by Allison Duquette

The school board meeting started with an executive session that lasted nearly an hour. During community comments a parent spoke about the recent LGBTQ breakfast that took place at MMS. She stated that her son felt confused and left out. Another community member spoke about the change in public comment rules, stating that it seems unfair to make people wait until the end of the meeting to comment on discussion items, when meetings can often go late into the evening.

There usually isn’t much of note in the consent agenda, but this meeting showed 17 teachers resigning or retiring before or at the end of the 22/23 school year.

The superintendent’s report was short and sweet. She talked mostly about the new VTCAP assessment and the interim Secretary of Education’s response to concerns about the results which states that statewide assessments are only one part of looking at student achievement. Local assessments and other measures are also important. Because the legislative session is about to end and there might be some changes, Amy didn’t talk about what the VT legislature is working on.

The operations report dealt mostly with PCB testing taking place in the MIC center. This is the new Innovation Center in the HS. PCBs were found in the floor and there will need to be remediation which will push the construction date back at least a few weeks. Routine PCB testing was scheduled for Herrick Avenue last month but did not take place and will need to be done for the HS next April. School systems around the state are waiting for legislators to either move ahead with testing or pause it before the end of the session.

The different board committees didn’t have much to report as there isn’t much going on for their respective committees right now, except the policy committee. Karen presented the board with a list of policies that have been recently approved, are under review or awaiting approval.

Jonathan Havens presented the price for the Chromebook purchases, which has been yearly for the last five years. The board approved $78,750 for Chromebooks which has been close to the going rate for the last few years. The board also approved the renewal of software contracts totaling about $220,000. All of those items are in the budget.

This was followed by a presentation by the superintendent titled “MTSD Programming: A Continuum of Support.” Overall, it was about how the support team provides supports for students that need them and how it looks different for different students and outlined the tiered nature of it. The Monarch room is a sensory intervention space for pre-K and grade 1 students. The MMS flexible learning flexible scheduling program is being rolled out in the Middle School.

Finally, the equity policy first read took place. Many of the board comments, while insightful, were questions that have been asked multiple times in the past and not been addressed. Other suggestions by board members were about the minutia of single words or punctuation.

A new position has been proposed titled “Director of Continuum of Support Services” which has a three-page description and no salary listed. This position will be paid for by ESSER funds for one year then a discussion will take place whether to roll the position into the general fund.

The second round of community comments took place after the discussion items. A community member expressed his frustration with the equity policy and how it could lead to the ending of AP courses and other consequences that have been seen in other parts of the country. A parent thanked the board for their work and is glad the policy is shorter than it was. I expressed my disappointment that no one answered questions that I had asked about the equity policy in an email prior to the meeting. I also pointed out the “From Theory to Culture” tag line on the equity strategy appendix at the end of the policy and asked what Theory this was referring to. A community member pointed out that the policy is redundant and covered by many other policies already in place and that an ad-hoc equity panel is not needed as that should be the job of the board itself. Another parent spoke about the policy being a trojan horse for progressivism in the school, there is no way to measure equity and how hard it is to get the curriculum being taught. She went over time and was declared out of order by the chair. A student spoke in favor of the policy. Another student spoke in favor of the policy highlighting that he spoke English as a second language and got the help he needed in Milton when he didn’t get it elsewhere. A third student who identifies as trans spoke in favor of the policy because of witnessing bullying. A parent took issue with the definition of diversity given in the policy and that the policy causes division because it excludes a majority of the students. Another parent spoke about having diversity when she was a student at the school, but didn’t have all of the issues that are taking place now and talked about her child not getting the help she needs in math. A student spoke about being on an IEP early and is now a good student, but only because his mom is a teacher and knows the system. He spoke in favor of the equity policy to help fix the system. Finally, a parent spoke over zoom about being in favor of the equity policy and equated those that are against the equity policy with those that opposed racial integration in the school systems in the 1950’s as well as Nazis.

After the second round of community comments a large portion of the audience left the MHS library and began to exit the building. There was an altercation in the hallway outside of the library which is being investigated at this time. The board took a short recess to ensure that everyone was okay and to alert the authorities. After a few minutes the board resumed the meeting and made its way through the remaining agenda items.


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