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.