CVU has community support and above national average success

by Lin Stone

The Champlain Valley Union High School Board’s meeting of April 12 was opened with a request from Town Selectboard Chair Jonathan Trefry for CVU to contribute to the town’s annual public safety funds. Trefry reported an advisory committee had recommended that as CVU is the town’s largest employer and has need for more than occasional use of Hinesburg’s public safety departments (police, fire, rescue), the town asked the CVUHS board to include a line item in its next budget to share some of the costs. He added that this was in keeping with other towns, which do get public safety funds from Union Schools. The proposal will be put on a future CVUHS board agenda.

Several CVU students and Spanish teachers Seth Jensen and Meredith Visco reported on a recent class trip to the Dominican Republic. The students spent two weeks on a coffee plantation in the hills outside of the city living in simple cabins without electricity or hot water for showers. The students held a clothing and school supply drive – and carried 15 extra bags of 50 pounds each plus more than 200 books to the village. Students helped to teach in the local school as community service and a cultural exchange. One of the students commented that although they thought the material things they brought would be “the big thing,” what they discovered is that the trip was not about things at all: “What we left with and what we came back with was big – but it wasn’t the things.”

Principal Sean McMannon reported that Adam Bunting will be leaving CVU to accept a position as high school principal in Montpelier. McMannon and the Board noted that Bunting’s departure was a “tremendous loss for CVU, as he held the community spirit and the culture of CVU.”

Board member Jonathan Milne reported on the budget survey results from town meeting and voting day. He cited that the majority “think that CVU is doing a good job,” and that most felt the budget was in line and the majority did not favor lowering costs by decreasing services with lower enrollment. The closest consideration favored was class size. School choice was strongly favored. There also seemed to be a lack of support for a turf field and there was an affirmation for travel opportunities and cultural exchange as part of the curriculum.

Principal McMannon presented a Challenging Standards Executive Summary to the Board. The extensive report compared the results of a variety of standardized assessments – PLAN, PSAT, ACT, SAT and ACT – in terms of Expectations of Student Learning (ESL) in the content areas of writing, reading, mathematics, and science. CVU students’ mean scores outperform the national averages in the following areas and assessments: on the PLAN, a pre-ACT measurement of college readiness; on the PSAT, SAT and ACT in reading, writing, and mathematics; science scores on the PLAN, ACT, and SAT biology; the NECAP science assessment will be taken in May by 11th graders. McMannon also updated the board regarding its movement to include the standards-based portfolio, as well as grades, as measurement of student learning outcomes and indicators of success. The Portfolio measures three major areas, Transferable Skills (ESL’s 1-7: effective communicator, critical thinker, strategic readers, active learners, and intentional goal setters); Academic Outcomes (content based math-literacy, global literacy, science literacy, art literacy); and Civic and Social Outcomes (healthy and engaged citizens, safe and contributing members of community, self-aware and expressive individuals). Additionally, 66 percent of CVU’s 2011 graduating students report planning to attend a four-year college and an additional 2 percent plan to attend a two-year program.

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