Washington Central Story

WCUUSD Community Newsletter - March 10, 2023


Although there is still snow on the ground and the weather is winter-y in Vermont for several more weeks, March always signals a shift to the Spring and Summer. It never quite warms up as quickly as I'd like, but I do appreciate the slowly increasing daylight time!

Today, I want to express my gratitude to our communities for their support of our WCUUSD school budget. Thanks to all of you who took time to vote, to ask others to vote and perhaps shared some stories about your experiences with our schools. We are so fortunate to live in communities that value our work as educators, and who are ready and willing to work with us as we begin to define what education should be for our children moving forward. I am grateful to be part of this community!

We have much to share this month - especially about our Strategic Planning Process. I am looking forward to deeply engaging with our communities over the next several months to design a vision and strategic plan for our schools moving forward. Check out the update below with a preview of things to come. And, as always, we have some celebrations as well. Happy (early) Spring!

- Meagan Roy, Superintendent

In this issue...

  1. Some information about Strategic Planning
  2. Safe and Healthy Schools: An update from our District Safety Team
  3. Academic Achievement: Winter assessment information
  4. Humanity & Justice: Student-led review of the Raiders mascot
  5. Some important celebrations and recognitions
  6. Upcoming Board meeting information

Strategic Planning - Overview & Timeline

I'm excited to share some information with you about our upcoming Strategic Planning process. Over the past several months we have been working to select a facilitator for the important work of engaging our communities about our hopes, dreams and goals for the district. With an emphasis on equity and engagement, the Strategic Planning process will foster unity as a district, develop a common understanding of what all students should experience in our educational system, and give us the information we need to respond to our future educational landscape.

Last month, our Board officially engaged the Great Schools Partnership, a New England-based organization who works directly with schools on a number of education planning endeavors - including strategic planning. We have been working with our coaching team to begin our work together.

Because it is especially important to us that this process center community voices (especially those voices we don't always hear from), we will be very thoughtful about the design of the process itself. To facilitate this, our first step is to convene a 12-14 member Steering Committee that is representative of our broader communities. The primary goal of the steering committee will be to design and carry out the planning and visioning process. Specifically, they will be responsible for:

  • Designing how best to engage the voices of our communities
  • Facilitating community conversations, focus groups, and workgroups
  • Synthesizing feedback to create a Vision Statement and Core Beliefs, including drafting strategic goals and action steps
  • Communicating progress with the board and community

Members of the steering committee will need to be able to commit to attending 1-2 meetings per month this Spring, with additional meetings in the Summer and Fall. If you are interested in being a part of this process, please see this link for an application. Know that we are looking for a representative group, and so we will not be able to accommodate everyone who wants to be part of the Steering Committee. That said, there will be many opportunities along the way for engagement in this process, in many different ways (from forums to focus groups to surveys).

We will be able to share a more specific timeline as the Steering Committee completes its design work. In the meantime, consider saving April 5th from 6:15-7:15, as our Community Forum (at U-32) will be a kickoff presentation and dialogue about the process and will feature our Great Schools consultant as well as members of the Steering Committee

Washington Central has wonderful schools, serving our students and families with a focus on excellence and equity. We have a unique opportunity to engage deeply with our communities so that we may build on our strengths and serve our communities' children best, now and in the future. I am looking forward to this opportunity and hope you are as well!

Academic Achievement

Statewide Assessment Information

In January we let you know that the Vermont Agency of Education has revised its statewide assessment program for students. The new assessment program is called the Vermont Comprehensive Assessment Program (VTCAP) and includes assessments in literacy, mathematics, and science. As in years past, students in Grades 3-9 will be tested in literacy and math and students in Grades 5, 8, and 11 will be tested in science. These tests are administered via computer.

The Agency of Education is currently rolling out training materials. In the weeks ahead, we will train our staff and will share more information with students and families regarding the assessments. We have decided that we will administer the tests after April vacation so that we have plenty of time to prepare for and communicate about the new assessment. Stay tuned for more information later this spring.

Safe & Healthy Schools

Big picture

Update from the District Safety Team

As I've shared in earlier newsletters, the newly rejuvenated District Safety Team has been working on implementing the recommendations from our school safety assessment conducted just prior to the school year. Our focus areas of Emergency Preparedness, Behavior Threat Assessment and Physical Security have allowed us to look closely at existing practices and make positive changes to improve our safety across all of our schools. Emergency Preparedness has been our biggest focus over the past two months, and our district team has updated and integrated the Emergency Operations Procedures (EOP) documents for our district and individual schools, so that we have more consistent and uniform practices across schools. In addition, this work involves updating and integrating our crisis response guides for each school.

In February we had an opportunity to meet with Montpelier Police Chief Eric Nordenson and Acting Lieutenant Charles Winn from the Vermont State Police, Berlin Barracks to discuss and learn from the experience of Montpelier Schools as they responded to the hoax shooter call. This was an incredibly helpful opportunity to learn, in real time, the lessons of our neighbors in Montpelier. It was also an opportunity to solidify our partnership with our law enforcement partners. Many thanks to Chief Nordenson and Acting Lt. Winn for their time and expertise.

All of this work is critical for the ongoing safety of our students, families and staff. It also poises us very well to be in compliance with potential legislation that is currently being discussed in the Vermont Senate. Among other things, the proposed bill would require schools to implement an options-based response system for school threats. I look forward to sharing more detailed information with families and caregivers, particularly about our 2023-2024 work on an Options-Based Response protocol.

Humanity & Justice

Big picture

Mascot Review

Some of you may be aware that in 2022 Vermont passed a law, Act 152, with the goal of ensuring that all school mascots and imagery are non-discriminatory. In response, our Board passed Policy F2 in December that outlines our district’s commitment to creating a “welcoming, positive, and inclusive learning environment.” The policy also requires that the Superintendent and Administration periodically review our own mascots and branding to ensure that they comply with this new law.

Beginning last Fall, while our Board was developing the policy, we began thinking about a review process for the Raider mascot that would include input from students, staff and community members. We knew that we wanted to center student voice in the process, and have convened a group of U-32 students to help us with the review. It is important to us that we both look at the historical roots of the U-32 mascot and imagery as well as the current perceptions and understandings. We will then consider the implications of what we found historically alongside the impact of continuing the use of our mascot. This will be presented to our Board so that they are able to evaluate the current and past impact of our mascot, both in name and logo, and determine what is best to support all our students to come to a school that is “welcoming, positive and inclusive.”

You may have read this recent article in the VTDigger about school mascots, which included a reference to U-32's mascot in a complaint filed by the Rutland Area NAACP and Gedakina. Those organizations have also communicated with the WCUUSD Board, formally initiating a complaint that our mascot is “upholding harmful legacies that continue to harm students.” The Board has provided a response to the organizations, explaining the work that we are engaged in with respect to our mascot. The Board is awaiting a response from the NAACP and Gedakina. While we are not aware of any use of Indigenous imagery as part of our school mascot, logo or branding material, we are committed to reviewing historical records to make sure that there was none; and, as noted above, we will also consider the contemporary perceptions of the mascot and associated images.

We understand that the issue of mascots can be deeply personal to current and past students, families and community members. Our goal is that, through this process, we can model grace, thoughtfulness, inquiry and openness - and calling in when we have questions rather than calling out. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, our shared commitment to ensuring that all of our students, families and community members are welcomed and affirmed in our schools will be centered. I am glad to be working with our students on this important work and look forward to sharing more information as we complete the review.

WCUUSD In the News!

EMES Custodian Glenn Goodell Nominated as Life Changer of the Year!

The Life Changer of the Year is an annual program sponsored by National Life Group that recognizes and rewards K-12 educators and school employees across the country, celebrating those who are making a significant difference in the lives of students. We are thrilled to share that EMES Custodian Glenn Goodell was nominated by a colleague - here is just one snippet from his nomination: "Glenn makes a point to learn each child's name and works hard to build relationships with all of them through his sense of humor and daily interactions. He notices when a kid is having a hard day and will take the time to check in with them. He truly sees each child and ensures them he is always there for them."

Congratulations, Glenn!

U-32 Boys Hockey - DII State Champions!

Congratulations to the boys hockey team for their double overtime win last night for the championship. Down 3-2 in the third, they tied the game with seconds left and battled through two overtimes.
DII Champs

U-32 Craft Fair!

Please visit U-32 on Sat, April 1st, from 9am-4pm for the U-32 Craft Fair. Over 85 Vermont artists and vendors, silent auction, raffle, East Montpelier Fire Department Touch-A-Truck, visit with a Berlin Police Officer, bake sale, and community partner information tables. This is a fundraiser for the 8th grade trip to Washington DC.

There will be something for the entire family! See the below flier and please share!

Big picture

WCUUSD Regular Board Meeting

Wednesday, March 15th, 6:15pm

930 Gallison Hill Road

Montpelier, VT

Please join us for the next regular Board meeting at U-32 in Rm. 128/131. Our Board will welcome our 2023-24 school board members and will begin with reorganization - with a vote for board officers and committee assignments.

Check out our website for more information and for the link to join virtually: https://www.wcsu32.org/domain/272