Shelburne School Directors chart academic course

By Gail Callahan

During the roughly 90 minutes the Shelburne Community School Board met last week, directors charted a new course for school personnel, heard about Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) fundraising and discussed how a new academic scheme will be implemented over the next two years.

The meeting kicked off with a Board announcement that Patricia Beaumont, who formerly worked as principal at Rutland Town School, will take the helm from Allegra Miller as SCS’s co-principal. Board Chairman Russ Caffry called the process of selecting a new administrator “rigorous,” and praised the search committee for its work.

As the conversation turned, Allegra Miller told Board members about SCS PTO’s successful fundraising capabilities. The organization discovered that some teachers had needs in their classroom and the PTO directed money to the educators.

Also, Allegra Miller told the Board that next year’s kindergarten enrollment stands at about 63 students, down slightly from this year’s 75. She also pointed out that kindergarten isn’t mandatory in the State of Vermont.

However, Board member Tim Williams wondered if those kindergarten, if not all-school enrollment figures might swell, citing increased new home construction in his neighborhood.”I feel we could get a surprise,” he said.

Co-principal Allan Miller told Board members that a group of SCS middle schoolers journeyed to Rochester to deliver $1,000 worth of books to the school, which was ravaged by Tropical Storm Irene. “The students feel jazzed up and that they made a difference,” he said.

The meeting then shifted to personnel matters. The Board was told that Tim Buckingham, who currently teaches band and music at Edmunds Middle School, will teach the same subjects in Shelburne next year.

Buckingham made the announcement last week to his students and families.

The Burlington school’s PTO newsletter also carried the announcement.

Then, Allegra Miller informed the Board that by 2013-14, all of the school’s first- and second- grade teams will follow looping. Allegra Miller, however, noted that teachers who taught on teams expressed concern about the change. “I think change is very hard for some people and it’s sad, but it brings us together as a K-5 grade school.”

Allegra Miller also said other CSSU schools also have adopted looping.

After hearing about looping, the Board considered and then approved a job sharing request from Diane Hansen and Lynda Maitland, both of whom teach on Team Kaleidoscope.  At the same time, the Board rejected a one-year leave of absence by special educator Cathi Wiest. The CSSU administration didn’t endorse the request. Caffry also voiced concern about the proposal, noting it seemed “like a one-year dry run at retirement and then decide to come back or not.”

Echoing others’ concerns, Allegra Miller said Wiest’s position is difficult to fill and she works with the school’s “most fragile students.”

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