Windham's February WNESU Office Report page

February WNESU Office Report

February WNESU Office Report
Posted on 02/03/2020
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Windham Northeast Supervisory Union

      “Creating an Inclusive Community through Personalized Student Engagement.”

      Athens     Grafton Rockingham     Westminster



WNESU Office Report  

February  2020



Christopher Pratt, Superintendent:

Education Priorities Taking Shape In Committees

In the first week of this legislative session, there were displays of collegiality among committee members and discussion about the need to improve upon the complex initiatives currently underway. While school boards and school district personnel were hoping for a review of and necessary adjustments to existing initiatives, several new educational topics have been added to the legislative agenda. Below is a summary of some educational topics being discussed. It is difficult to predict at this point which will result in bill introduction and/or follow-up action:

  • Act 173 - Legislators are interested in understanding professional development for the implementation of Act 173, even as they grapple with a complex, yet very informative Weighing Study

  • Tax Structure - Declining enrollment and an aging population are two factors affecting the stability of Vermont's tax structure.

  • Education Funding - Education funding is a perennial interest of the General Assembly and the work of the Tax Structure Commission in combination with the release of the Weighting Study, Vermont’s changing demographics and the rising cost of education all may contribute to an interest in continuing a review Act 166 - Legislators will hear about the EDC’s Prekindergarten Education Study and aims to make minor adjustments to address persistent challenges of Universal Prekindergarten.  REL report on UPK enrollment in VT (2016-17) can be found here.

  • Literacy -  In addition to the suggestions in the DMG report, NAEP scores are precipitating conversations on effective literacy instruction.

  • Proficiency-Based Learning - Legislators are interested in the successes and challenges of implementation across the state: as well as the effect on college acceptance.

  • AOE Capacity - Secretary Dan French presented testimony, detailing shifts from a shallow, yet wide organization to a deeper and more narrow organization.  The goal is for increased internal cross-training and capacity-building, yet many positions remain vacant, including a state-wide Literacy Specialist position.

  • School Construction - A moratorium on school construction, deferred maintenance, and buildings constructed during the industrial age has resulted in many schools needing repair. 

  • State Board of Education - Legislators are reviewing proposals to shift some current SBE responsibilities to the Agency of Education.

  • Universal Afterschool Opportunities - The Governor has requested the establishment of a task force to analyze the cost and administration of a proposed universal afterschool program of the Education Funding System.

  • School Meals - S223 is a bill to require all public schools in Vermont to make available school breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge.

1/20/20: As of today, all of the schools, including WNESU, have a new look at the website.  I hope you all find the new sites easier to navigate and can find what you are looking for.   The new website is also ADA compliant. ADA is the American's Disability Act. The link to the site is

1/21/20:  We had our first WNESU Mid-year Celebration.  During this time we all had breakfast that was provided by the WNESU Food Services.  In addition, each school Principal shared with the entire WNESU community their accomplishments and celebration for the first half of the year.  We also introduced some new faculty and staff and raffled off some prizes. Before sending everyone out for the rest of the day for Measures of Academic Progress training (MAPs) we took a group photo.

Questions For the WNESU School Board and proposed by the Faculty and Staff in WNESU

January 23, 2020

  • Is the WNESU confident that all of the timesheets have been accurately calculated and that employees have been paid for all of their hours? 

  • How is WNESU going to calculate lost interest on 403b accounts?

  • Will lost interest on 403b accounts be recouped, and how?

  • Will W2s be accurate and available on time?

  • Is there a tax liability that will not be reflected on W2s given that they show deposits made into qualifying 403b accounts that did not actually occur?  

  • When did the central office become aware of the issues with the 403b accounts?

  • Did the payroll issues impact VSTRS?

  • Why is there a discrepancy between the information being provided to some employees by TD Bank Ameritrade, and that provided by the administration related to the 403b transfers?

  • Will late deposits made into 403b accounts that should have been made last year, count toward this year’s limit for deposits. 

  • What will be done to ensure that WNESU employee’s Blue Cross Blue Shield claims are not denied?

  • Why was nobody hired to assist with payroll back in September when issues were first known?

  • What is the current status of staffing in the business office? 

  • What will be done to ensure that WNESU employee’s Blue Cross Blue Shield claims are not denied?

  • What will be done to ensure that substitute teachers are receiving the correct pay for the correct hours?

  • Would WNESU consider a third-party audit?

  • Are WNESU employee’s FSA accounts fully loaded at the beginning of the year?

  • Can the WNESU address policy concerns around the termination of staff at the business office? 



Dr. Missy Wilkins, Director of Professional Learning and Outreach

Welcome to 2020, January has been a busy month filled with professional development and new learning activities. 

We had two Dare to Lead™ workshops during January.  On the 17th, WNESU administrators had their third day-long Dare to Lead™ training led by Missy Wilkins at the Rockingham Public Library. This advanced training is based on the research of Dr. Brene´ Brown, a college professor, and researcher, who has trained 500 Dare to Lead™ facilitators worldwide. One of whom is your truly. On the 23rd, WNESU supervisory union building staff had their second Dare to Lead™ two-hour training that included lunch.  

The Center for Teaching & Learning is hosting a three-credit graduate-level math course offered by Castleton University titled Relational Thinking in the Primary Grades: Foundations for Algebra. Teachers from Two Rivers, Windham Central and Windsor Central joined the course along with WNESU teachers. This course is being taught by Loree Silvis and meets at BFMS after school. For additional information click here.

The January 21st mid-year celebration and in-service day (overview) started with breakfast and followed by a celebration. The superintendent and principals introduced new staff hired since our last supervisory gathering and shared successes and achievements. The celebration was followed by MAPs Growth Training for all led by Tim Neville (agenda). In addition, teachers participated in school-based for the second half of their day.  Paraprofessionals were treated to a full day of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). For the complete agenda visit here.

This month we also held a supervisory union-wide teacher mentoring check-in meeting and New Teacher Academy. This month’s topic was Using Robots in the Classroom led by the WNESU technology team. Teachers had a blast engaging in their own learning! This workshop will also be offered to all WNESU teachers on January 30th after school.

To learn more that is happening at the WNESU Center for Teaching and Learning, including the professional development calendar and agendas, upcoming courses, and another programming, please visit the CTL webpage at .

Andy Haas, Director of Student Service

As of January 24, 2020, we have 37 fewer students receiving Special Education Services since September 2019.  However, we have had to add two additional paraprofessionals in that same time frame due to some of the more intensive needs of some students.  These numbers are reflected below. We believe that our efforts within Student Services to coordinate Educational Support Teams (EST) and 504s have been a contributing factor in the reduction of students being identified.  This is the foundation for a strong Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). 


At the beginning of this school year, we launched this coordination for EST and 504 with new forms and procedures.  Our goal was to provide teachers support for students, increase parental involvement, and address student needs before being referred to Special Education.  Part of this process is the Student Support Team (SST) which meets twice a month to determine if we will move forward on evaluation for Special Education. SST brings the school team, parents, and Student Services together to discuss a student.  Often, we have determined, with the parent, that there is not a need for a Special Education evaluation; allowing the student to receive support through EST or 504. Stacey Alexander, Assistant Director of Student Services is coordinating the EST process and Andy Haas, Director of Student Services is coordinating the 504 processes.  The EST coordinators (from each building) will be meeting to discuss the new process and how it can be refined. The 504 coordinators have met once and will be meeting again in the second half of the year.


During the most recent full In-Service Day, Special Education and Regular Education paraprofessionals were provided training from HCRS in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills.  DBT Skills focus on four sets of behavioral skills: mindfulness; distress tolerance; interpersonal effectiveness; and emotion regulation. The benefit is for both the student and the adult to work towards a balance. (Example: A student may be upset because of something that went wrong at home, we cannot change that, nor can the student (at that moment), but by focusing on what can be controlled and how to regulate the student’s emotions, we can help the student be in a place that they can access their education.)  So far, the feedback from the training has been positive. Providing tools for our staff to support students is vital to student success.



Harley Sterling, Director of School Nutrition

The kitchen team at Central Elementary School continues to make gains in the lunch program.  On January 10, lunch participation was 87% for the first time ever, which is a tremendous achievement.  80% of CES students who participate in the lunch program receive free or reduced meals.

We were thrilled to cater the Mid Year Celebration breakfast on 1/21/20.  Our team continued to build on their impressive body of work and has now billed $21,906.86 YTD in event catering.

We have begun the implementation of cafeteria compost programs at all of the schools in WNESU (SRES & GES have an existing program with VT Academy). The School Nutrition Program staff are working with maintenance staff, admins, and classroom teachers at BFMS to get the student food scrap program up and running.  At WCS and CES the cafeteria and kitchen food scrap programs are thriving and we are filling 2, 55 gallon totes per week.

Since changing the breakfast program at SRES on 12/20/19 we have seen a 22% decline in breakfast participation.  It was communicated to us that grab and go bag breakfast was disruptive to the morning classroom routine and we agreed to try a hot breakfast in the cafeteria instead.


School meals participation in January 2020

Breakfast Month YTD

Athens/ Grafton Elementary School 57% 55%
Bellows Falls Middle School 21% 21%
Bellows Falls Union High School 20% 20%
Central Elementary School 41% 39%
Saxtons River Elementary School 24%* 29% *(No Grab & Go 12/20/19)
Westminster Center School 24% 25%
Breakfast Total 31% 32%

Lunch Month YTD

Athens/ Grafton Elementary School 67% 67%
Bellows Falls Middle School 50% 50%
Bellows Falls Union High School 31% 33%
Central Elementary School 79% 74%
Saxtons River Elementary School 59% 58%
Westminster Center School 53%* 61%    *(Winter Sports)
Lunch Total 56% 57%

We are continuing to research alternative revenue streams to support the Farm to School Cafe, including vending meals to Meals on Wheels clients.  We will be traveling to production kitchens in Vermont and New Hampshire in the coming weeks to see operations similar to what we will be proposing to undertake so we can learn more about logistics, staffing needs, and the nutritional guidelines of the Older Americans Act.  We are looking into several equipment grants to help offset startup costs associated with taking on a large venue meal contracts. Our number one goal is to strengthen the financial viability of the Farm to School Cafe and we aim to present a more robust business plan to the board by the next WNESU Budget Committee meeting.

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