School district to develop equity audit

The Champlain Valley School District (CVSD) is developing an equity audit that will be concluded by the spring.

Traditionally, equity audits are used by schools to assess diversity, equity, and inclusion measures.

According to CVSD Superintendent Rene Sanchez, who spoke about the planned equity audit during the CSVD Board of Directors regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 21, the school district will use an equity audit for several purposes: to develop an understanding of the scope and nature of racism in the district; to develop an understanding of the district’s discipline system and evaluate the school district’s policies through an equity lens; and to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on student outcomes and indicators.

The planned areas of focus for the audit will be the school district’s culture, academic achievements, disciplinary practices, curriculum, and teaching capacity, and the support services it offers students, families, and staff.

“Just last year the school district passed an equity policy and an equity definition,” Sanchez said. “Since that was honored by the board, we know that equity floats throughout all different parts of the school district when it comes to instruction, to curriculum, to transportation, to budget, to all different aspects of the district. I wanted to make sure that we had a baseline so as we move forward and we are recognizing the value of the equity policy passed by the board that we can point towards either progress or maintenance of equity practices.”

Sanchez said that he and other members of the district want to know where the district stands when it comes to equity.

“It will lead to conversations that we can have at the schools and the community so everyone would have a more concrete understanding of what it means to practice equity,” Sanchez said. “Once we have the information that we need, we will identify important stakeholders and ask them to help us brainstorm some solutions that we can have in place going forward.”

Sanchez said the school district will use the equity plan to ensure the school district makes progress on a regular process.

According to Sanchez, the school district has received four different proposals from companies that want to conduct the equity plan for the district: New York University Metro Center, Mass Insight, Education Development Center, and a combined proposal from Up for Learning and The Center for School Climate and Learning.

However, the Superintendent did not say what the estimated costs were for each company’s services.

According to a timeline provided by Sanchez, the school district planned to decide which company to use to conduct the audit by Friday, Oct. 1 and planned to begin working with the selected organization on Monday, Oct. 4.

When contacted by The News on Tuesday, Oct. 5, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent Sandy Raymond said Superintendent Sanchez will be meeting on Thursday, Oct. 7 with the DEI Group. Raymond said although a formal announcement has not been made, the process of picking an organization has been going well.

Sanchez said the school district will be holding meetings and listening sessions in the fall for district stakeholders, and collecting data through a focus group survey in the winter.