LMHUUSD greenlights “Portrait of a Graduate” program

At their April 13 meeting, the LMHUUSD agreed to move forward with a program called, “Portrait of a Graduate.” Photo provided

LUDLOW, Vt. – During their April 13 meeting, the Ludlow Mount Holly Unified Union School District board agreed to move forward with a program called, “Portrait of a Graduate,” presented by Jeff Korchinski from the nonprofit, “Battelle for Kids.” The program guides education leaders and community members to jointly “re-envision and transform their school systems” and would be paid for by ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) funds.

Two Rivers Supervisory Union Superintendent Lauren Fierman will now present the same program to the Green Mountain Unified School District board at their meeting this week in hopes of convincing them to embrace the same program in order to implement the district-wide initiative, creating a “Portrait of Graduate” for the whole TRSU. The program would cost approximately $37,000 in ESSER funding.

Fierman learned of the program and heard glowing reviews of its effectiveness from nearby superintendents at Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union and Windsor Central Supervisory Union who highly praised the program.

According to Korchinski, BFK members would facilitate the five-month, district-wide process, helping the district engage a large group of stakeholders including educators, students, parents, community members, business leaders, board members, administration, and those of different religious and cultural backgrounds. These participants, who would be known as a “design team” would then meet four times over the course of several months to establish a vision, articulate priorities, align the organization, and build momentum and coherence, all to “prepare students to be effective and accountable and responsible citizens in our communities.” That initial work could eventually lead to a strategic plan and three to five-year roadmap for implementation.

Korchinski said that each district’s goals are unique and that their company doesn’t get involved in regulating and devising any particular outcome; instead, they help build a foundation of support and trust among all the stakeholders. He said the tougher work comes after the vision is created, but with the larger group support, decisions can then be made on how to allocate resources, and what things might need to be adjusted or shifted.

Once complete, BFK provides access to their network, providing opportunities to collaborate with other school districts that are in various stages of implementing changes, and learning from their challenges and successes.

If Fierman receives support from the GMUSD board, she will then work with Korchinski to schedule the program in the coming months.

Two candidates for the LMHUUSD vacant three-year board seat were being considered and both spoke to the board: Jamie Wilson and Maria Gambino. The board voted twice, both times ending a tie with two board members voting for each candidate and one abstaining. Another two board members, Sebastian Frank and Judith Pullinen, were absent. The board subsequently decided to table another vote until their next meeting when the full board might be present.

The board also postponed assigning two LMHUUSD board members to the newly forming, dual-district Professional Development Committee until all board members were present next month. The agreement to form this joint district committee resulted from the recent vote to align all district school schedules, effectively eliminating the half-day Tuesday with embedded professional development time that Cavendish had employed for decades. Both boards agreed to form the joint committee to seek new options for district-wide professional development for teachers.

According to LMHUUSD board chair Paul Orzechowski, he and GMUSD board chair Joe Fromberger agreed that the committee would include two board members from each of the two district, one teacher from each school in the five districts, and one parent from each of the two districts for a total of 11 board members. Fierman reminded the board that this group was an advisory committee that would make recommendations to the boards, not decide policy.

District principals, LES Principal Cathy Farman and Mount Holly Principal Craig Hutt Vater, presented the results from a survey they distributed to Pre-K parents with the idea of making some changes to the Pre-K program.

The survey asked questions about Pre-K participation in aftercare; if parents were open to Pre-K placement in the other school; and if they be interested in five-day or three-days for their four-year-old.

Seven families answered the LES survey: three preferred the five-day option; one was interested in extending aftercare from 2 to 4 p.m.; and none considered placement in Mount Holly. LES parents were additionally asked if they would still enroll if the day were extended but transportation not provided and five of the seven said no, they would need transportation.

11 families responded to the Mount Holly Pre-K survey: none preferred the five-day model and two preferred a three-day model; nine said they would likely use aftercare; and three were open to placement in Ludlow.

Based on these results, LES will keep their current program with no changes, and MHS will launch a pilot program next year, for five-days per week for four-year-olds. They will also allow Ludlow families to participate if interested.

The last day of school is Monday, June 20 for students and Tuesday, June 21 for teachers.

The LMHUUSD Annual School District Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 11 from 6 – 6:30 p.m. at Ludlow Elementary School, with their regular monthly meeting immediately following.


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