School Board looks at new hires, playground issues

By Gail Callahan
As the year winds down, the Shelburne Community School (SCS) Board is keeping an eye on the upcoming academic year by looking at rising enrollment and studying the request to hire new personnel to educate the town’s young learners.
SCS Co-Principal Allan Miller told Board members about staff members who were honored at a dinner, dubbed AW SHUCKS!, held at Champlain Valley Union High School. In the next breath, Miller’s colleague, Pati Beaumont, informed school directors about burgeoning kindergarten enrollment. As of the middle of last week, that figure stands at 85 incoming pupils, Miller said. That number prompted Beaumont to ask Board members to approve the hire of another kindergarten teacher. That request did win approval.
Later in the evening, Beaumont also updated the panel on other new hires at the school and explained that new personnel was sought for a Triple E post—director of student services and literacy coordinator. It’s hoped that it will be an internal hire for one of the jobs, which in turn, would create a vacancy of the person’s job at SCS. Administrators reasoned that if the successful literacy coordinator came from within, SCS’ ranks, then familiarity with staff and students would exist. At the same time, the Board voted to increase the literacy coordinator’s position to full-time. Calling it “budget neutral,” for the upcoming school year, funds would be allocated from the SCS’ Medicaid fund.
Meanwhile, School Board Chairman Russ Caffry introduced a measure which ultimately won full approval from school directors—to grant approval for administrators to offer positions of employment to candidates without the needs to discuss the matter before the full Board.”We want to move quickly and get these positions squared away,” Caffry said.
At the same time, the Board heard that class size for next year’s second grade stands at 23 students per classroom, while sixth grade’s enrollment is projected to be 25/26 per room. “We knew this was coming,” said Miller. “It’s very doable.” Caffry, agreed, noting the numbers are fluid, especially in the wake of summer when families can move into and out of town. “Of course, this is where we stand today,” Caffry said. He noted that he spoke with a town official, who pointed out new housing projects were springing up in town, and it’s likely families with school-age children could move into those homes, swelling enrollment at the building.
After welcoming news about the PTO, the Board discussed a proposed playground project that carries a $100,000 price tag. At the same time, a search for donations for a $2.6 million dollar proposal for fields at CVU is also underway. Caffry and other Board members worried about so-called “fundraising fatigue” in the communities. School directors appear confident that the school’s PTO would help in some manner. Also, school officials feel that the structure would hold up through the summer and the next academic year, but after that, an upgrade would be needed. Board members pointed out that the equipment sees heavy usage during summer and fall, especially during weekends when athletic teams are competing. The Board indicated it would continue to discuss the matter during its remaining meetings.
Administrators also updated the Board on PTO grants and the successful completion of an internship program that saw six University of Vermont and two Champlain College students work at the Community School.

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