TRSU developing summer educational programming for recovery help

LUDLOW, Vt. – At their April 1 board meeting, the Two Rivers Supervisory Union Board updated board assignments, acknowledged several new hires within the district, and learned about upcoming summer educational programming to help in student recovery.

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Board member Paul Orzechowski was elected chairman and Joe Fromberger was elected vice chair as the meeting commenced. The rest of the board makeup remained unchanged with Rick Alexander, Dan Buckley, David Venter, and Wayne Wheelock all continuing to serve.

TRSU Superintendent Lauren Fierman announced the appointment of Todd Parah as district-wide Director of Building Grounds and Security. This new position, funded through the TRSU, received some pushback during budgeting season. Fierman praised Parah saying how pleased the TRSU was “to be able to put somebody so qualified into this newly created position.” Parah is currently Director of Athletics, Facilities, and Transportation at Green Mountain Unified High School.

The TRSU has hired a part-time reading specialist, Susan Mortdecai, to help with reading struggles at the Green Mountain Middle School. Funding for the position is available through existing grants.

The board approved an additional $2,000 stipend for TRSU Finance Director Cheryl Hammond for extra work she has undertaken as they struggle to find someone to fill the payroll position.

The board received a resignation letter from Ludlow Elementary School Special Educator Kristine LeFevre, who has resigned because her family has relocated several hours away. They accepted the letter “with regret.”

Fierman updated the board on education vaccinations within the district. Of the responders to an internal survey, 90% of district educators had already been vaccinated or were scheduled for their appointment.

Fierman was anticipating that the Agency of Education would approve the three-foot spacing for grades K-12, which they did the following day. Schools in the district will modify classroom spacing accordingly.

Although more students have continued to return to more in-person instruction, both Fierman and CAES/CTES Principal Katharine Fogg both agree that not all students will return before the end of the year. Those who have returned have been helped through the transition back through their “level of pleasure being around their peers,” Fierman said.

New ESSER funds, three federal grant funds established as part of the Education Stabilization Fund in the CARES Act is providing $4,459,027 to the district for projects and programs that will help with student “recovery” as they transition back from the educational upheaval experienced due to the pandemic.

TRSU Curriculum Director Anne Gardner is leading the development of a summer program called SAGE – Social, Emotional & Academic Growth through Engagement. To date, the recovery team is in place and the development of a needs assessment plan is underway and will be submitted to the Vermont Agency of Education by April 15. Gardner will continue to meet with the AOE weekly as planning continues.

According to Gardner, implementation of the program is anticipated June 1, providing enhanced school support and then during the summer for four to six weeks for grades K-12, offering both morning and afternoon programming.

Morning programming will focus on academic skills and collaborative environments and afternoon programming will provide for team building, social emotional building, healthy activity, and individual projects. The TRSU will also tie proficiencies that students need to complete into their work. Programming will span for four years with stages of funding committed throughout. Garner will provide ongoing updates as the program takes shape.

The next TRSU meeting is scheduled for May 6 at 6 p.m. via Zoom and in the professional development room at Ludlow Elementary School.

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