EWSD Board Takeaways - 1.8.19

The Essex Westford School Board met on January 8 and 15, 2019. Highlights of both meetings are included:

  • Erin Maguire, our Co-Director of Student Support Services, joined the Board on January 8 to present an update on the current state of pre-K funding throughout the District. The implementation of Act 166 guarantees 10 hours of pre-K education throughout the state for eligible children as long as they attend an accredited provider. Participation within the program is overseen through the school districts themselves, and while we provide only a portion of pre-K services within the schools, we do monitor the numbers of those that take advantage as well as the dozens of partner programs they are attending. With the merger and the introduction of our new data system, we will also have tracking ability to follow those students that have chosen to take advantage of the Act 166 program as they enter into EWSD schools, providing a snapshot of how well pre-K participation can prepare and impact these students when they begin school. While widely utilized, there is not 100% participation which can be tracked to a number of reasons including the need to have children in childcare greater than the 10 hours Act 166 provides for or daycare programs which do not meet the threshold to qualify as a partner program. Regardless of this, the number remains very high and we are optimistic that new data systems will display concrete results of student achievement by taking advantage of Act 166 going forward. 
  • One of the most critical parts of EWSD's self-assessment process is in not just the setting, but also the monitoring of our own goals. The Board's goals were decided at our annual retreat in August. To that end, EWSD has set 12 goals for itself and in the January 8 meeting, we established evidence that we could use to show how we were going about meeting each of them. In addition to setting benchmarks we could use as evidence of our own performance as a board, Brendan Kinney was given the presentation responsibility for goal number nine, review and possible revision of our transportation policy. During the January 15 meeting, Brendan drafted a monitoring report centered around this topic. In it, he was able to cite through meetings and documentation how the EWSD Board approached and completed this Board goal. Going forward, the Board will charge its members to present similar drafts for each board goal to review our progress through the year.
  • An update on transportation was provided at January 8 meeting. Due to the turn around between scheduled board meetings for this and January 15, this update will cover topics discussed at both. The biggest takeaway from these meetings is the decision to begin implementing Junction transportation. Driver recruitment and gains have unfortunately only been enough to cover the loss of drivers that the District's contractor has experienced this year. As a result, it has meant that the anticipated rollout to the Junction was pushed back past its initial projected date. Given these circumstances, the decision has been made to roll out transportation within the Junction when we have two fully trained drivers rather than the six needed for full K-8 coverage. While this does mean that we will have portions of Essex Junction grade levels still lacking in busing, our youngest (with anticipated coverage for K-3, serving Hiawatha and Summit to begin) will be provided some relief during winter months that make walking to school particularly challenging on this population. Recruitment efforts will continue and as additional drivers come on they will be added to provide routes to older students. These new routes will be finalized by the end of January, but the service will not begin until we have recruited two drivers to run them.
  • The EWSD Board next meets at 6:30 p.m. on January 22 in the EHS Library for a budget work session
  • Complete minutes for the January 8, 2019 EWSD Board meeting.
  • Complete minutes for the January 15, 2019 EWSD Board meeting