Milton Stock: School admin

Even as the school year is winding down, the Milton Town School District board is moving ahead with various initiatives and agendas.

Here are 3 things to know from its recent meetings: 

1.  Kira McDonald is the new student representative on the board.

McDonald was introduced at the May 27 board meeting and is a rising senior who is replacing graduating senior Megan Humphrey.

“Your job is basically to be a representative of your fellow students,” Chair Rick Dooley said. “There will be times when we’ll want your insight.”

At each meeting, McDonald will have an opportunity to share her ideas, as well as the concerns of her classmates. The board in turn might recruit McDonald to seek out data or her peers’ feelings about a particular topic.

“We’ll make it as fun as possible,” Dooley said.

2.  MTSD is looking to use COVID relief funding to hire a Director of Operations to better balance district leadership.

Earlier this spring, the school board formed the District Reorganization Committee to answer the question: is the district office appropriately and proportionally structured to meet the changing needs of public education?

After holding several meetings over the last month and a half, the committee has determined no, the district is not structured effectively.

“One of the struggles is that Amy [Rex] wears about 86 hats a day and is literally running everything,” Dooley said during the board’s May 13 meeting.

The committee recommends adding five new positions to the office to provide better balance:

  1. Director of Operations
  2. Lead Nurse
  3. District Home-to-School Liaison
  4. Director of Student Engagement
  5. District Curriculum, Instruction, Data and Assessment Coordinator

The most crucial of these positions is the Director of Operations, board and committee member Jeremy Metcalf said. The Director of Operations would oversee departments like facilities, food service and IT and report directly to the Superintendent.

Over the last year, Rex’s attention to academics has decreased, she said, as the pandemic has forced her to spend more time overseeing operations. Handing some tasks over to a Director of Operations would allow her to spend more time in classrooms and working on community outreach.

“Me and this person [Director of Operations] will still need to collaborate very, very, very closely, because ultimately the oversight is still mine, but at least I’d have someone to work on it with,” Rex said.

Other area school districts already have such a position in their district offices, albeit it might be titled differently.

“We’re actually one of the laggers when it comes to having a position like this,” board and committee member Michael Joseph said.

The school board approved the job description for the Director of Operations and will soon seek applicants.

Funding for its salary will come from either the $3 million MTSD is estimated to receive from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds or the education reserve.

3.  The board will return to in-person meetings beginning in August.

Members will continue to meet via Zoom through the month of July, but will restart in-person meetings in August in the high school library.

Members of the public will still be able to participate remotely, thanks to technology installed by MTSD Technology Supervisor Jonathan Havens.

A camera will film board members in the MHS library, and a screen will show the board members of the community who are participating at home.

“We can have people attend in-person and remotely simultaneously,” Rex said.

Lynne Manley said this hybrid meeting model will eventually also trickle down to each school in the district. Families will soon have the option to attend presentations in-person or remotely.

“This will help people who lack transportation or who might not be able to get to parent-teacher conferences, IEP meetings or 504 presentations,” she said. “[Covid] definitely opened our eyes to the possibilities for how we can use this technology.

Written By

Staff Writer

Bridget Higdon is a Staff Writer. She was previously the editor-in-chief of The Vermont Cynic, UVM's independent newspaper. She’s been published in Seven Days, Editor & Publisher and Vermont Vacation Guide. She likes to cook and explore Vermont by bike.

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