ARLINGTON -- A new Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union administrative team was in place as a new school year began in Arlington Wednesday.
The changes started at the top, with the hiring of Karen Gallese to replace Thomas Gallagher as superintendent. Gallese, a former special educator and then principal of Clarksburg (Mass.) Elementary School, began the part-time superintendent position in July. Gallagher retired after two years leading the supervisory union that includes the school districts of Arlington and Sandgate.
Arlington also replaced its special education director earlier this month by hiring longtime Bennington special educator Dawn Campbell. Campbell fills a vacancy left by the resignation of Nancy Mills in February.
BVSU, the smallest supervisory union in the state, is also in the process of increasing the business services it contracts from the neighboring Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union. SVSU began providing financial oversight for SVSU last school year, but with a complete turnover in the BVSU Central Office this summer the supervisory union is now leaning more heavily on the much larger supervisory union based in Bennington.
For the first time at Fisher Elementary, this fall there are two pre-kindergarten classes after the school board voted last year to expand offering public pre-K from 15 students to as many as 30. The school district has also partnered with Happy Days Playschool, allowing families an alternative choice to send their child to the private preschool and have 10 hours each week funded publicly.
This fall is also the first time some fifth grade students will attend class at the middle school, because of the expansion of the school’s accelerated academy. Fifth grade students who are accepted into the advanced program will share classes with sixth grade students at the middle school. Grade 7 and 8 students in accelerated academy are also grouped together. In past years the program had students in grades six through eight in the same classes.
Technology upgrades at Fisher as well as Arlington Memorial Middle and High School also took place this summer. The school board designated $50,000 for additional SMART Boards (interactive whiteboards) in classrooms and new computers.
Although students will not see a change this year, BVSU is still in the process of doing a dissolution study that could potentially send its school districts to a neighboring supervisory union. Independent consultants will analyze at least three options this fall that include maintaining the current governance structure, joining SVSU or joining Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union in Sunderland. A final report with findings and a recommendation must be submitted to the State Board of Education prior to its June 2013 meeting. The school board has been adamant it does not want to lose its supervisory union, but if a change does occur it likely will not be until fall of 2014 at the earliest.
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