Essex Town

Essex Town

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Every Silver Lining’s Got a Touch of Grey

Mindset rules - If you believe it- it will happen! I can’t see the full picture yet but I know great things are in the future for kids when Essex Town and Chittenden Central become one.

The work underway is not quite breakneck but, the work associated with merging with Chittenden Central has directed much of my energy to ensure that the unification process is seamless and focused on what’s best for students PK-12.

The UU School Board is hard at work. Their work plan is taking shape with a focus on several key bodies of work:
  • FY 18 Budget Development 
  • Policy Development 
  • Superintendent Search Process 
  • Contract Negotiations 
  • Community Engagement 
That’s board work, but what about the stuff going on inside? Merging Finance Systems, Payroll Systems, Student Information Systems, Staff Professional Growth Systems, Curriculum Alignment, Local Assessment Plans, Building and Grounds, School Bus Transportation, IT Infrastructure and the list goes on!

The internal work facilitated by Judy and I, can be dropped into three buckets: What has to happen by 7/1/17, what would be great if it did happen by 7/1/17, and what is a good idea but not mission critical. Clearly, number 1, is getting a new Finance and HR system on-line and an IT infrastructure in place that supports it. A team of Essex Town and Chittenden Central staff are hard at work with that end in mind, comparing existing systems and considering alternatives as well.

Essex Town and Chittenden Central District and School based Leaders are in the beginning stages of exploring how best to approach redefining common purpose and how we can effectively re-shape and merge our two leadership structures. Although our current structures are different, our definition of student success is clearly aligned. And we all agree, without effective leadership, traction is slippery at best!

The following link provides access to the UU Board’s Blog: Although in its infancy, this site provides useful information concerning the work underway at the board level.

With the future in mind,


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This is one of the most famous Chinese proverbs, used by leaders of organizations embarking on major initiatives. You may plan and dream all you want about a long journey, but you have to begin somewhere. We may have a grandiose vision or plan for change, but the first step is crucial – getting started!

The EWSD School Board has begun their journey toward a successful merger with our sister district and the level of activity is increasing exponentially. After two board retreats and their first official board meeting on April 5th, the work over the next 15 months has begun to take form. The headliners include: Public Engagement, Policy Development, 2017 – 2018 Budget Development, Board Professional Growth, Labor Agreements and Superintendent Recruitment.

Judy DeNova and I are facilitating several bodies of work which reflect outcomes we must achieve by 7/1/17 including school board organization and development, implementing a new Student Information System, Human Resource and Financial Planning/Monitoring System, Merging Technology Infrastructure, Public Engagement through the Nellie Mae Grant, and forging a new leadership structure and culture between district and school based administrators.

Dan French, Project Manager, has met with Judy and me on two recent occasions to begin framing the multitude of projects we’re engaged in with a goal of ensuring system coherence and a laser focus on student achievement and organizational efficiencies.

Thinking about the journey ahead and what our first steps should be, I’m reassured knowing that we are on this journey together. Initially, it’s not the “how” we do our work that’s most important - rather- it’s understanding “why” the creation of a unified PK-12 system makes sense for kids.

With the future in mind,