OSSD Safe and Healthy Schools
Dear OSSD Community,
Winter is upon us in full force. With the challenges that snow and ice bring, we are grateful to our bus drivers and our buildings and grounds crew. They do not get enough recognition for all they do to make it safe to get to school and for keeping our parking lots and pathways clear and safe.
Many things are happing across the district. Math scores are up across all elementary schools. Students are engaging in meaningful science and STEM projects, and the proposed budget for the district is moving forward for community vote. The School Board has voted to move the proposed budget forward for voting on town meeting day. Superintendent Layne Millington will lead a series of Open Forums to listen to community thoughts on the budget and respond to questions. More details on dates and times are below.
February is Black History Month. The Vermont Agency of Education has shared a useful set of resources which are included in this newsletter. In addition, some projects are happening in our schools to celebrate this month. The School Board has completed a first reading of OSSD C29 Equity Policy. The proposed C29 Equity Policy is exactly as written in the C29 recommended policy from the Vermont School Board Association. The 2nd reading of this policy is at the next board meeting on February 8. We continue to pursue grants to fund important work including STEM projects, Community Engagement, and After School Programing. All this and much more contribute to the wonderful schools that make up OSSD. Thank you for all your support in keeping our schools safe and healthy places for all students to learn and grow.
Open Forums Planned 2/2, 2/9, & 2/16
Dear OSSD Community,
We are moving towards some bitterly cold morning temperatures this week with Friday predicted to be extremely cold most of the day. Please take a spare moment each morning to ensure students are well dressed for the weather which will get colder each morning through Friday.
To make up for the district open forum that needed to be canceled last month due to the snowstorms, we will be running three this month – one in each town. The meetings will focus on the same three topics: 1) Impact of the 2023-24 proposed district budget on local taxes, 2) feedback and ideas from folks as we examine a draft homework policy (attached), and 3) an open question, answer, and listening session.
OSSD Homework Expectations v12.21.22 - Draft.pdf
- 6:30 PM in the Brookfield Elementary School Cafeteria on February 2nd
- 6:30 PM in the Braintree Elementary School Cafeteria on February 9th
- 7:00 PM in the High School Media Center on February 16th
These are in person meetings, for those who cannot attend and are interested in the district’s 2023-24 budget, I will send a report out to the community that contains all the information folks need to be fully informed two weeks prior to the budget vote in March.
Heart Model Project at RUHS
As many of you know Felicia Allard, the Director of the Randolph Technical and Career Center has resigned. We are grateful for her three years of service as the Director. She led with a vision of improvement and successfully grew enrollment despite the challenges of the pandemic. Under her direction the school has added challenging and innovative programing including the Dental Arts program and the Digital Filmmaking program. While we will miss Felicia on our leadership team, we are looking to the future. We have begun our search for the next Director. That position and all other opportunities for employment in the district are posted on SchoolSpring.
We continue to pursue grants to fund important work including STEM projects, Community Engagement, and After School Programing. This month we are submitting an application for the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century grant which would increase access to after school and summer programming for students across the district.
OSSD was recently awarded a $25,000 grant from Nellie Mae Educational Foundation to fund upcoming work with the Community Engagement Lab and No Strings Marionettes. OSSD has also secured $16,500 in Federal Grant Funds for Portrait of a Graduate work facilitated by Up For Learning. We are seeking student leaders for both the Portrait of a Graduate work and the Community Engagement Lab project. Students interested in these leadership opportunities can talk to a teacher about providing them with a nomination. Nominations are due by Monday, February 6th at 9:00 AM.
Black History Month
Braintree Elementary School was awarded the VPA Equity Grant for curriculum work with Clemmons Family Farm. Students are learning about interesting Vermont black history through this partnership.
Here are some Black History Month resources from the Vermont Agency of Education:
To help celebrate Black History Month, students in grades PreK-5 might enjoy this article from PBS Parents Thrive: Teaching Your Child about Black History Month. Older students can learn about Bessie Coleman in the PBSLM Unladylike Collection. For a local connection, the Brave Little State Podcast series Homegoings includes BIPOC art and perspectives from Vermont teens. Also, check out the Timeline Podcast with Vermont Public’s Classical host, James Stewart, to learn more about the life and music of Scott Joplin, “The King of Ragtime.” Visit the Vermont Public Kids and Education page to find more recommendations for high-quality media and resource collections.
OSSD Child Nutrition Program
The food just keeps getting better and better at OSSD schools and we are so grateful to Sarah Natvig and her team.
February Lunch Menus
In addition, we are excited that Braintree Elementary School and Randolph Elementary School were both awarded the Fresh Fruit and Veggie grant again this year. The program started a few weeks ago in mid January and will continue through the end of the school year. Students are really enjoying the extra snack and are trying both well loved fruits like watermelon but also exploring less common items like star fruit.
Cognia Statewide Assessments
District wide, our teachers and staff will soon be preparing for the new Vermont academic statewide assessment. These mandated tests are important for school funding, statewide ranking of our schools, and local property values. We will be encouraging all students to do their best on these tests and will be supporting them with good meals, breaks, and appropriate supports to help them do their best.
Here is a segment from an article originally published on MSN, November 10, 2022:
Vermont students in grades three to nine will be taking a new state exam in 2023, with an emphasis on equity. Annual testing, in addition to regular in-class exams, helps educators and state leaders keep track of how Vermont students are achieving in the classroom. Cognia is replacing the Smarter Balanced Assessment or the SBAC.
“We are moving toward having a more equitable assessment program. We are not promising that we have the most equitable and representative assessment program of all programs. But what we are doing is we are making steps toward that, so we’re evaluating what our program has looked like over time in the past,” said Amanda Gorham, the director of assessment with the Vermont Agency of Education.
Here is how Gorham says the new Cognia exam is different from the SBACS and past exams:
- There will be multiple translations and accommodations for all types of learners.
- There will be a diverse group of readings and authors for exam passages.
- There will be one platform to test ELA, math, and science, whereas in the past there were two different platforms to test the subject areas.
- It’s expected to be shorter, but that won’t be known until students actually take the test.
Shout Out to the Town Road Crews
Would the town road crews of Braintree Brookfield and Randolph be of interest to you?
These unsung hero's who work tirelessly behind the scenes often go unnoticed .
On January 13 they began at 3:30am.
Communication between town foreman's and bus coordinator regarding the current weather conditions and the affects it has on the roads and if the conditions of bus routes were safe for travel by 6am
The communication with road crews is key to our success in keeping students safe riding the school bus each morning and afternoon.
The wisdom needed in making the right choice weighs heavily on the decision makers to either run the buses on time as scheduled or perhaps have a 2 hour delay due to current weather changes - or cancel school altogether because of impending weather in forecast all while keeping with our motto "SAFETY FIRST''
What many in the community may not realize - is that the communication continues during the bus routes between transportation coordinator and bus driver with road crews from each town on the shared radio system
Bus drivers can now relay road conditions - fallen trees branches to the town -
Snow plow drivers can communicate directly to a specific bus number on specific route and get there location and direction so they can plow road just ahead of the bus.
Nonetheless - what we have here in this community with all 3 towns is unique and what keeps us all safe no matter the weather - and in Vermont - the weather changes fast.
Thank you to all our our road crew members and bus drivers.
February - Black History Month
February 2 - Open Forum at Brookfield Elementary School at 6:30 PM
February 8 - RTCC Board Meeting at RUHS Media Center at 5:00 PM (remote link)
February 8 - OSSD Board Meeting at RUHS Media Center at 6:00 PM (remote link)
February 9 - Open Forum at Braintree Elementary School at 6:30 PM
February 15 - Early release for students - Full day for faculty
February 16 - Open Forum at Randolph Union High School Media Center
February 17 - Random Act of Kindness Day
Orange Southwest School District
Location: 24 Center Street, Randolph, VT 05060