Washington Central Story

WCUUSD Community Newsletter - November 10, 2023


I've been thinking about community lately. Spending time over the past month with community members, students and faculty through our strategic planning process has given me a chance to learn and affirm what others have known for some time. The commitment our communities have to our schools, to humanity and justice, to centering students in our decision making - we've known these as our values. But my time has also given me the opportunity to see first hand just how much our community values, well, the community itself. We (our Board, our families, our educators, our students) aspire to deeply engage the people who make up our Washington Central space.

It is more important than ever to lean into this commitment to community. It goes without saying that things are hard right now. Things are hard in the world, in our region and in our local community. Sometimes it is hard to know what to say in the midst of it all. So instead, I want to share an image of a poster that U-32 senior Willow Mashkuri hung in the atrium at U-32. No surprise - it is often best to simply turn to our students and to our communities, for healing (and thank you, Willow, for letting me share this!).

With the chill in the air and the first sloppy weather of the season comes plenty to celebrate, though. November is often the time to ponder what we are grateful for. Today we observe Veteran's Day and express our deep gratitude to those who serve. Also in November we acknowledge and honor Native American Heritage Month. Check out this online exhibition of the Indigenous artist Robert Houle.

Keep reading for news about strategic planning, budgeting and, of course, some school happenings.

- Meagan Roy, Superintendent

In this issue...

  1. Academic Achievement: A reminder to give input about Title I funding and supports
  2. Humanity & Justice: Learn about the origins of our Humanity & Justice Statement
  3. Safe & Healthy Schools: Winter weather reminders!
  4. U-32 Craft Fair is this weekend!
  5. Did you know? November 8th was National First Generation College Student Day!
  6. School happenings
  7. Strategic Planning Update
  8. New website is live!
  9. Upcoming Board meetings

Academic Achievement

Title I Input Opportunity

(From Jen Miller-Aresenault, WCUUSD Director of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment)

Federal Title I funding provides additional instructional supports for eligible schools. Berlin Elementary School, Doty Memorial School, and U-32 Middle and High School are eligible for Title I federal funding during the 2023-2024 school year. The purpose of Title I is “to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close the achievement gaps” (Vermont Agency of Education). Title I funds supplement local funds, and schools are eligible based on poverty rates. The measure that we use in Washington Central is eligibility for free or reduced meals; this is one reason why we encourage families to complete the free or reduced meal application even when we provide universal meals.

In the past, we have provided opportunities for the community to learn about how we use Title I funds during each school's Open House. This year we will host a virtual Title I meeting. We will explain the purpose of the funds and how we use them in Washington Central, and we will welcome your questions and thoughts. The meeting will be facilitated by Jen Miller-Arsenault, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. It will take place on Tuesday, November 14 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. via Google Meet, and a recording will be posted on our website. If you would like to attend the virtual meeting, please complete this RSVP form no later than Monday, November 13 so that we can send you a meeting link.

Humanity & Justice

Equity Scholar's Corner

Each month, we want to share with you some examples of the learning that happens in our district related to Humanity & Justice. Maybe you will decide to try these activities yourself!

What is our Humanity & Justice Statement all about?

Shelley Vermilya, WCUUSD Equity Scholar in Residence

Have you been wondering what this statement is on the WCUUSD website and in every newsletter? At first glance some readers say, "ahhh it is so wordy!"; or, "I just don’t get it."

The authors of this commitment statement are all educators in our district. They were indeed trying to cover many levels of historic and current social and educational issues, compelled to speak of and to all members of our community, and look toward the future. Yes, it is complex—just like nurturing and educating all of our students PreK-12!

U-32 teachers Steve Sheeler and Elizabeth Marks had their 7th and 8th grade social studies classes dive into our guiding statement to find its meaning and crucial points.

Here is the original assignment and the "Mild" version students received. I had to read the instructions a couple of times since I didn’t have the teacher at my elbow!

Grab some markers of many colors and decide why specific lines stand out.

From the assignment: here are some student responses to the statement, “it’s important...”

...that learning is relevant

...to think and ask questions

...our teachers pay attention to student’s (changing) growth and understanding

...we are included and have a sense of belonging

...we try to understand all points of view

Students noted words they didn’t understand like ‘prejudice,’ ‘socioeconomic,’ or that they wanted more focus on mental health and socioeconomics; and they wanted to know how we might actually build more opportunities for students “to thrive rather than merely survive.”

I’m eager to share more with you about what our students are learning about humanity, justice, and how they are thriving across the district.

Safe & Healthy Schools

Snow & Inclement Weather Procedures!

Well, it happened again! Mother Nature beat me to the punch and winter weather has arrived! Here are some reminders for families and caregivers about our inclement weather practices.

First, I usually find it helpful to share my "snow day philosophy" with all of you (until I became a school leader, I didn't know I had one!). There are two things that drive my thinking as it relates to snow days:

  1. Our students benefit from being in school and learning with our amazing faculty and staff, and,
  2. Our students need to be safe

Sometimes it feels as though those two things work in opposition; but together they guide my decision making. You can be assured that I rely on a team of people to understand the current conditions in each of our towns (including the bus company and our road commissioners). Our goal is to make a decision as early as conditions allow us to do so. We use our Emergency Messaging system to push out the notification. And, our closures are communicated to the Vermont Broadcasters system so you can also find them on the various news and radio outlets.

Now is a good opportunity for you to check whether or not your information is up to date in the Infinity Campus Parent Portal! Please contact your child's school if you have questions.

Let it snow...but only on the weekends!

This weekend!!!

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Happenings around the Union...

Strategic Planning Updates

Over the past several weeks, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee has been working to summarize all of the data that came out of our focus groups during the second phase of the planning. This data was gathered from surveys and focus groups and asked individuals to give feedback on our draft Core Beliefs and begin to think about and share input on what goals and action steps the district might take to realize those core beliefs in our schools. As a result, the committee has completed a third revision of the Vision & Core Beliefs (included below), with language that is more accessible, actionable, and concise. We are also in the process of conducting student focus groups at all five of our schools, which will further inform the vision, core beliefs, and goals/action steps..

So far, subgroups have come together to draft goals for Community Engagement and Transparent & Responsible Governance. Workgroups for the remaining core beliefs continue next week, and we will be soliciting feedback on those as well.

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WCUUSD Board Budget Meeting

Wednesday, Nov. 15th, 6:30pm

930 Gallison Hill Road

Montpelier, VT

Please join us as the board receives a first draft of next year’s budget and provide guidance on next steps. There will be a second budget meeting on December 20 to further discuss our budget and take community feedback, and the Board expects to finalize the budget January 17 in order to prepare for a community vote by Town Meeting Day.

As always, you are encouraged to contact any school board member to ask questions and share your thoughts. Our contact information is posted here: Board Members / Board Members (wcsu32.org). We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for supporting our schools.