Health care, pet policies and homework discussed at last CVSD board meeting

Teacher negotiations regarding health care jump-started the Champlain Valley School District board meeting May 2. The final proposal to the teachers association was that the board would put in 85 percent of the premium contribution to the HRA. The association would cover the other 15 percent.

The next order of business was the approval of four 1.0 FTE special educators,

Sarah Sargent, Elizabeth Birmingham, Thomas Daily and Sarah Gordon, as well as a 1.0 FTE personalized learning coordinator, Carly Rivard. In this clump of approvals Cris Milks was granted a leave of absence and an .80 FTE math coordinator position.

The two subjects that created the most discussion at the meeting were the pet policy on school property and homework. There was a lengthy discussion on whether dogs should be allowed on school grounds or at games. Some felt that dogs intimidated the children and created messes on the playground and that they also disrupted games. Making a district-wide policy on this is complicated by the fact that many schools lease their fields from the town, which raised questions about enforcement of any new school policy on the matter. In the end the board decided to fall back on individual town ordinances regarding dogs in public areas. Mark McDermott will draft a document to be reviewed by the board. The policy on animals in school was to remain the same.

Next was the discussion of homework policy. No homework was to be given to the students over vacations that were longer than three days. The board agreed that reading could be excluded from this since everyone should be reading. This was more for large projects and tests not scheduled right after vacation. Student board member Thomas Daly said that most teachers at CVU already complied with this and gave options for large projects well ahead of time and did not schedule tests or project completion dates for immediately after a lengthy break. Difficulty came with the K-8 schools. Williston has no homework, while Shelburne and Charlotte have some teachers who assign homework and others who do not. All schools need to have the same policy as they are now under one board.

Lynne Jaunich felt that the homework policy raised a much bigger issue, which led to a discussion on the copywriting policy for Graduation Challenge. While CVU is still working on Graduation Challenge requirements, she felt the copywriting policy needed to be reviewed. Today more professionals are working with students. Therefore the students are working with more community mentors. The workspace has become much more collaborative, so how do you gauge what work is actually the students’? McDermott agreed to research the issue and report back to the board.

The CVSD board then moved to planning its upcoming retreat. Board members created a long list of topics and assigned the highest priority to the following: How many board members were needed for a quorum? What are the board’s goals and priorities? How will the board know it is effective in delivering services to the larger school community?

Last, the board elected Colleen MacKinnon as vice chair and set its regular meetings, beginning in September, for the third Tuesday of the month at 6:00 p.m.