TOWNSHEND, Vermont – After several months of listening to board members, school staff, and community members through online surveys/feedback panels and in-person meetings, the District School Board West River School has identified key themes for lasting change in its district. Since February 2022, the entire Board of Directors participates in monthly meetings dedicated solely to future planning. Meetings are professionally facilitated by Les Edinson of the Collaborative for Educational Services (Northampton, MA).
To effectively investigate the myriad of considerations/opportunities at the primary and secondary levels, the board created two sub-committees; an elementary working group and a secondary working group. Both working groups were made up of community members, school administrators, school staff and board members. Their charge was to investigate and make recommendations for programmatic improvements that align with evidence-based educational practices, provide greater equity, and reflect community aspirations and values. These sub-committees met weekly for six weeks from April to May.
At the long-range planning council meeting on June 6, they presented their findings to council and members of the public. The Elementary Working Group presented the costs/benefits of three different elementary school configurations: 3 schools (status quo), two schools (K-5) in two locations (TBD), and two schools (one K -2, one 3- 5) in two places (to be determined). Their full report is available at www.westrivered.org (Future Planning > Elementary Task Force). The Secondary Task Force reported on existing course options at Leland and Gray, made comparisons of their programs/opportunities to other schools in the area, and reported on the tax impact of the adopting a school choice “tuition” program for grades 9-12. as well as the impact this decision could have on members of the community. Their full report is available at www.westrivered.org (Future Planning > Secondary Working Group).
The council is organizing community meetings/listening sessions to be held at the end of June (in person at two different locations in the district). There will also be an online discussion forum posted on their website to provide access for those unable to attend meetings. These online meetings and forums aim to give the Board strong community feedback so that it can continue to move forward with the voice of the community at the center of its work. Updates on meeting times and locations will be posted on westrivered.org as well as on Facebook and Front Porch Forum.
The West River Education District School Board oversees the operation of Jamaica Village School, NewBrook Elementary School, Leland & Gray Middle/High School, and Townshend Village School. The council is made up of 11 community members from the 5 towns it serves (Brookline, Jamaica, Newfane, Townshend, Windham). The district serves one of the largest geographic areas in the state. The district was formed in 2016 in response to Education Law 46, which strongly encouraged broader school governance. For more information about WRED, please visit www.westrivered.org
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