Let’s pretend for a moment that you were asked if you would like to save eight cents on your school taxes. How would you respond? I would imagine that most, if not all of us, would give an emphatic “yes!” There would be many natural inquisitive responses to this question. Someone may ask, “What does eight cents mean in real dollars to my tax bill?” Another response could be, “What would we be giving up to get a reduction in our taxes?” Yet another question may be, “How would this reduction affect the quality of our schools and the education of our children?” The fact is there will be a lengthy list of questions when posed with the concept of any reduction in costs since this is atypical and our natural tendency is to become immediately cynical.
Hence, I pose these questions with great trepidation knowing I feel compelled to inform you that this tax reduction is a possibility, and hope you can be open to learning what is involved in taking advantage of these tax incentives as well as the potential $300,000 in grant opportunities over a four-year span of time that would be available to our local school districts.
Recently, the legislature created grant opportunities to promote the engagement of communities in a local governance study, as well as financial incentives for communities during the transition period. The Village of Essex, Town of Essex and Westford formed a study group for this purpose back in 2004 before there were study grants and tax incentives available to us. At the time, a 17-member study committee addressed the challenges that member school districts would face in the future. These included: enrollments that would continue to decline, energy and health care costs that would continue to rise, and fiscal uncertainties that will continue to exist. All 17 committee members concluded that the best way to preserve educational quality and increase educational opportunity for all students is to combine existing resources and areas of expertise. They concluded that efficiencies would be created by moving from four separate districts and five school boards to one unified union district and one school board. In addition, they concluded that efficiencies would be realized in administrative systems and services within a singular district. They also imagined strategic actions by the current separate districts that could create savings that would compound into the future, if there were one unified district.
As many of you remember, voters defeated the proposal to form the Essex-Westford Community School District on Nov. 6, 2007. Looking back at this study a decade later, one realizes the future challenges they grappled with have intensified over time and are now our current realities. Has the time come again for us to engage in a study, particularly in light of the State grant monies that are available to our districts to do so?
What if, after the efforts of Heart and Soul, the communities of Essex Town, Essex Junction and Westford are now better positioned to engage in this conversation with open minds and a spirit of trust during a period of exploration and inquiry?
What if we can imagine a PreK-12 Regional Education District (RED) that preserves the vast array of educational opportunities and promotes choices for our youth, while realizing some of the efficiencies created in a more streamlined governance structure?
What if we can imagine a single structure in which every student, in any one of the schools, would have equal access to a range of opportunities and choices that may not currently exist?
What if we can imagine within a single district a way to minimize the transitions our students and families experience because they moved and crossed village or town boundaries? And, as students naturally transition from one level of education to another, are we better positioned to eliminate the gaps and overlaps in curriculum within a single district?
What if we can slow the increase in escalating per pupil costs over the long term?
What if we can imagine improved communications among teachers, staff, parents and our communities? Could greater focus be given to students and their learning and development? Could the training and professional development of our teachers better assure learning progressions and greater collaboration? Could our taxpayers better understand and engage with the educational system they support?
What if we can build on the collaborative successes that have been demonstrated at the Essex Union 46 High School and Tech Center?
Leaders must be vulnerable and ask the difficult questions. There is a deep sense of urgency for our communities to engage in this important conversation as the tax incentives and grants are only available, if each community votes to form a single district, by July 1, 2017.
Currently, our school boards are contemplating the question of engaging in a study and will be seeking community input. School board meeting times will be posted on our website and communicated through Front Porch Forums once we have some tentative dates. Please become engaged in these community conversations.
Just imagine the possibilities and promise this opportunity may present if we have the will to engage in a study and the courage to unite and form a single district with a more expansive sense of community identity and belonging.
From Principal Laurie Singer
This was the week for public recognition of ADL educators. ABC 22 news dropped by to speak with Kathleen Legg, our 2014 VASE Science Teacher of the Year award winner. Anchor Mike Curkov was able to capture engaging classroom instruction and also interviewed me, Ms. Legg, and students Grace Lu and Josh Baker. The piece aired on the morning news sections on Oct. 21 and can be viewed online on the channel 22 website.
I recently had the good fortune to attend the reception at Ira Allen Chapel for the 2014 UVM Outstanding Teacher of the Year. Being honored from our Essex Junction schools was our own Amanda Eldridge. It was clear from the remarks made by our Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe, Dean of Education and Social Services at UVM Fayneese Miller, and the 2013 Vermont Teacher of the Year Luke Foley, that Ms. Eldridge meets and exceeds the criteria they each referenced for being an outstanding educator. Congratulations again to both Ms. Legg and Ms. Eldridge.
Sixth graders went on their annual field trip to the Audubon Center in Huntington and completed two traditional activities during the trip. Students worked together to gather benthic macro invertebrates from the river. This activity will allow students to determine the overall health of the river system. They also completed an orienteering trail, which is a culminating activity to instruction that occurred in physical education classes. In addition, students completed two tasks that asked them to identify energy flow within the environment. Core samples were taken from the ground in order to see the soil horizons of dirt and organic matter as ‘micro’ examples of energy flow.
The next PTO meeting will take place on Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the music room. All are welcome. Families-keep collecting those Box Tops For Education – it’s an easy way to earn money for the PTO.
Nov. 14 is the Third Grade Talent Show
To all families, the PreK playground is for PreK children only. Thank you for your attention.
Force and Motion
Meghan Turcot’s class began studying their first science unit on force and motion called ‘Way To Go.’ They made observations in their science notebooks of where they saw motion on the playground. Some of the observations that students recorded were the swings swinging, birds flying, people walking, clouds moving and many more. This helped students to start thinking about the following essential questions:How do objects move? What is force? How does force make objects move?
SaveAround PTO Fundraiser
This was an incredible PTO fundraiser bringing in over $2,000. Thank you everyone!
Walking School Bus Wednesday’s
Principal Suzanne Gruendling and PE Teacher Rosalind Hutton lead a regular walking school bus each Wednesday morning. They meet children at the parking lot on Densmore Drive, the lot next to the old police station. This walking bus will depart at 7:35 a.m. Stay with your children at the lot until Gruendling and Hutton arrive. The group will walk rain or shine, sleet or snow, but not in thunder/lightening or temperatures hovering near zero.
Summit’s Annual Fun Run will talk place tomorrow afternoon, Oct. 31. At this time, volunteers are still needed for the run. If interested, visit Summit’s web site, click on the Fun Run link, and then click on the volunteers. Fun Run Schedule is as follows:1-1:30 p.m. Bergstrom, Mahoney, Trombley, Hall 1:35-2:05 p.m. Hamilton, Crannell, Filipek, Manz 2:10-2:40 p.m. Cole, Neil, Dall, Turcot
PTO Gift Card Grab
Gift Card Grab is off to a great start for this school year. October’s fundraising using ‘Grab’ earned over $400, bringing the school year total to over $645. If we keep up this pace, we’ll far exceed last year’s grand total of $6,645.
Winter Outdoor Clothing Drive
Winters in Vermont are cold. Ensure that all children of Summit Street School have warm, weather appropriate gear to enjoy the long winter months. Bring new or gently used winter coats, snow pants/snowsuits, gloves/ mittens, hats and boots, in sizes that would fit children in grades K-3, to school by Nov. 7 and drop them in the bins in the hallway outside the main office.Events Calendar:
Oct. 31 – Fall Fun Run
Nov. 5 – Picture Re-Take Day (early a.m. only)
Nov. 6 – Assembly at 8:15 a.m.
Nov. 11 – PTO Meeting at 6 p.m. followed by Playground Meeting at 7 p.m.
Nov. 18 – Playground Meeting at 7 p.m.
Nov. 20 – Assembly at 8:15 a.m.
Nov. 21 – End of 1st Marking Period
Nov. 24-28 – No school for students; profession development and Thanksgiving break
The school year is well under way at Essex Elementary School. Children are settled into their classes and teachers are getting to know them inside and out. During the first few weeks of school data is collected on various academic skills. Once all the information is gathered specific goals for students can be made. Students that fall below the standard are looked at a bit closer and additional supports are put in place.
Essex Elementary School receives federal funding to offer supplemental reading and math services. Title I is a very important resource. Teachers funded by Title I collaborate with classroom teachers to meet the needs of each student. Title I is not a Special Education program nor does it replace the regular instruction provided by the classroom teacher. Entry into Title services is determined by multiple-criteria including a variety of assessments, screeners and observations of student learning.
Academic support is provided for small groups of students needing additional direct, explicit instruction of particular skills outside of their regular classroom instruction. Supplemental lessons occur four to five times a week for 30 minutes building confidence and improving their academic skills. It is not meant to be a yearlong intervention, but rather intensive and short-term based on each child’s needs. Communication among parents, classroom teachers and other support specialists is essential to student success.Submitted by Christina Mead, Reading Specialist .
As the Essex Town School District transitions to the Common Core State Standards and Next Gen Science Standards, students are having the opportunity to experience a variety of new concepts and units. On the Navigator Team, students are currently studying space science in depth. As part of this study, students have been engaged in creating their own galaxy and a display of a constellation. Students spent time researching a specific constellation and used black construction paper and glow paint to create an artistic representation. Among the constellations the students chose to study were Hercules, The Big Dipper, Aquila, Cancer and The Hydra. Students used a water marbling technique as the backdrop for their artistic endeavor. Not only did students demonstrate creative ability, they also showed a strong understanding of the science content.
Kick-Off. Pass. Steal. Goal. This is the language heard on the physical education field at Founders Memorial School as students play soccer. Grades 3-5 have been engaged in this traditional fall sport for several weeks. Spectacular foliage and pleasant weather have added to the experience. This sport has become so popular that it is played by a wide range of ages and is a favorite choice of playground activities, recreation and youth league play, and summer camps.
The physical education unit focuses on developing fundamental skills, safety, simple strategies and teamwork. There are several critical concepts to consider in planning the practice sessions and among them are the following, according to the NASPE Organization: a) Change in motor skills occurs gradually over many years. b) Getting better at motor skills requires lots of practice. c) Bigger, stronger people may be better at some skills due to their size. d) It is better to focus on movement form than result; the outcome will improve as form improves. e) Working together helps partners get better at motor skills. f) Movement skill development influences social skill development and vice versa. g) Learning many different motor skills gives people more choices for movement as they grow older. h) Finally, learning to enjoy motor skills when young helps people to enjoy them as they grow older. Everyone, let’s play.Submitted by Deanna Thibodeau, Physical Education teacher
Many parents ask the Essex Town School Nurses, “When should we keep our children home from school?” Here are some indications that school children should stay home from school:
- A fever of over 100 F within the past 24 hours.
- Diarrhea or vomiting within the past 24 hours.
- A persistent sore throat with a fever.
- An undetermined rash.
- Eyes that are reddened, itchy and have thick drainage. For “pink-eye”, the student must be treated by your healthcare provider for twenty four hours before returning to school.
If you are ever in doubt about whether or not to send your child to school, don’t hesitate to call the school nurse for advice. It is also an option to keep your child home longer in the morning if you are unsure if you should send them to school. You can bring them for the remainder of the day when you are sure that they are well.
The Vermont Department of Health is also a great resource. They provide up to date information when an increased number of children are being affected by an illness. Recently their website contained a letter with information for parents about Enterovirus D68. Especially important with this virus is to remember to wash your hands. Information can be found about immunizations and other disease prevention. One section of their website is dedicated to School Health. They also provide information for the whole family for staying healthy. This includes getting yearly flu shots for the whole family. More information at www.healthvermont.gov.
The Essex Town School Nurses are Kimberly Bullock at Essex Elementary School, Diana Smith at Founders Memorial School, and Julie Hennessy at Essex Middle School.
Veterans Day Assembly
Fleming’s annual Veterans Day Program will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 11, from 2-3 p.m. in the gym. We invite parents, community members and veterans, to join us for this special program to honor all those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
This year Fleming School is doing a school-wide project to think globally and lend a helping hand. On a recent trip to Tanzania, Miss McClintock met a 10-year-old orphan, Elisha, who desperately wanted to go to school. Last year, Fleming students raised and donated enough money to send Elisha to school to get an education. We are striving to help Elisha go to school again this year by raising $500 for Elisha’s school fees. Students are encouraged to bring in any coins or dollar bills that they have saved up to help Elisha. They are also encouraged to write him a note! We will mail the notes to Elisha in a few weeks. Remember, anyone, no matter their size, can make a difference in the world.
News From The Guidance Office
Congratulations to the 2014 Fleming School Spelling Team! The team compete in the VPA Regional Spelling Competition on Nov. 1 at Williston Central School against four other grade 5/6 teams. The competition starts promptly at 10:15 a.m. Come cheer on the team. Spelling team members are: Isha Gurung, Elaina Hertle, Kaito Esselstrom, Elizabeth Messier, Ben Deiblerand Abdelrahman Elkasaby.
The National Honor Society induction ceremony was held in the high school auditorium on Oct. 21. Advisers Stacey Anthony and Jennifer Luck welcomed this year’s keynote speaker, English teacher Adam Murray. Following is a list of inductees and NHS officers. A reception followed in the cafeteria for all invitees and parents/guests.
NHS President: Matthew Wu
NHS Vice-Presidents: Martin Deutsch, Logan Brunet and Jason Yin
Rose of Sharon Monahan
EHS/CTE Library News
Any Essex resident who has visited the high school’s library will say that change is under way. The library is evolving from a traditional model to a learning commons space, where reading and literacy are still the primary focus but collaboration, presentation, quiet reflection, creativity and innovation occur on a regular basis. The long bank of windows lining the front side of the library makes it a bright and cheery place and sheds light on our ‘reading nook.’ This especially cozy corner is a ‘Wi-Fi cold spot’ where reading and quiet reflection are encouraged. In this corner, you will find beautiful coffee table books and a rotating art exhibit that highlights work by members of the EHS/CTE community. Another new area in the library is our maker space. This space used to house old magazines and has been transformed into a place where students and teachers come to write code for Arduino boards, discover what’s inside a computer, knit hats for needy members of the community and make comic books. The library will continue to evolve with the needs of our students and teachers and adapt to changes in education. You will be hearing from the library periodically with more news and updates.