CAES board works to smooth over consolidation issues, addresses school nurse concerns

By Gloria Dufield
©2015-Telegraph Publishing LLC

Much of the agenda at the Monday, April 13 Chester-Andover School Board meeting reflected the 2013 consolidation of Windsor Southwest Supervisory Union and the Rutland-Windsor Supervisory Union into the Two Rivers Supervisory Union.

Vice chair Tonya Fleming and chair Marilyn Mahusky. Photos by Gloria Dufield

Vice chair Tonia Fleming and chair Marilyn Mahusky. Photos by Gloria Dufield

TRSU’s Innovations in Learning Committee recommended offering limited school choice for grades K-8 within the school district. School choice is available to grades 9 through 12 on a statewide basis and Mount Holly Elementary has a limited school choice agreement with other non-district schools, both of which could act as a model for CAES.

Legal counsel still needs to review the agreement. CAES School Board chair Marilyn Mahusky said the program created opportunities for children and parents, the types of benefits that schools were looking for with merging supervisory unions.

The board also began reviewing Policy F26  governing Restraint & Seclusion of unruly children. It was not included in the 23 policies that were adopted when the new supervisory union was formed. Other schools within the district are also reviewing the policy.

CAES board vice chair Tonia Fleming asked if  this is in line with state policy and Associate Superintendent Linda Waite said it was. The TRSU procedures to be used in conjunction with the F26 policy include a two-page “Protocol for Debriefing Following Administering Restraints,” an extensive form that outlines the parties involved, description of the incident including behavior and alternatives used in place of physical restraints and a post-intervention, response reporting section.

Who signs the teacher contracts?

Associate Superintendent Linda Waite addresses an issue during the CAES board meeting on April 13. Photos by Gloria Dufield.

Associate Superintendent Linda Waite addresses an issue during the CAES board meeting on April 13. Photos by Gloria Dufield.

In other action, Waite said she and Superintendent Bruce Williams, who was not at the meeting, had looked into whether it was required that school board chairs sign teacher contracts.

She asked the board to consider for next year that the superintendent sign instead because of the potential difficulty in getting board chairs’ signatures, particularly during the summer months. She added that it would be consistent with other schools in the district. The board, Waite said, would still see a list of the teacher contracts.

But board member Jake Arace said he thought the board should still sign while Mahusky said she didn’t see the inconvenience.

Finance director Christopher Adams told the panel that the audit of the Chester-Andover budget was complete and the budget review was positive. The audit was required for all schools in the district. Adams said the special education budget did overspend, but he added that he still believed there would be a surplus at the end of the fiscal year.  A teacher in the audience asked how much of the special education spent would be reimbursed by the state. Adams stated that for every $100 spent, the school recoups $56. But, he said, the surplus would not come from this but from other areas of the budget where dollars were not spent.

Splitting a school nurse

During public comment, a parent with two young children in attendance brought up the issue of the school nurse position being reduced.  Waite said that state standards in health education are perhaps not being meet, and a health educator would take over health education, which is now being taught by classroom teachers.

Waite added that, with the retirement of the Cavendish Town Elementary School nurse — which is 60 per cent of a full time position — there had been talk of sharing a nurse between the two elementary schools and creating a health educator position.

She also said that Ludlow and Mount Holly schools share a nurse and that the nurse position cannot teach health education. The parent said she did not see the need for a health educator at the elementary level and that the nurse serves a more substantial roll than just dispensing Band-Aids. Waite stated that the health educator was not only focused on nutrition but also on early intervention and education on substance abuse. An elementary school teacher said she believed that a lot of health education was already occurring in the school and asked that the current health curriculum be reviewed to see where the gaps may be.

CAES Principal Sherri Nichols said that this was already being done. Waite confirmed that for the next school year, the nursing position would remain at its current level. Mahusky said said the board would look at the data “very carefully” before making any change.

The CAES School Board meets on the second Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the school, 73 Main St. Chester-Andover school board meetings are also recorded by SAPA TV, where they can be viewed.

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About the Author: Gloria Dufield is a Green Mountain Union High School and University of Vermont graduate. She has more than 15 years of experience working in higher education libraries. Her most recent writing includes marketing projects for a Vermont GIS company as well as articles for a weekly publication.

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