By Gail Callahan
During a Shelburne Community School Board meeting that ran just under 90 minutes, school directors heard from administration how the academic year was progressing while starting the path to budget season that will culminate with voters deciding the fate of a new spending plan during March Town Meeting.
Shelburne Community School Board Chairman Russ Caffry started the meeting, welcoming those in attendance and noting a slight change to the agenda. The shift centered on the removal of a policy which School Board members were slated to consider at the Oct. 10 meeting. Because the Chittenden South Supervisory Union Board declined to act on the measure, Shelburne school directors decided not to vote on the document now, but will consider it in the future. Caffry also noted the meeting drew no audience participants, contrasting the turnout with last month’s gathering when dozens of fourth grade parents attended a meeting that was, at times, contentious. Fourth-grade enrollment is expected to hit 81 students.
As the meeting shifted to the portion when co-principals Allan Miller and Pati Beaumont report to the Board about events at the school, Miller gave a brief description of how things are progressing with the science portion of the NECAPS. NECAPS are state-standardized tests administered to Vermont elementary, middle, and high school students in the fall. They measure academic progress in various subjects, including math, reading, and science. “We have things to celebrate,” Miller told Board members.
Miller noted that Shelburne’s test scores continue to improve and show increasing proficiency. The Board also heard that during the 2014 school year, there will be no fall NECAP testing, but the exams will be administered in the spring.
Miller also informed Board members he will represent the Shelburne Community School on Oct. 17 at an educational gathering, honoring outstanding teachers. Miller also informed Board members about the school’s on-going efforts to combat bullying. Miller said Shelburne has a “Zero Tolerance” policy on the issue.
Additionally, Miller brought up the school’s move toward ensuring that the social studies curriculum is “OK.” He noted that there’s a lot of discussion swirling around math, science, and reading, but Shelburne administrators want to make sure that social studies classes are also on track. He went on to note that middle school teachers are participating in a book club and are finding the materials very instructive. The work is a “light, 10-chapter read,” according to Miller.
At that point, Co-principal Pati Beaumont told Board members all of the school’s gardens were harvested. She also spoke about the success of a recent Fire Prevention Day. Then, members of the Shelburne Fire Dept. came to the school and also helped with the year’s first fire drill. Subsequently, Shelburne’s had two practice drills, so far, Beaumont said.
Beaumont also thanked everyone who participated in Walking Wednesdays. The event encourages people to walk to school or work.
The Board also received updates from a team that tracks how well a school is performing academically, particularly on standardized tests. The group will track which schools preform at a superior level and how they achieve their academic success. “At the end of the day, we’ll be a better school,” said Miller.
As the meeting stretched on, Caffry gave an outline of the upcoming budget process. He said the proposed spending plan will be warned in January. He also pointed out that the School Board plays no role in determining Shelburne’s tax rate. Traditionally, the School and Town budgets are presented the night before daylong Australian balloting at March Town Meeting.