Vermont School Boards Association From the Boardroom Newsletter

Teacher Contract Negotiations
Workshop Opportunities

These workshops will be facilitated by a former VT-NEA UniServ Director, who has successfully negotiated scores of union contracts, managed numerous labor disputes and strikes, and who now provides labor relations consulting services to public sector management. 

Session 1: Bringing Balance to the Bargaining Table Due to the overwhelming attendance, the VSBA is again offering school board negotiators a unique and practical training opportunity. This is an intensive, six-hour training (9:00am-3:30pm). The price will be $50 per person (billed to the supervisory union). Lunch is included.

Session 2: Handling a Negotiation Crisis These workshops will be facilitated by a former VT-NEA UniServ Director, who has successfully negotiated scores of union contracts, managed numerous labor disputes and strikes, and who now provides labor relations consulting services to public sector management. This three and a half hour workshop builds upon the fi rst session given in the fall on the above dates. The price will be $35 per person (billed to the supervisory union). Light refreshments are included.

More information...
  1. School Boards Have Never Been More Important: The Passage of Act 46
  2. No Substitute for 
    Dynamic Leadership
  3. Shaping Our Future Together Communicating 
    School Redesign
  4. How Boards Should Approach 
    Negotiating Health Care
  5. Superintendent Evaluation Services
  6. Why We Need To Update the Fact Finding Process
  7. The Education Landscape: 
    The Common Core State Standards, 
    Vt Education Quality Standards and Reviews, and Act 77: Flexible Pathways
  8. 2015 VSBA Resolutions Request
  9. VSBA Leadership Award Nominations
  10. Rivendell Interstate School District: 
    Four Towns, One Community
  11. VSBA / VSA Annual Conference
    October 22 & 23, 2015
  12. VSBA Regional Meetings
  13. Model Solar Agreement Available if School Districts Choose to "Go Solar"

School Boards Have Never Been More Important: The Passage of Act 46

The legislative session is now complete and the work is just beginning. H.361 passed the legislature in mid-May and was signed into law as Act 46 by Governor Shumlin on June 2, 2015. The new law will prompt conversation throughout Vermont about the future of education for our children, the best way to achieve effi ciencies, and the best way to confi gure governance of our schools.

No Substitute for Dynamic Leadership

School boards provide critical local leadership for education in our communities. Board members set high level vision and policy, assure adequate resources, and monitor the overall performance of the district and its finances. The actual delivery of a great education at a reasonable cost is carried out by a Superintendent and excellent principals, teachers, and staff. Good systems matter, but there is no substitute for strong leaders.

Shaping Our Future Together School Redesign

As the VSBA continues to support and promote youth voice in education and governance, we want to make our members aware of this extraordinary opportunity to work on a school based youth/adult team.

For the 2015–16 academic year, three to five Vermont schools will be selected to participate in a credit bearing course to guide them in their efforts to introduce both personalized learning and proficiency-based learning to all stakeholder groups in their community.

How Boards Should Approach Negotiating Health Care

On April 27th, the VEHI board decided that effective June 30, 2017, VEHI will replace their current health care plans with non-grandfathered, ACA-compliant plans designed to avoid the federal excise tax. In addition, Act 46 of 2015 directs the Director of Health Care Reform to explore options for providing health care coverage to school employees in a cost effective manner that will not trigger the excise tax. These options will likely include requiring school districts to offer insurance coverage through Vermont Health Connect or creating a statewide public employee health pool.

Superintendent Evaluation Services

An effective evaluation provides the board and superintendent with data to measure performance and inform decisions. It enables both the board and the superintendent to continually improve their efforts.

Why We Need To Update the Fact Finding Process

School boards across Vermont are striving to contain and reduce spending while continuing to provide excellent educational opportunities for their students. The General Assembly sent a clear message that spending must be contained when they passed the cost-containment provisions of Act 46. Yet 80% of school spending is dominated by personnel costs namely, salaries and benefits which are determined through the collective bargaining process.

The Education Landscape:
The Common Core State Standards,
Vt Education Quality Standards and Reviews, and Act 77: Flexible Pathways

Since the passage of Act 77 in 2013, when we dedicated ourselves to personalizing the learning experience for every student, we have added the 2014 Education Quality Standards (EQS) which describe the standards - outcomes we expect for all students - approved by the State Board of Education. Under EQS, “each supervisory union board shall ensure the written and delivered curriculum within their supervisory union is aligned with the standards, and each school shall enable students to engage annually in rigorous, relevant and comprehensive learning opportunities that allows them to demonstrate proficiency in the following.

2015 VSBA Resolutions Request

One way your association determines its positions on public policy issues is through a process of developing, considering, and adopting resolutions. The process is described in the VSBA by-laws which can be found on the VSBA website.  It involves proposals coming from local boards, vetting by a Resolutions Committee, and then a vote at the annual meeting, scheduled this year for October 22.
We encourage all boards to consider proposing draft resolutions that reflect your board's views on any topic. It may help to look at the list of current resolutions on the VSBA website to give you an idea of what has been adopted in the past. Several proposals were made late last year and are being carried over for consideration this year.

VSBA Leadership Award Nominations

The Vermont School Boards Association is pleased to announce that it is seeking nominations for its Award for Exceptional School Board Leadership.
Vermont has nearly 300 elected boards that oversee the system of public education. The Award for Exceptional Board Leadership recognizes the contributions of a particular board. It is also a way to recognize all of the hard work done by citizen representatives who serve throughout the state.

Rivendell Interstate School District: 
Four Towns, One Community

At a time when joint ventures and mergers are being strongly encouraged and/or required in many areas of Vermont, it is helpful to get some perspective on efforts which have occurred previously and have brought great success to Vermont's children and communities.
The Rivendell Interstate School District was established by voters on October 13, 1998 to pool financial and human resources and create a district to unite three towns in Vermont (Fairlee, Vershire, and West Fairlee) and one in New Hampshire (Orford). On July 1, 2000, Rivendell assumed educational responsibility for all students in the four towns and ownership of the existing school properties. On Monday, August 28, 2000, Rivendell opened its doors to approximately 550 students from member towns and about 32 students from neighboring towns.

VSBA / VSA Annual Conference
October 22 & 23, 2015

Mark your calendars! The annual VSBA/VSA Conference will be held on October 22nd and 23rd at the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, VT. The focus this year will be a celebration of public education and the promise it holds for ensuring that the futures of all Vermont children are driven by their aspirations, not bound by their circumstances.

VSBA Regional Meetings

The Vermont School Boards Association holds regional meetings for its members each fall. The purpose is to conduct the business of the statewide association as well as to provide information and board development opportunities to school board members throughout the state. This year will feature discussions with Secretary Holcombe regarding implementation of Act 46.


Model Solar Agreement Available if School Districts Choose to "Go Solar"

Solar power can offer many benefits to school districts such as reducing energy costs, stabilizing and predicting energy expenses and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Options are available for school districts to obtain their energy from solar sources through net-metering agreements with a third party. Entering into long-term net-metering arrangements with third-party solar developers can be a complex endeavor, and one that poses certain risks to school districts. In partnership with VSBIT, the VSBA worked with the League of Cities and Towns and others to develop a Template for Group Net Metering Agreements in order to help municipalities and school districts take advantage of these benefits while minimizing the risks.

Editor: Harry Frank
Layout: Kerri Lamb

Articles printed represent diverse points of view and may be controversial in nature. It is the belief of the Association that the democratic process functions best through discussions which challenge and stimulate thinking on the part of the reader. Therefore, materials published present the ideas/beliefs of those who write them and are not necessarily the views or policies of the VSBA unless so stated. This newsletter is distributed at no charge to all members of the Association. Contact the Association by calling 800-244-8733.