Superintendent: WCSU is staffed up for 2014-15 school year

TOWNSHEND — Nearly all staff required to open school for the year are on contract. That's according to Dr. Steven B. John, Windham Central Supervisory Union superintendent, writing in his report for July.

He said a few part-time openings were still open, including driver's education and elementary physical education and music.

John's report details a variety of other items of interest to the community, including the success of summer camps, his takeaway on a recent education leadership institute conference, a ceremony to honor our two Vermont elementary school principals of the year, changes for teacher licensing, investments in professional development, and how the district can get a handle on policy duplication.

Anton, FitzSimons honored as state's best

John reported that Dover Elementary Principal William Anton and Wardsboro Elementary Principal Rosemary FitzSimons received honors from the Vermont Principals' Association.

Fitzsimons was named Vermont's elementary Principal of the Year, while Anton was the winner of the National Distinguished Principal Award.

A recognition banquet is set for Killington Mountain Resort on Aug. 5. John encourages the school community to cheer on these winners, and says he can help organize carpools.

Summer enrollments exceed expectations

John wrote in his report that student enrollments for summer programs in the WCSU are exceeding expectations.

Those programs include Explorers Camp for grades 1-6 at Jamaica, Summer Educational Enrichment Camp (SEEK) at Leland & Gray for grades 7-8, and Dover's Summer School and Camp, for four, three, and five weeks respectively, ending on or before Aug. 1.

Dover, Jamaica, and Leland & Gray provide free breakfast and lunch for all campers. Planning and logistical support are provided by WCSU 21C Grant Coordinator Thara Fuller.

John noted the camps focus on hands-on learning and outdoor activities.

Educaton Leaders Institute said to be provocative

John reported that four members of his administrative team attended the Education Leaders Institute at Dartmouth this June. Anton, Dorinne Dorfman, Laura Hazard, and Matt Martyn joined him for what he said was “an exceptional series of lectures and discussion” led by the faculty of the Tuck Graduate School of Business.

He said that while specific content and ideas generated from the sessions would be shared with all schools and boards beginning this summer and fall, perhaps the most provocative and pertinent was Matthew Slaughter's linking the globalization of the economy to the imperative for improved public education in the United States.

Teacher licensing requirements revised

Requirements for teachers to renew their licenses are changed in response to lobbying from the VEA/NEA and the education committees of the House and Senate, John reported.

• Renewal is now required every five years for a level II professional license.

• Independent Professional Learning Plans are no longer required, but the Local Standards Board will still verify the professional learning credits earned by each teacher.

• For all teachers and administrators in the WCSU the electronic approval system for approval and reimbursement will support these requirements and provide a professional portfolio for them through My Learning Plan.

• This database also tracks total investments by the boards in professional development. The WCEA/WCSU Master Agreement calls for a cap of $46,000 combined for all teachers covered by the agreement. For fiscal year 2014, the cap was $44,000, and the actual reimbursements approached $42,000 to date.

“We will not exceed the cap,” John said in his report. He added, “This capped amount does not include nor limit our support for administratively directed in-service and professional learning.”

• Workshops and courses to improve instruction in mathematics and English language arts are funded principally by consolidated federal grants, he said.

Policy overload?

Across the WCSU, policy review, warning, adoption, and posting online “continues to consume an enormous amount of time. The duplicated effort is hard to justify, especially for the majority of policies that are mandated,” standing at 29, John said.

As these require consistent implementation across state school districts, John said he recommends that the WCSU Board direct the WCSU Policy Committee “to consider preliminary approval to all policies except those pertaining to local school conditions, traditions, and grades 7-12.”

He cited as examples of unique policies those pertaining to field trips, community use of facilities, and inter-scholastic sports.

“Any policy given approval by the WCSU Policy Committee would be included in the consent agenda of each school district board for their next meeting,” he said.

John also noted that “Bud” DeBonis is on board as WCSU's chief finance officer. He and his team are working on closing FY14 accounts and opening those for FY15.

In related news, auditors from Sullivan and Powers will be at the superintendent's office for the weeks of Sept. 22 and Oct. 6 to audit the accounts of WCSU, Jamaica, Leland &Gray UHSD #34, Marlboro, NewBrook, Townshend, Wardsboro, and Windham.

This annual professional audit continues to be required by law for all Vermont school districts regardless of size.

John also said the WCSU board summer retreat is set for Wednesday, Sept. 24, at 5 p.m., location to be determined.

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