Gail Callahan | Correspondent

The Champlain Valley School Board met in September, breaking into three committees to outline how the groups will work as the academic year progresses.

The meeting at CVU featured the board’s Communications/Community Connections Committee, the Finance, Budget and Facilities group, and the Human Resources and Labor Relations panel. Along with school directors, Superintendent of Schools Elaine Pinckney and CVSD Director of Human Resources: Personnel, Policy and Legal Services Mark McDermott, and Director of Student Support Services Meagan Roy also attended the gathering.

Just prior to board members breaking into the committees, school directors discussed that SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) scores are slated to be released by state education officials shortly.

On the heels of that, the board noted the shortage of bus drivers impacting Charlotte and the effect of taking children to school and back home following the end of the day. Charlotte uses Bet-Cha Transit based in Middlebury.

“Yes, there’s a shortage, but it’s not just with us, it’s across the United States,” said Bet-Cha Transit Operations Manager Don Kirby. “We offer a good rate of pay and a $1,500 sign-on bonus, and we also pay for services to upgrade licenses.”

Kirby said a Charlotte bus driver retired, and in the wake of that company officials re-tooled a route. “It seems to be working well now,” he said.

As board members broke into individual committees, Kelly Bowen, who was selected chairman of the panel, CVSD Chairman Dave Connery, Erin Brady and Kevin Mara met as the Communications/ Community Connections panel.

The group discussed former CVU Principal Val Gardner’s presentation last year, which pointed out the need to engage the community. Also, the committee reviewed a draft work plan that included discussion of scheduled articles and topics, talk about a possible September Welcome event, and where and how to communicate with the public, noting that 72 percent of residents spread across the consolidated district’s five towns don’t have children enrolled in district schools.

The discussion then turned toward some of the school year’s “first” events, including orientations and curriculum nights.

The Finance, Budget and Facilities Committee, comprised of Lynne Jaunich and Erik Beal, who both represent Charlotte and are former Charlotte Central School Board members, along with Ray Mainer and Brendan McMahon also welcomed CVSD Administrator Jeanne Jensen to their meeting.

The first job committee members tackled was to draw up a work plan that includes a long-range capital plan and tax recommendation to budget meetings. School directors also reviewed the budgeting process and went over the board’s role, expectations and responsibilities.

School boards generally start the budgeting process in late fall, and the committee held early talks on fiscal models. Proposed financial plans must be warned no later than late January to be placed on Town Meeting ballots.

Other discussion topics included review of health care recapture. The committee looked at state and local figures regarding health care. The current gap for the “Preferred” plan for FY 18 is $155,578.

Then, the committee took a pre-audit look at CVSD’s fund balance after the fourth quarter. The current unaudited fund balance for the district is $2,126,429, according to unofficial minutes from the meeting.

The last item on the agenda concerned a transportation analysis and how to move forward. The committee reviewed the data and recommendations. The group is poised to tell the full board that a study of all bus routes in the district be undertaken before the proposed budget in completed.

Human Resources and Labor Relations Committee. Committee members Russ Caffry and Amanda Marvin, along with McDermott, Roy and Pinckney worked on issues related to human resources.

Like the other groups, the panel also talked about a work plan for the year. The discussion then moved to the support staff’s contract. McDermott, who sat on the CCS board, and Caffry are slated to talk with the union. Also, Marvin volunteered to be board representative to the teacher health and safety committees, with Caffry working as CVSD board representative to the salary committee. McDermott is also poised to contact the Union and Co-curricular subcommittees and then inform the board about discussions. Those teacher groups were created by the new educator contract.

The committee also discussed succession planning, noting that more research is needed concerning emergency succession, short- and long-term plans and training of current employees.

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