Essex Town

Essex Town

Monday, March 21, 2016

What it Means to Serve Your Community

In my opinion, school board membership is among the highest forms of public service. It requires a commitment of time and energy, thoughtful planning and strategic engagement with a variety of stakeholder groups.
School board members serve their communities for many reasons. The common thread that unifies board members in service is the commitment to providing an equitable and excellent education to all students at a cost that is reasonable to taxpayers. This is the case for the new Unified Union (UU) Board who has begun their work transitioning 5 individual boards into one governance structure.
The UU board, (I haven’t settled on a proper/shorter title yet) consists of 10 members; 4 from Essex Town, 4 from Essex Junction and 2 from Westford.
The board held their second retreat on Monday evening, March 14th. The retreat had two purposes: First, the board wanted to continue to develop and refine a set of dependable and constant ideals to guide their decision making in all aspects of their work now and in the future. These ideals will be further developed when the board engages teachers, students, parents and community members in the ensuing months.
The second purpose of the retreat was to conduct several pieces of official business including when the board will meet, how agendas will be developed and how the board plans on monitoring transition activities.
Lastly, under official business, the board approved contracting with an external Project Manager whose primary responsibilities will be oversight of the multitude of activities related to the merger transition. Having a Project Manager in place will ensure that all the puzzle pieces touch! Dr. Daniel French is currently a practicing Superintendent in Southern VT. He has made the decision to resign in June after serving as a VT Superintendent for 12 years. He will begin writing the next chapter of his career as the Coordinator of the School Leadership Program at Saint Michael’s College beginning 7/1/16. Dan has been contracted for 20 days for the remainder of the 15-16 school year. The AOE transition grant will cover all costs associated with his service.
Look forward to meeting Dan, in passing, when he joins me on a tour of ETSD in the afternoon of March 30th.
With the future in mind,

Mark

Friday, March 11, 2016

Towards Successful Unification: Focusing Direction, Cultivating Collaborative Cultures, Securing Accountability and Deepening Learning

Imagine you met a remarkable person who could look at the sun or stars at any time of the day and state the exact time. This person would be considered an amazing time teller, and we’d probably revere that person for the ability to tell time. But wouldn’t that person be even more amazing if, instead of telling the time, he or she built a clock that could tell the time forever, even after he or she was dead and gone? (Adapted from the book, Built to Last, Collins)

As we move forward with designing and implementing a plan to join together with schools in Essex Junction and Westford, I will remain resolute in viewing the merger transition in its totality rather than as separate bodies of work.  Knocking off one item at a time without thoroughly making sense of how it relates to the bigger picture is “time telling.” Designing a new modern PK-12 school system that will continue to prosper way beyond one single leader’s tenure is “clock building.”

Two Roads Converge is a blog that’s been created in an effort to keep ETSD staff in the loop concerning transition activities and milestones reached over the next 15 or so months. As the primary blogger, I’m committed to posting information, without too much commentary, that illustrates the work underway and in some cases sharing the interesting complexities in merging two separate school organizations.

I’m approaching the unification with CCSU as an opportunity to transform our educational system in Essex Vermont by designing an exceptional and well-articulated plan that places students at the center of all decisions while at the same time engaging the public and respective faculties throughout the process.

Although some weeks will be short on content, I’ll try my best to post useful information on a regular basis based on activity at the board, central office and community level.

The new Unified Union (UU) Board will be attending part II of their retreat on Monday evening, March 14th. Until a new UU Website has been designed, agendas and minutes of board meetings will be located on both the ETSD and CCSU websites.

With the future in mind,

Mark