Washington Central Story
WCUUSD Community Newsletter - February 9, 2024
It seems as though February began and the sun finally came out. I think we forget just how much the dark and cloudy days impact us, especially when the dark is not paired with fluffy white snow, but grey skies, bare trees and tired ground. Watching the sun come up on my way into work and then having the light stream into our windows - well, we forget just how much we miss it.
Were you looking for some learning? February is Black History Month, and you can ask your child what they've been learning in school or check out some of these:
- Something to sing: The Black Joy Experience Songs & Chants
- Things to read: Social Justice Books for Black History Month
- Beautiful art from the ACLU
- Something to watch: Summer of Soul
February also marks the Lunar New Year. The official dates of the holiday vary by culture, but those who celebrate it consider it the time of the year to reunite with immediate and extended family.
Did you know that February 6th through the 10th is Pride In Food Service Week? Now is as good a time as any to thank your local kitchen team for feeding and nurturing our students (and Board members) each day.
This newsletter has some important information about our school budget, which (if you've been listening to the news) is more complex than it usually is this year. Please take the time to read our update here - and be ready for voting season!
- Meagan Roy, Superintendent
In this issue...
- Humanity & Justice - Good Trouble
- School Board Appreciation Month
- Important Budget Updates
- Superintendent Search Information
- Upcoming Board meeting information
Humanity & Justice Corner
Shelley Vermilya, equity scholar in residence
The desire for justice has inspired generations of “angelic troublemakers.” The marches and cooperative efforts demanding change offer us inspiration for our future. Although change wobbles and we have not achieved justice for all, we can learn a lot from those who have gone before us. John Lewis (1940-2020), activist and member of the House of Representatives (1987-2020), had his skull cracked in the 1965 march across the bridge in Selma, Alabama. His eyes sparkled when he talked about his career as one of “Good Trouble.”
Black History Month offers us an opportunity to focus on our African American History. It’s exciting to raise the voices of communities too often not mentioned clearly in textbooks or lost from archives. For instance, the film Rustin is about the man who guided Martin Luther King, Jr. to non-violence and coordinated the 1963 March on Washington for justice and jobs. Bayard Rustin calls for “angelic troublemakers” to make the impossible (arrange a march on Washington, DC in less than two months!) possible. Rustin vanished from public view due to homophobia and racism, so I’m glad his contributions to justice are readily available for all to see.
Another story we don’t know well is about the First Rainbow Coalition. In unlikely solidarity, poor Appalachian folks exiled from West Virginia, Young Lords, and Black Panthers worked peacefully to stop police brutality and organize for fair and safe housing in Chicago in the 1970s. This kind of collaboration between poor southern whites, Puerto Rican and Black activists offers a glimpse into what a small group of very diverse people, harmed and angry about daily injustices, can do. Today we have a commitment to national school free breakfast programs due to the Black Panther’s 10th point in their plan for Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice, and Peace.
Take a look at Revolution In Our Time Black Panther’s Promise to the People by Kekla Magoon (2021).
Welcome in the Year of the Dragon!
School Board Appreciation Month
The WCUUSD Board of Directors (give or take a few - it is hard to get us all in one place at one time!)
Special thanks to:
Flor Diaz Smith (Chair)
Kari Bradley (Vice-Chair)
Joshua Sevits (Board Clerk)
Willow Mashkuri (Student Representative)
Linnea Darrow (Student Representative)
On February 15th at 3:00pm the Vermont House of Representatives will honor School Board members with a resolution read on the House Floor (check out this link to read their words or tune in live on Thursday here).
Important Budget Updates
How we pay for education in Vermont can feel very confusing, even in a "normal" year.
This year, because of a number of factors, school districts across the state are experiencing budget pressures and education spending is up significantly overall. As a result of these factors, along with a new funding law (Act 127) designed to increase educational equity, tax rates are projected to increase significantly. Act 127 had a provision in the law that was meant to give some districts some protection for their taxes by providing a 5% "cap" on tax rates for districts whose taxes increased significantly.
Statewide, all districts in Vermont are now utilizing the cap. This was not meant to happen, and has caused significant increases in projected property taxes across the board. The legislature, concerned about these increases, believes that they must act to repeal the cap and lower property taxes. They have been discussing a new law that would effectively repeal the 5% cap. The new law would allow school districts to cancel their scheduled budget votes and develop new budgets, to be voted on at a later time.
In Washington Central, the budget our Board adopted on January 17th benefited from the 5% cap on the tax rate that was part of the new funding law. Our communities' tax rates (which are already projected to be much higher than in previous years) would be even higher without this protection. But based on the new draft bill being discussed, it is clear that Washington Central would no longer receive the tax rate relief.
Our Board will be closely monitoring the situation in the legislature. If the bill passes, they will need to discuss whether they choose to cancel and re-develop a new budget, or continue with the Town Meeting Day vote. The Board is committed to providing as much information as possible to our communities, as soon as we know it.
From our School Board Chair
To our WCUUSD Community, Staff, Students & Families,
As many of you are aware Superintendent Meagan Roy has announced her departure from WCUUSD at the end of June. We thank Dr. Roy for her stable and calm leadership and the systems she put into place over the last two years. As we look to July 1 and beyond, it is time for the Board to begin the search process for our next WCUUSD Superintendent.
We invite your input. The Superintendent is the only school district employee that we, your elected officials, directly supervise on your behalf. We want to hire someone who is not only highly skilled and capable in the job, but who also shares our community’s values and hopes for our children.
We invite your participation in a few ways:
In the survey found here please share your thoughts on the character, qualities, experience, skills and attributes desired of our next superintendent. We also invite questions you suggest we ask of our applicants. This survey closes on Monday, March 4, 2024.
To assist the Board in the search process we are forming a “Screening and Interview Committee.” This is not a hiring committee; this group will screen paper applications and will organize and undertake first round of semi-finalists’ interviews. The Committee will then forward finalists to the Board for its consideration. The Board has final hiring authority. To learn more about this committee and to volunteer to serve, click here. The deadline for volunteering to serve on the Screening and Interview Committee is noon on Tuesday Feb. 13, 2024. The Board Steering Committee will appoint the Screening and Interview Committee’s membership on Wednesday, Feb. 14.
We hope you can join us in forums scheduled with finalists’ on Wednesday, March 27, 2024. Specific details will follow.
And, please refer worthy candidates to this opportunity. Candidates can learn more about the position and how to apply on our website at wcuusd.org.
This is an important time for WCUUSD and we look forward to your participation in the process of selecting our next Superintendent.
Flor Diaz-Smith, WCUUSD Board Chair
Our new website launched this past December! Check it out when you get a chance, if you haven't already. If you notice anything that needs attention or have suggestions please use the “contact the webmaster” link.
WCUUSD Board Meeting
Our next regular Board meeting is scheduled for February 21st. Check out our website for more information and for the link to join virtually: