally we learned strategies for supporting others - be it students, families, or colleagues who may be responding with elevated emotions unexpectedly. The faculty and staff truly appreciated the opportunity to hear, reflect and turn and talk on this very important topic. 


Legislative Report

Education related bills continue to be reviewed in each of the chambers:

  1. House Ways and Means and full House of Representatives passed H536 which sets the yields and nonresidential tax rates to fund FY 2020 school budgets. The bill will be reviewed by the Senate this week.
  2.  House Education Committee continues to work on S40 - lead testing. Based on testimony, there are concerns regarding the cost of remediation and as a result, the House is drafting its own version of the bill, including a slightly higher PPB level (from 3 to 5), a change in the deadline for sampling, and a revised fiscal note based on reports of facilities managers. 
  3. House passed H79, a bill that makes broad changes to the VT Farm to School Program. The changes relate to expanding access to the Farm to School grant to entities other than schools that are associated with assisting and/or administering Farm to School programs.  The Senate is presently hearing testimony on this bill.
  4. Senate passes amended S Data Privacy which will protect student data from being improperly used or sold by organizations that operate education programs created for schools.
  5. Although not directly related to us, the next step in the process for an Act 46 delay is likely to be a formation of a committee of conference, where representatives from the House and Senate will negotiate over a final version of bill H39. It is possible that there will be no agreement between the House and Senate on the Act 46 delay bill.

Awards and Recognitions

Milton High School German program was recognized for several awards in the VT Foreign Language Association Essay Contest 

  • Emma Philbrook was selected as the winning essay in the Novice German category.
  • Dante Thomas was selected as the winner in the Intermediate German category.
  • Thomas Young was selected as the winning essay in the Pre-Advanced German category.
  • Molly Loucy was selected as the winning entry in the Advanced German category.

These students along with their teacher Frau Letsos will be invited to attend an awards reception at the Vermont State House in the spring.  


The Milton Town School District was also recognized by the Vermont Department of Health for the Governors Excellence in Worksite Wellness - Gold Level. This is a result of the work of our Wellness / Path Committee who have promoted many activities for personal wellness in the worksite, including, Random Acts of Kindness, Wellness Recipe Swaps, and Mindfulness.


Board Committees / Charges 

Board Committee meetings will be held the second meeting of the month. Business at those meetings will be brief and the remainder of the time will be reserved for committee business.


To begin, two committees will conduct business on a monthly basis. The committees and their charges are listed below.

  1. Policy Committee: To review and revise all MTSD policies to ensure that they reflect best practices, and are aligned with all Federal and State legal requirements (VSBA - model policies) in order to guide the Superintendent in successfully carrying out the mission and vision of the District. 

Policy Audit Process - Required Policies

  • 3 packets with 7 +/- policies each to include model policy and current policy
  • MTSD Leadership will review model policies and compare with current policy and make any recommendations to adjust for context.
  • Packets will be shared in advance and the Board will review prior to the meeting warned as a first reading
    • Packet 1 - April
    • Packet 2 - June
    • Packet 3 - July
  • Questions addressed, adjustments as required
  • Present packet (second reading) for final approval
    • Packet 1 - May
    • Packet 2 - July
    • Packet 3 - August
  • As soon as packets are approved, we will change the coding to match the VSBA and warn for Adoption of all 3 packets in September
  • MTSD Leadership will develop procedures and involve other stakeholders as relevant

  1. Finance / Facilities Committee: To review the internal financial controls in order to assure there is focused and responsible management of resources and that the annual budget accurately reflects the district’s goals in improving student achievement as outlined in the Continuous Improvement Plan and is responsive to community needs. Additionally, the committee will monitor the Herrick Avenue building project.

Internal Controls Process

  • Review policy, procedures, and documents related to internal controls
  • Discuss strengths and challenges of existing internal controls with administration to gain a deeper understanding.
  • Identify areas for improvement and make recommendations. 
  • Review process for developing the annual budget and identify areas for improvement and make recommendations.

Herrick Avenue Project Process

  • Review updates from administration
  • Take action on all items required by MTSD policies


Lice Procedures

We have updated our Lice Procedures to be in compliance with the recommendations from the Vermont Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control. In order to communicate the new procedures:

  • Principals and nurses will share the new procedures with their faculty/staff
  • A letter, along with the new procedures and the Lice 101 informational sheet will be sent home at the end of this week

Website Redesign

The website redesign continues to be a work in progress. The structure of the new site is almost finalized. Reviewing old content and collecting new content continues to be struggle. Foremost, old content is scattered about in the various MTSD domain files - both in our own server and in the cloud. After identifying document needs, a search is conducted and the document is reviewed for accuracy and alignment. Additionally, those who are charged with collecting content are doing so as an add on to their role and responsibilities as we do not have a website manager. We are hoping to go live in early April - a month out from our original date. I prefer to delay the launch and ensure that our live site is almost fully populated versus having a new site with ‘under construction’ posts.

Pre-K Program Options and Application Process

As you know, the MTSD has Pre-K options for 3 and 4 year old children. Below is a description of our programs.

3 Years Old by September 1st, 2019

Program Option

How to Apply

  • Act 166 - 10 hours per week in community-based partner site.  Ongoing enrollment.



  • School-Based - 12 hours per week - ½ Day X 4 mornings per week.  28 slots available for 2019/2020 school year.  

1. Find a prequalified community-based partner site.


2.Register your child with the school district online at www.mtsd-vt.org (go to departments > registrar) or call the district registrar at 893-5302.


3. Enter placement lottery online between March 7th and March 21st.  28 names drawn at random. Those not selected will go on waiting list and are encouraged to consider Act 166. 


4 Years Old by September 1st, 2019

Program Option

How to Apply

  • Act 166 - 10 hours per week in community-based partner site




  • School-Based - 12 hours per week - ½ Day X 4 afternoons per week.  2019/2020 slots currently filled with returning students.



  • School-Based - full day, full week.  30 total slots - 10 are Head Start.

1. Find a prequalified community-based partner site.


2.Register your child with the school district online at www.mtsd-vt.org (go to departments > registrar) or call the district registrar at 893-5302.


3.Enter waitlist lottery online between March 7th and March 21st.  Names will be drawn at random and placed on the waiting list in that order.  Please also consider accessing Act 166.


4.Call 893-5589 to request a Family Needs Assessment.  Criteria considered includes income level, family size, need for care and other service needs.  Notification will occur in April. Families are also encouraged to enter the school-based waiting list lottery and explore Act 166 options.


The application process has been changed this year from a first come first serve process to a lottery system. There are several reasons for this change.

  1. The lottery system aligns with the recommended practice of the State and thus other school districts locally.
  2. The lottery system practice allows us to screen a greater number of children; we will screen all who enter the lottery 
  3. A lottery systems improves our commitment to Child Find. By the very nature of the system, more families enter the system giving us access to a detail of information that we would not receive via the first come first serve.
  4. The lottery system will be operated via a notarized randomization protocol at the district level.

In addition, the School-based Pre-K has changed the  MTSD Family Needs Assessment.  This assessment is used to prioritize student enrollment. The new assessment aligns with the Head Start program and considers additional criteria and not just income - although it is a weighted structure with income carrying the most weight. 


Early Release - March

The need for the early release day is to provide all faculty and staff with important information and follow up training that was recently released from the VT Agency of Education related to Act 173. 


Act 173 

In 2016, the General Assembly directed the Agency of Education to contract for two studies. One was to evaluate the current special education funding and recommend a model that would stimulate innovative practices. The second study examined the delivery of services for students needing support. This study included 11 Vermont Schools. Milton was one of these schools. If you are interested in reading the Milton results, it is linked HERE.  


The results were presented to the legislature. In the spring of 2018, the Vermont legislature passed Act 173 - an act relating to enhancing the effectiveness, availability, and equity of services provided to students who require additional support. An overview of the Act 173 can be reviewed HERE


The VT Agency of Education (VT AOE) has recently begun to provide professional development and technical support to schools across the State. In January and February, they hosted workshops for both elementary and secondary schools related to how to best schedule the school day to maximize learning for students needing support. 


In the elementary and middle school, spring is the time that teacher leaders and principals begin reviewing the master schedule and make changes to better serve students in the next school year. We would like to have the teachers and administrators who attended the VT AOE training to present relevant information to their colleagues, inclusive of an opportunity to think about grade level schedules and how to better structure their day to increase student access to learning. If we have to wait until August to share this information, then we are looking to the 2020/21 school year before we can make any changes. 


In the high school, scheduling is a different beast and many factors, including graduation requirements play a role in the master schedule. Changes to the master schedule need consideration late in the fall or early winter at the latest. However, the opportunity to begin thinking the impact of scheduling on student learning and how small tweaks especially in terms of opportunities for acceleration blocks is time well spent now. 


The March 22nd early release was not planned because we had no way of knowing a year ago the direction of Act 173 or what supports the AOE would provide toward this endeavor. As we know, there is no alignment between when schools make decisions for professional learning and implementation, when the legislature passes education related law, and when the VT Agency of Education is able to provide direction to schools.

Policy Audit Process - Required Policies

  • 3 packets with 7 +/- policies each to include model policy and current policy
  • MTSD Leadership will review model policies and compare with current policy and make any recommendations to adjust for context.
  • Packets will be shared in advance and the Board will review prior to the meeting warned as a first reading
    • Packet 1 - April
    • Packet 2 - June
    • Packet 3 - July
  • Questions addressed, adjustments as required
  • Present packet (second reading) for final approval
    • Packet 1 - May
    • Packet 2 - July
    • Packet 3 - August
  • As soon as packets are approved, we will change the coding to match the VSBA and warn for Adoption of all 3 packets in September
  • MTSD Leadership will develop procedures and involve other stakeholders as relevant

Committee Structure Options

Typically boards have anywhere from 3-6 committees. The purpose of the committee structure is to divvy the work and allow a small working group time to become well versed in a given area so that the Board can efficiently and effectively carry out their roles and responsibilities. Committee responsibilities, may include:

  • Gathering information to share with the full board,
  • Task development and follow through, and/or
  • Making recommendations to the full Board for a vote.

In thinking about the size of our Board, 5 individuals, compared to the average size of other boards - 12-24, it is challenging to form multiple committees and then find the time necessary to productively carry out board business. In order to make better use of all of our time and to achieve the best possible outcomes as a board, there are several options we could pursue:

  1. Continue to meet 2X a month and allot 1 hour of each meeting to Board work - either prior to the regular start time or after the regular business portion of the meeting has concluded
  2. Meet 3X a month and allot 1 meeting solely to committee work
  3. Continue to meet 2X a month and allot 1 meeting to regular business and 1 to committee work with the understanding that the meeting for regular business would be longer than usual.

In any of these scenarios, we could work as 1 committee or divide into 2 committees. Committees would operate as long as necessary to do the work that is most relevant at the time.



PreK-5 Principal Hire

We had four excellent candidates. After a lengthy deliberation of strengths and challenges of the candidates along with a discussion as to whether or not to move two candidates to a visitation round, we made a decision to move forward, Casey Provost, our interim PreK-2 principal. Casey has verbally accepted and we are preparing a letter of intent. We will issue a formal contract at the same time we issue the other Administrative contracts - April 2, 2019

Welcome Secretary of Education, Dan French

Dan is career educator - teacher, principal and superintendent. He served as the Executive Director for the Vermont Superintendents Association and most recently was the Coordinator of School Leadership program at Saint Michael’s College. He was also a District consult on a wide variety of topics including ACT 46, Board Development, Organizational Change and Superintendent Searches. 


Policy Audit Update 

Sue Ceglowski from the School Boards Association will attend our January 27, 2019 meeting to share the results from our policy audit.


Vision Update

I met with Helen Beattie from Up For Learning. She and her team will partner with Lynne Manley, Director of Curriculum/Technology to lead the MTSD Visioning Process. Helen’s expertise and passion is harnessing the power of youth and adult teams to bring school change. Lynne will organize a group of approximately 16 people (8 youth and 8 adults) to be trained as facilitators by Helen and her team. This group will collectively identify the strategies and tools they want to use to collect input from our stakeholders. Helen will then support them in the data analysis process. Her team will take responsibility for synthesizing the results into a final report. I will also work with Lynne on enlisting other members of the community to support with any related event organization, and Jamie will take the lead on communication. The behind the scenes planning will be starting soon with the thought that we would be ready for data collection (stakeholder input) in March; analysis in April; synthesis in May; and a final presentation of the results in early June. A Memorandum of Understanding and contract for services will come before the Board in the next couple of meetings.


Below is a graphic we will use to think about this work. 


Special Education Compliance

On December 3rd, we received a letter from the Agency of Education congratulating us on our compliance for implementing the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Of particular note, we exceed the required percentage rate for graduation and dropout for students with disabilities..


Life Changer Award

Steve Marinelli, the Milton School District’s Director of Food Services, has been nominated as a 2018-2019 LifeChanger of the Year. The LifeChanger of the Year. This long standing prestigious award is sponsored by National Life and comes with 17 cash prizes of varying amounts to be shared between the recipient and the school.  This award seeks to recognize educators who truly make a difference in the lives of children.

It is not surprising that Steve has been nominated. Foremost, he has created an outstanding Food Services program, inclusive of high quality prepared foods, farm to table community partnerships, educational programming that ranges from locally grown food sources, nutrition and taking care of the environment via recycling. He also supports our most vulnerable learners. He works with program specialists and gives students a space to practice life skills and be active members of their community. He supports students’ interest in cooking through the Iron Chef program. Most importantly though, he ensures food security by providing students access to meals year round. His approach is sensitive and welcoming. Our students thrive because of him. They adore him.

Next Gen Personal Finance Recognition

Milton High School has been awarded the Gold Standard in personal finance. It is one of only twelve schools in Vermont that requires personal finance for graduation offering two course options - Personal Finance and Math for Life. 




Juling

Juling or the use of Electronic Vapor Products (EVP) continues to be a national youth health crisis. These easily concealed devices pack a flavorful, high dosage nicotine punch is widely used by adolescents. Secretary of Education, Dan French issued recommendations for schools across Vermont, inclusive of reviewing and updating associated policies; staff, student and community education, and guidelines for handling EVP products.


In December, MHS hosted Gail Finkelstein from Northern New England Poison Control. She conducted two informational presentations for all students grades 9-12. The presentations were followed by a discussion in student Teacher Advisory groups. It is apparent that there continues to be a sea of misinformation among youth related to the both the addictive nature of EVPs along with the other health side effects associated with regular use.


Next steps include reviewing curriculum resources and perhaps having the Milton Independent run a follow up story to promote public awareness.


UDL - Universal Design for Learning

UDL is a nationally recognized, research-based approach to designing both high quality instruction and a flexible learning environment to accommodate individual learning differences. Lynne has secured an instructor to provide training via coursework for Milton teachers. Thirteen teachers have registered and this opportunity aligns directly with our CIP Student Achievement Goal - implement research based instructional strategies, provide high quality Tier I instruction and access to Tier II supports. The cost to the district is $5,500. Teachers wishing to earn 3 graduate credits will pay an additional fee using their allotted professional development funds.   



Legislative Update

I had the opportunity to meet our Milton Representative, Chris Mattos this morning. He is serving on the House Education Committee and we had a wonderfully robust conversation about the various bills the House is working on. We both look forward to staying connected and supporting each others’ work.


H.3 proposes the creation of an Ethnic and Social Equity Standards Advisory Working Group to advise the State Board of Education on the adoption of ethnic and social equity standards into statewide educational standards. The bill would also require the State Board of Education to publish (to the extent consistent with State and federal privacy laws and regulations) data on student performance and hazing, harassment or bullying incidents disaggregated by student groups, including ethnic and racial groups, poverty status, disability status, English language learner status and gender.  H.3 requires the State Board of Education to consider adopting ethnic and social equity studies standards into standards for student performance on or before June 30, 2022, taking into account the report submitted by the Working Group. 


The Senate Education Committee has spent much of its first two weeks taking testimony on S. 40, a bill relating to the testing and remediation of lead in the drinking water of schools and child care facilities. The bill includes required school actions if lead contamination. The committee is now considering implementation for the mandatory testing, including how costs will be incurred. 


S.10 contains changes to Act 166 pre-K funding and administration, including transferring the administration of the pre-K program from school districts to the Agency of Education. Under S.10, the Agency of Human Services would continue to license and oversee private providers, but the Agency of Education would pay tuition at a statewide rate for 10 hours per week of pre-K services. School districts would only be able to count prekindergarten students as part of their ADM if the students reside in the district and attend a program operated by the district. The bill requires school districts to include identifiable costs for prekindergarten programs and essential early education services in annual budgets and reports to the community. 


S.9 proposes to extend the requirement for conducting criminal and child abuse background checks to an operator of a home study program and to any person who will have ongoing contact with students in a home study program. S.9 provides that superintendents shall conduct the required background checks. 




New Bills

  • Between the house and senate there are 6+ bills related to Act 46
  • H.60 proposes to eliminate dual oversight of PreK
  • S.21 – proposes to establish the Public Employee Health Benefit Plan which would provide health insurance coverage for all State employees, municipal employees, legislators, teachers, and other eligible public employees. 
  • S.52 – proposes to create an education property tax system where the amount of tax due is adjusted by income for all taxpayers.