Top Bar

2021 Report From the School Directors

After an unusual and exceptionally challenging 2020-21 school year, students and staff are excited to be back together in person for the 2021-22 year. The joyful sounds of learning fill the halls of CES each day. Things are becoming more “normal”, but as with all aspects of society, Covid-19 continues to dominate everything about our educational system. From a school board perspective, this year it affected staffing, taxes and safety.

Staffing CES with the best talent is an annual challenge. Unfortunately, the change in the employment landscape during the pandemic did not exempt schools. As with the rest of the job market, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract good applicants for some positions at CES. Positions such as paraeducators, bus drivers and substitutes are harder to fill. This year we’ve faced staffing shortages in areas such as transportation and individual instruction. It’s painful for everyone involved, from
those impacted to those managing limited resources to those working on solutions. From the solution side, it’s been a team effort between the administration, central office and school board. There’s no easy, instant fix to this universal market change, but creative action is moving us toward full staffing while we adjust for long-term success.

Just when you thought Vermont’s education funding system couldn’t get more convoluted, along comes Covid. Many of the traditional variables in the equation have been difficult to forecast this year. For a quick refresher, watch this excellent video explaining education funding: One-time revenues at the state level, changing equalized pupil counts and wildly fluctuating property values are just some of the current influencers on state funding. Fortunately, we’re benefitting from some prudent facility work and staffing adjustments over the past few years that put expenses in an advantageous position going into next year. The bottom line result is a $0.07 per $100 decrease in the homestead tax rate.

Last summer the State of Emergency in Vermont was lifted, and along with it the Covid safety protocols directed by the Agency of Education. The AoE continued to issue guidance, but decision making for health safety fell to local school boards and administrators. Unfortunately, school staff, administrators and boards now bear the brunt of public discontent in this deeply politicized issue. It should not be about politics from any direction, but rather about most effectively protecting the health
of students and staff, so they can continue learning together at CES in a safe environment. The Board appreciates the support from community members who share this vision.

Before closing, I would like to recognize of two former members of the CES Board of Directors - Bernie Juskiewicz (1996-2000) and Heather Sheppard (2008-2010). Both are casualties of Covid-19, and for those of us on the Board they are a reminder how prudent we must be regarding the health and wellness of CES and the greater community. We honor their service to CES.

Respectfully Submitted,
Mark Stebbins
Chair, CES Board of Directors