There were no community comments to begin last night’s meeting. One teacher has resigned since the beginning of the year.
The superintendent’s report given by Amy Rex focused on the beginning of the school year. The theme for the year is “inclusion and joy in learning”. There was a DEI speaker for the welcome back to staff day before the year kicked off. Literacy and math growth are a focus this year and there are lots of trainings taking place for different faculty and staff including universal meals implementation, youth mental health and hazing, harassment and bullying. There is going to be a full solar eclipse on April 8th and for the safety of the students school will be let out early that day. Expectations are that 250K people will be visiting the area that day for the eclipse. There has been some confusion between the AOE and VSBA in implementing a new Fire and Emergency Preparedness Drills policy that still has to be ironed out.
Matt Grasso presented the operations report. A building known as the White House has had improvements and is being used for student instruction. Food service is going well. The financial audit is underway. So far this year the school has brought in $6M in revenue.
Brandy Brown and Kurt Vogelpohl presented the principal’s report for the middle school. There are three goals they are focused on for the year. Goal 1 is student achievement and success and centers on fostering curiosity in learning through providing opportunities for knowledge. Grades 5 and 6 are focused on bettering math proficiencies and grades 7 and 8 are offering reading intervention during language blocks if needed. Goal 2 is social emotional health and well-being. Fifth grade is continuing with SEE curriculum that is also in 1st– 4th grades. Sixth through eighth grades are focused on mental, emotional and physical health. Goal 3 is family and community engagement and focuses on cultivating “engaged citizens inspired to meet the demands of a changing society through an awareness of self, others and the world around them in a local and global context”.
The strategic planning committee has met to discuss the calendar and goals. The policy committee presented two policies for a first read last night and the financial management policy is coming up as well as a policy about the flag pole. Facilities committee is focused on the capital fund, cost of repairs, and the Herrick Ave project.
There was a health services presentation last night. The nurse’s office is currently understaffed with three nurses instead of four. Only 7% of office visits resulted in dismissals last year. This year psychological disorders and especially functional neurological disorders have seen a steep rise. The goal of health services is primary prevention, but unfortunately, they are finding themselves operating more in secondary and tertiary prevention. As of survey results from 2021 students are still showing signs of psychological distress which could be a result of covid. Going forward there will be more internal meetings for brainstorming and implementation as well as more external meetings with community groups and the health department. 802 smiles was implemented last year and is being expanded this year. Students can receive cleanings and fluoride treatments and dental sealants. There have also been improvements with substance use prevention practices. Finally, an interesting piece of data was that Milton schools see more concussions than the rest of the state and they will be solidifying protocols surrounding that.
There was a presentation given about start times. This has been an ongoing topic for several years. The AAP and CDC both suggest start times no earlier than 8:30 for adolescents, but MHS start time is 7:20 with a drop off time of 7am. Research indicates that more sleep for adolescents positively affects their overall mental and physical health. MTSD started investigating this for the district in 2017, but it has been tabled several times. There are several concerns with changing start times including sports, daylight and childcare for younger siblings. Other area schools such as Essex, CVU and Burlington all have later start times. A survey will be sent to the community next week. The results will be given to the board next month and a decision will be announced on 11/2.
The discussion mainly centered around the Herrick Ave project forum from the night before. Overall, board members felt that they heard from a different segment of the population that night than they had previously. Some want the project to move forward, but don’t want to do that if the town is not on board. Most felt that more engagement was needed and talked about how to accomplish that. A couple board members felt that starting over might be better. All felt that collaborating with the town and Milton On The Move would be beneficial.
Two policies came to the board for first read. A30 Role and Adoption of School Board Policies and C41 Student Placement. A30 went back to committee. C41 will be adopted at a later meeting.
There were several community comments at the end of the meeting. One comment was about listening to what Don Turner had to say at the forum and that Milton On the Move will explore collaboration. Another community member commented on the cost to taxpayers of the new school build and offered an alternative plan. Another Milton On The Move member wants to collaborate on the project. Last, a community member who is on the project committee and who spoke at the forum said he was disappointed in the original survey data and suggested a threshold of respondents before going forward more and more community engagement is needed.
The next school board meeting will be 10/5.