Heard it at School
Pioneering merged union defines principles
A pioneering school consolidation in southern Vermont called the Two Rivers Supervisory Union (TRSU) recently laid out its principles and appointed its top leaders, with official operation to start July 1, 2013.
The union is a consolidation of school administrative powers, combining the Rutland-Windsor Supervisory Union in Ludlow with Chester’s Windsor Southwest Supervisory Union, and approved by voters.
Its goal is to more effectively share services in the time of a financial crisis when some taxpayers from small, rural towns in the union, like Cavendish, are struggling to make ends meet while facing education tax hikes in the double digits.
The progress made by the merged union so far has received acclaim from Stephen Dale, head of the Vermont School Boards Association.
At a recent meeting of the union’s Transition Board, Dale said “it is impressive what the board has accomplished so far: name, leadership, staffing, budget, policies, etc... that it feels that the board is becoming one even though they are still in transition; and they are staying with the notion that this entire process is to be able to give the students the best education possible.”
The next meeting of the Transition Board is scheduled for Dec. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester.
Within that board policy, finance and facility committees have been formed.
The TRSU board principles have been adopted and are as follows:
The new SU organization will be sized to allow efficient, individual operation of the schools and allow increased potential for improved student opportunities.
The new SU will promote efficient fiscal operation.
The new SU will provide opportunities for closing achievement gaps — socioeconomic, gender, etc.
The new SU will provide greater equity of opportunity for students across the communities.
The new SU will have the potential to provide increased learning opportunities for all members of the student population.
The new SU will have the ability to share across schools best practices, professional development, etc.
Administrative positions have also been assigned.
Bruce Williams will be the new TRSU superintendent through June 2014 and Linda Waite will be associate superintendent.
“To help ensure successful implementation and the greatest stability for our educational institutions, during the 2013-14 school year they will work as a team sharing duties of the central office based on their strengths and interests,” explained Transition Board co-chairs Bob Herbst and Allison DesLauriers.
Other positions have been offered to Mary Barton as director of special education, Lauren Baker as director of information technology and instructional integration, and Chris Adams as director of finance.
The appointments will become effective July 1, 2013.
The TRSU Transition Board is now working on budget preparation and staff structure and consists of 23 board members from all six schools.
For more information on the new Two Rivers union, go to www.rwsu.net.
Rutland to debate
Budget deliberations on a Rutland school budget that’s shot up 5.7 percent compared to the last fiscal year will start Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Longfellow administrative building on Church Street.
The budget proposed cutting four positions at the elementary level to save $240,000 but adding nearly half a million in new technology and services for students.
Also on the agenda is the finalization of the Rutland High School offerings for the coming year, called the Program of Studies, and the ratification of the Stafford Technical Center budget, a $4.3 million part of the overall city school budget of $47 million for fiscal year 2014.
Stafford’s budget is up 7.8 percent, or $315,165, from the current year’s spending plan.
If that plan is approved Tuesday night, tuition rates to towns that send their students to Stafford is projected to go up 7 percent, or $815 per student, from $11,620 per student this year to $12,435 per student next year.
Stafford Director Lyle Jepson said the largest increase in the proposed $4,360,385 budget is for instructional programs, which is a large part of the total $315,165 increase compared to the current year’s budget of $4,045,220.
Part of that increase is an additional $74,000 for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) development program.
This will be Cristina Kumka’s last Heard it at School column for the Rutland Herald. To publish your school news, please email all entries to Managing Editor Alan Keays at email@example.com.