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July 1999

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Subject:
From:
Wavel Cowen <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Moretown Educational <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Fri, 23 Jul 1999 15:27:23 +0000
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Following are draft school board reports for the next issue of Moretown
Matters.  Please send edits in CAPS.  Not hearing from you means
approval.  Thanks ..... Wavell

Special Education Initiative Pays Off
The report, Moretown Dilemma, prepared by the Moretown School Board,
effectively highlighted the exceptional special education costs being
forecast for the school over the next half dozen years.  It proved
highly persuasive.  Carefully circulated about the legislature by
representative, Alan Weiss, it resulted in a bill sponsored by Senator
Jeb Spaulding, passed by the legislature and signed into law by the
governor.  It made $2.3 million available as discretionary spending by
the Commissioner of Education to address “exceptional” special education
costs within Vermont school districts.  The Moretown school board will
now work to ensure that Moretown receives its fair share of these
funds.  It is hoped that this successful effort will reduce
significantly the upward pressure on the school budget and tax rate
which would otherwise have been inevitable.

Commissioner of Education Rules in Favor of Moretown Board Position
The Harwood Board acted improperly by changing the method of assessing
towns for the Harwood budget  without putting the question to a public
vote.  This contention of the Moretown Board (reported in the May issue
of Moretown Matters) was validated by a June ruling from the
Commissioner of Education. The Moretown Board is now requesting that the
Harwood Board resubmit corrected assessments to all supporting towns,
for the past two years, making interest and penalty payments as
appropriate.  Further, it appears that changes in the method of ADM
calculation introduced by the Harwood Board in the early 90s and perhaps
even earlier, need to be investigated in respect to improper town
assessments over a much longer period.

Harwood Governance a Hot Issue
When the town voters agreed to allow member districts to withdraw middle
school students from Harwood Union High School in order to allow Duxbury
and Waterbury to build a new middle school (Crosset Brook) and establish
a new K-8 school district, they were not asked to consider the
consequences.  The result is that Waterbury and Duxbury maintain a
dominant board position over all affairs at Harwood, including the
middle school, even though they have no middle school students at
Harwood.  Further, a significant impetus to the assessment changes
improperly made by the Harwood Board was to relieve Waterbury and
Duxbury of a perceived inappropriate middle school burden.
It is now very clear that both the Harwood Union High School assessment
issue and governance issue need to be properly addressed and resolved.
One proposal is for the four Valley districts to establish a separate
school board to look after Harwood Middle School.  The Moretown Board
feels that such a solution would be an unsuitable half-way house and are
on record as favoring the reconstitution of a Harwood School Board for
the entire school as a responsibility of the existing four valley K-6
district school boards, plus the Waterbury/Duxbury K-8 district school
board, working cooperatively.

Action Planning
The Moretown School Board has approved the Action Plan Report submitted
by the joint community-school action planning committee.  This report
includes a preamble, a plan developed by the school group chaired by the
principal, Roberta Barone, and including teachers, Pam Dow (1/2), Brenda
Hartshorn (1/2), Jeff Isham (3/4), and Tom McAllister (4/5), and a plan
prepared by the community group chaired by board member, Wavell Cowan,
and including Kim Allshouse (social worker), Diana Costello (Spring Hill
teacher), Carol Dean (business owner), Sheila Getzinger (lawyer), Kent
Holden (board member, business owner), John Schmeltzer (state
hydrologist), and Lise Wexler (business owner).   This report has been
submitted to the Department of Education in fulfillment of Act 60
requirements.  Arrangements can be made with the school to obtain a copy
of this report.
Concrete school proposals for the Mathematics and English Arts programs
are designed to improve test scores in the weakest areas as revealed by
the state standards assessment results; viz. writing conventions and
effectiveness, and mathematical concepts and problem solving.  Of
particular interest was the proposal to establish a community group to
regularly receive student writing from all grades, and to select the
best for publication in a monthly school literary journal.  It is
anticipated that some of these will ultimately be printed in a “writers
corner” of Moretown Matters.
The community report proposed the creation of a school-community
directory providing information about community members  available for
in-school activities to enhance quality education.  This will include a
variety of activities; i.e. clerical task substitution allowing teachers
to increase the time dedicated to quality improvement; in-class support
in primary grades providing individualized attention in improving
reading and math skills; in-class presentations supporting social study
units (geographical via travel experiences, areas related to
professional or work experiences, historical via specialized interest
and knowledge); and support by technical and scientific people to help
enhance the quality of science instruction.
A community group will accept not only the responsibility to develop the
directory, but to oversee and institutionalize the manner in which
actual community involvement in the school can be initiated and enhanced
without requiring anything more than essential teacher involvement.
That is, the process of community involvement must be sufficiently
unburdensome and worthwhile to teachers that requests for services will
develop and continue to be received.

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