SHAFTSBURY -- The Shaftsbury School Board met on Wednesday and discussed a number of topics, including proposed parking lot expansion and the implementation of the GoMath! program in Shaftsbury.
Principal Jeffrey Johnson reported to the board that the school hopes to expand its parking lot by 15-20 spaces sometime this year. He did note that the school was waiting on the completion of its current water line project, to ensure that funds would be available for the parking lot. "It’s going to be a great safety relief," he said.
Currently, during student drop-off and pick-up times, the lot can become congested with buses and parents waiting for their children. Select board chairman Tim Scoggins, who was in the audience, said the town would support this project, as currently parents frequently park in the fire house parking lot, because the school lot is full, despite signs asking them not to.
"It’s a pretty big project, and it’s going to be well planned," board member Larry Johnson informed the rest of the board. Besides 15-20 new parking spaces, the project would also include a net or fence near the basketball court to prevent basketballs from bouncing into an adjacent property. The new parking area would feature gravel topcoating for now, although Jeffrey Johnson said the school may pave it later.
Assistant Superintendent Donna Leep informed the board that new math materials associated with the GoMath! program, which the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union board voted to adopt last month, have already begun to arrive. A staff development day has been scheduled in June for teachers from all the elementary schools within the SU and the middle school to learn to use the new materials.
"The first experience will be to look at the materials and see how they relate to the common core at each grade level," said Leep. Presentors from GoMath! will be present to assist the teachers. "It’s exciting, but it’s also a little bit scary," she said, "becuase there’s so much to take in."
Larry Johnson said that he "was surprised to see Shaftsbury teachers give it their endorsement, which was a big point in selling me." Johnson, who is one of Shaftsbury’s representatives on the SVSU board, asked the math teachers presenting on the project at last month’s SVSU meeting if they thought GoMath! was the best fit for the SU, ignoring any considerations of the common core. They answered with an emphatic yes.
"This was not a light decision," said Leep, "It was something that the teachers have really come together and studied."
Johnson also updated the board on the district’s attempt to take back students from Shaftsbury District 1, who have traditionally attended school in North Bennington. Johnson attended the last meeting of the North Bennington Prudential Committee, and told the board what was said there regarding the issue. "The discussion was brief," said Johnson, "Mostly they were concerned that we had not kept them informed of what was going on on our end. I don’t know what else we could do. We’ve invited them to come to our meetings." Johnson said the prudential committee is looking to compile statistics on what the effects of the change on their school and tax rate would be.
Shaftsbury state Representative Alice Miller was also in attendence for the meeting, and explained to the board members why she voted against the legislation to consolidate Vermont’s school districts from around 270 to between 45 and 55, and measure that was not passed before the end of the legislative session last Saturday. "It felt more to me like school board elimination rather than consolidation, and that didn’t sit right with me," said Miller, who voiced support for local control over schools. She did warn the school board that the legislation will return during the next session. "The problem has not gone away," she said.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB