Washington Central Story

WCUUSD Community Newsletter - January 20, 2022

A New Year...

Welcome to our first newsletter of the new year! We have much to share with you.

This week, the country celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There has been much debate about the best way to honor and celebrate Dr. King's legacy. How can we make the day more than a long weekend or a day off? And how can we honor and acknowledge someone, while still understanding that the real work comes from continuing the legacy on all days, not just his birthday? For me, it really is an opportunity not only to celebrate the life of an individual, but a time to reflect on that work of becoming a more just world for all.

This past Monday, maybe you were able to listen to a podcast; or, maybe you joined a group celebration or event; or, frankly, maybe your own circumstances made it difficult to take time for this. I found myself pausing and listening to an NPR story about the life of Coretta Scott King. Did you know that she was a musician who studied at the New England Conservatory of Music before meeting Dr. King? I was struck by the intersection of her identities and the era in which she lived, learned and worked - as a woman of color in a predominantly white university; as a person who worked multiple jobs to support herself while she studied; and as a proud member of a growing activist community. Regardless, I hope you had a moment to pause and reflect in this busy time.

Speaking of busy - it certainly does seem as though the school year steams ahead after the December break. I hope you have a moment to check out some of the exciting activities happening in your schools. Happy reading!

- Meagan Roy, Superintendent

In this issue...

  1. A big kudos to our facilities team
  2. Safe & Healthy Schools: Cold Weather Bus Stop Reminders
  3. Public Service Announcement: Stay off our U-32 Trails!
  4. Humanity & Justice: U-32 Students Teach the Teachers
  5. Academic Achievement: Some upcoming state assessment changes
  6. Budget Highlights
  7. Upcoming Board meeting information

Special Thanks

In every school system there are so many unsung heroes that it is almost impossible to acknowledge all of them. Today, though, I want to extend a special thank you to the team of people who worked over their holidays in December keeping our buildings safe, warm and running during the power outages. A huge thank you to Chris O'Brien (Director of Facilities) and his team (David Hannigan, Mike Dindo, Todd Hill, Bob Weinstein, Charlie Weinstein, and Chris Tuller) for their hard work. They drove from school to school, checked and rechecked, chased down generator parts, and in some cases kept our buildings open as an emergency shelter (Calais). We thank this team every day, but particular this past month.

Cold Weather Bus Stop Reminder!

It does seem as though winter took a long time to arrive but then came in with a bang! We wanted to take a moment to remind you of our cold weather procedures for morning bus pickups. When we are expecting freezing temperatures and wind chills below zero, we want to help protect students from the cold while waiting for the bus. Students can leave their backpack at the bus stop and wait in the house or car. The backpack notifies the bus driver that the student will be riding the bus. The bus will stop and wait for the student to come out. We hope this process is helpful on those extra cold mornings!

Please Be Aware - Storm Damage on the U-32 Trails!

For those of you who are runners and skiers, be aware that the wooded sections of the nordic ski trails at U-32 are closed right now. We took significant damage from December's storm and have numerous blowdown sites. We also have trees that are considered dangerous because they are leaning or broken but have not fallen. We have had a tree service in to help the situation and they confirmed that the area is not safe! We will be working to fix this but it will be a while. Please stay off of the wooded trails!

U-32 Students Teach the Teachers

Tuesday, January 17th was an inservice day for faculty and staff in Washington Central. The entire district spent the morning at U-32 engaged in our collective Humanity and Justice work, meeting together in our equity book groups and learning together.

By far the highlight of our morning was a session facilitated by students from U-32's Seeking Social Justice (SSJ) group about how to honor and support our LGBTQ+ students in the classroom. The students designed and implemented a fantastic session with faculty and staff, including a presentation, panel discussion and Q&A.

To say that it was inspirational to see our own students courageously sharing stories with their current and former educators is an understatement. This was a perfect example of students identifying something they would like to address, reaching out to see how best to do it, and then putting it into action. And...it was super high quality professional development.

I want to share a huge thank you to Jasper Lorien, Avery Cochran, Jasmine Gruen, Maya Elliott, Wilder Brown, Emily Cook, Katherine Reilly, Addy Budliger, Elly Budliger, Una Liebermann, Mayla Landis-Marinello, Ella Thomas, Ace LaFountain, Kai Ambrose, Edith Lane and Olivia Serrano for their amazing leadership. And an additional thank you to the adult supporters of this group and this session: Thanks to Meg Allison, Amy Koenigbauer, Shelley Vermilya, Jen Miller-Arsenault and Outright VT.

If you would like to learn more about resources for supporting LGBTQ+ youth, please check out this resource site that SSJ developed to share with our faculty and staff.

Academic Achievement

Assessment - How do we know where our students are?

From Jen Miller-Arsenault, Director of Curriculum Assessment & Instruction

Families often work closely with their child's teacher to understand how things are going at school. As a district, we also develop systems to understand how all of our students are doing so that we can respond as a system. Each year we develop a Local Comprehensive Assessment Plan (LCAP) as an integral component of our curriculum framework. The LCAP articulates the common local and statewide assessments that we administer as a way to monitor our students’ progress toward proficiency in our Student Learning Outcomes. We analyze the data in order to inform instruction and document student growth. We seek teacher feedback regarding the LCAP regularly, and we revise the LCAP annually based on that feedback. We want to ensure that the assessments align with our expectations for students and that the timing of the assessments is conducive to teaching and learning.

We also continuously reflect on our practice regarding our expectations for students, and we revise those expectations based on research and evidence. In recent years, for example, we have implemented an online diagnostic math assessment in Grades K-10 that is aligned with both our student expectations and the math program that we use across the district in Grades K-8. This alignment allows us to personalize instruction based on student needs. We are also in the process of revising our early literacy assessments in our elementary grades to better align with our practices regarding more explicit teaching of the relationship between letters, sounds and words.

The Vermont Agency of Education has also revised its assessment program. Beginning this spring we will administer new assessments in literacy, math, and science. This new assessment program is called the Vermont Comprehensive Assessment Program (VTCAP), and it will replace the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC) and the Vermont Science Assessment (VTSA). We are still learning about the new assessment. What we do know at this time is that the tests will be administered via computer and that 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; this is similar to past practice. The testing window opens in mid-April and ends in late May. As we learn more from the Agency of Education we will be sure to share more information with students and families. Stay tuned!

January 18 Board Meeting Recap

Most of you are aware that the budget process this year has been especially challenging. Starting as early as November (and even before then), the Board has been working diligently with administrators to consider what resources are needed in Washington Central in order to meet our instructional goals at a price our communities can afford.

At this week's Board meeting, the Board adopted a budget that will go in front of voters in March. After much discussion, deliberation, and community input, the Board adopted a "level-service" budget (which provides the same level of programming that we offer this year) that represents a 9.98% net expense increase.

For more information or to view a recording of the meeting, please visit the School Board Meeting Resources page on our website: https://www.wcsu32.org/domain/272.

WCUUSD Board Meeting - Meet Your Legislators!

Wednesday, Feb. 1st, 6:15pm

24 Calais Road

Worcester, VT

Please join us at Doty Memorial School as the Board hosts our local legislators for a discussion about issues of relevance for our schools and families.

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