Posted in District Office, General, Other Important Information, Programs

Great News About School Meals Benefits!

Great news! As a result of a recent legislative change (to read an article about it, please click here), beginning with the 2013/2014 school year, students qualifying for reduced-price meal benefits will now receive free lunch as well as the free breakfast benefit traditionally provided to them!

Packed lunched box, with veggie sandwich on whole wheat.

As a reminder, CSD participates in the National School Lunch Program, and because many families often do not realize that they qualify for free or reduced-price meals, we encourage all families to apply. We would like to provide meal benefits to as many families as we can. Because income limits have increased and savings is no longer a disqualification, more Vermonters than ever are eligible for food assistance. Did you know that if you receive the VT Earned Income Tax Credit, Reach Up, or SSI, you are financially eligible for 3Squares VT? And if you qualify for 3SquaresVT, your children are eligible for free meals at school. Most foster children are also eligible for free meals regardless of their guardians’ income. District meals are prepared in compliance with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which requires a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and more (for additional information about it, please click here).

Also, the district’s cashless debit payment system ensures complete anonymity; all students use a personal identification number (PIN) for purchasing meals. In this way, nothing distinguishes those paying full price for meals from those eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

Applications are available in every school and on our website (please click here for the 2013/2014 application form).

Please note: federal guidelines require one application per family, not per child.

Completed applications can be dropped off at our administrative offices at 125 Laker Lane, or they can be mailed to:

Cathy Ward
Colchester School District
P.O. Box 27
Colchester, VT 05446-0027

For questions about the program, or for help completing the form, please contact Cathy Ward at wardc@csdvt.org or call (802) 264-5985. You can also visit the Vermont Department of Education’s website for school nutrition programs or 3SquaresVT’s website. Participation in the program is completely anonymous!

Your schools and your town are working hard to engage our community. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight. When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community!

Posted in Community, General, Other Important Information, Town of Colchester

Jennifer Morrison Sworn In As Chief of Colchester Police Department

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Jennifer Morrison was sworn in as the third chief of the Colchester Police Department in a 12:00 p.m. ceremony on July 29.

Colchester Police Department's Lieutenant Doug Allen swears in Chief Jennifer Morrison at the July 29 ceremony
Colchester Police Department’s Lieutenant Doug Allen swears in Chief Jennifer Morrison at the July 29 ceremony

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The honor guard at the swearing-in ceremony
The honor guard at the swearing-in ceremony

Colchester Selectboard representative Tom Mulcahy and Colchester Town Manager Dawn Francis offered remarks at the ceremony.

“Our incoming chief was chosen because of her strong community ties, her integrity, and her personal investment in the health of Colchester,” Mulcahy said. “I know she is eager to implement her vision for protecting our community in a collaborative effort among police and citizens alike, and we ask everyone to continue to support our police department in its efforts to safeguard all who live and work here.”

Colchester Selectboard member Tom Mulcahy at the swearing-in ceremony
Colchester Selectboard member Tom Mulcahy at the swearing-in ceremony

“In both her professional and personal life, Chief Morrison has exhibited tireless dedication to her community,” Francis said. “She brings to her position a wealth of energy and ideas with which—along with her officers and staff—she will advance the already excellent reputation of the department and its service to the community.”

Colchester Town Manager Dawn Francis at the swearing-in ceremony
Colchester Town Manager Dawn Francis at the swearing-in ceremony

Morrison, who succeeds Chief Charles A. Kirker, was a twenty-three-year veteran of the Burlington Police Department, most recently serving as deputy chief.

Retired Chief Kirker and Town Manager Francis pin stars on Chief Morrison's uniform
Retired Chief Kirker and Town Manager Francis pin stars on Chief Morrison’s uniform
"This is the proudest day of my career. I am honored to wear your uniform and to serve alongside you," Chief Morrison said in her remarks at her swearing-in ceremony.
“This is the proudest day of my career. I am honored to wear your uniform and to serve alongside you,” Chief Morrison said in her remarks at her swearing-in ceremony.

Welcome and congratulations, Chief Morrison!

Your schools and your town are working hard to engage our community. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight. When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community!

Posted in Community, General, Other Important Information, Town of Colchester

Special Meeting on Floodplain Regulations on August 6

Interested in offering feedback on the Colchester Planning Commission’s regulations governing lakefront and floodplain development?

The commission, which hopes to hear how the rebuilding process has worked in Colchester since the 2011 flood, will host a meeting on Tuesday, August 6 at 7:00 p.m. in the Kirker Community Room at the Colchester Police Department, located at 835 Blakely Road. The meeting is open to all, and all citizens are encouraged to attend and share their thoughts.

Flooding at or above 102 feet in elevation is considered a 100-year flood by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). In May 2011, the lake level rose above 103 feet, damaging many lakefront camps and homes. In recovering from the flood, many of the damaged structures were rebuilt, new seawalls were put into place, and many properties and the overall shoreline of Colchester underwent significant changes.

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The Champlain Marina sustained significant damage. Photo courtesy of Denise Johnson-Terk.
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The causeway was devastated by the flooding. Photo courtesy of the Town of Colchester’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The Colchester Planning Commission is responsible for implementing local regulation changes, and it is reaching out to the community to learn whether current regulations are working or if changes should be considered. “I would like to encourage anyone who has concerns or questions regarding the shoreline, whether it be flooding, aesthetics, or development, to attend this meeting. The Colchester Planning Commission has the ability to amend and implement policies regarding our shoreline, and we are very interested in citizens’ input,” said commission chairwoman Pam Loranger.

Those who cannot attend the meeting are encouraged to send correspondence to Sarah Hadd at shadd@colchestervt.gov or by mail:

Colchester Planning Commission
PO Box 55
Colchester, VT 05446

Your schools and your town are working hard to engage our community. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight. When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community!

Posted in Community, General, Other Important Information, Town of Colchester

Selectboard Proposes Exciting New Ideas for Economic Development

The following editorial was signed by the Town of Colchester’s Selectboard and submitted to the Colchester Sun by Chairwoman Nadine Scibek:

“Over the last two months, the Colchester Selectboard has been holding some productive discussions about economic development. There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm building about the future of this community as articulated in the Heritage Plan, the Colchester Selectboard Presentation, and the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017. We have laid the groundwork for economic action plan implementation by including funding in our operating budget; we are recruiting for an economic development director who will work in partnership with the business community and other groups to move the initiatives in the action plan into actions; and we have hired a town manager who has experience in—and will dedicate a significant amount of time to—economic development.

“Town staff will also explore grant opportunities and approach community groups such as the CSD (Colchester School District), CCDC (Colchester Community Development Corporation), and CCI (Community Center Initiative) to provide public input as we conduct the necessary infrastructure studies/engineering plans to move forward with initiatives such as the enhancement of Malletts Bay and future development of the former Hazelett/Bayside property owned by the Town.

“We identified at least six different groups that were working on economic development/infrastructure initiatives in our community—CCDC, CEDAC, CCI, the Bayside Redevelopment Study Group, Fire District #2, and the Recreation Advisory Board. Because we believe we run the risk of operating in silos and having miscommunications or duplicated efforts if we don’t all work together, the selectboard has asked the town manager to approach all of these different groups to determine if missions and scopes of work can be better coordinated to ensure we are working together to achieve the community’s vision.

“We are appreciative of the volunteers who work on making Colchester a superb place to live, work, and play. The community needs citizens to continue to serve in advisory and support capacities to build community trust and political will as ideas are translated into actionable items such as reaching consensus on future direction and vision, securing financing, and preparing final engineering plans for various projects to include a possible community center, sewers/storm-sewer improvements, and other enhancements to the Malletts Bay area. We are hopeful that, by working together, we will achieve our community’s top priorities.”

The Town of Colchester seeks input from a variety of stakeholders; all interested citizens are encouraged to share their perspectives and opinions. It is in this way that we will strengthen our community.

If you would like more information, please e-mail Nadine Scibek, or call the Town of Colchester at (802) 264-5500.

Your schools and your town are working hard to engage our community. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight. When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community!

Posted in Accountability, Colchester Middle School, Community, General, Other Important Information

CMS Introduces New Vision Statement

Colchester Middle School proudly introduces its new collaboratively written vision statement:

“CMS is an inclusive learning community committed to providing engaging, innovative, and rigorous academics while also building ‘TRRFCC’ character in its youth.”

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Completed in June, the vision statement was written by CMS faculty and staff members with input from students and with guidance from CMS’s parent-teacher organization (PTO). Superintendent Waters issued a directive to Principal Dawn Gruss to study the unique features of the school and community; to identify the key strengths and needs at CMS; and to build a system of structures and supports that would make the vision statement a reality. The result was an inclusive process with support from CMS’s assistant principals (Peg Gillard and Dovid Yagoda), the CMS Educational Leadership Team (Aubrey Garrison, Jenn Roberge, Julie Tanguay, Carol Smith, Julie Rutz, and Kara Pawlusiak), and a myriad of community members.

The acronym “TRRFCC” (pronounced “terrific”) stands for trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship; the focus upon these six specific components of character comes directly from the work of the Character Education Partnership (CEP).

CMS created and will implement a developmentally designed teacher advisory (TA) program which will engage faculty and staff in activities and conversations aligning with the vision and the TFFRCC values.

“Vision statements are the inspiring words chosen to clearly and concisely convey the direction of an organization,” Principal Gruss said. “A clear vision statement allows CMS to define and communicate our intentions—motivating our school to realize an inspiring and common vision of the future. Our vision statement lets the community know our purpose and our values. It—like any vision statement—isn’t about where we are right now, in the present moment, but gives us something to actualize. And, with careful planning and progress, it will be fully realized in approximately five years … just in time for another vision statement. Growth, just like learning, is a continual process.”

Principal Gruss said that it is also important to note that character education is not is a canned program. “Building and sustaining a focus on character supports us in meeting key issues facing twenty-first-century learning communities, especially in the areas of academic achievement, academic integrity, bullying prevention, school climate, and service learning,” she said. “As the Colchester community has begun to see, we’re making strides, and we are working in a concerted manner in each of these areas.”

Your schools and your town are working hard to engage our community. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight. When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community!

Posted in Community, District Office, General, Other Important Information

Public Forums to Discuss Proposed Revisions to Regional School Calendar Coming Soon!

As we discussed in our May 23 article, changes to the regional school calendar have been proposed, and the entire Champlain Valley community is urged to weigh in on them.

Calendar

While start times and locations have yet to be determined, the dates for the regional public forums—which will be spread out across Chittenden County—are October 2, October 3, October 9, and October 10.

Under Vermont law, the Champlain Valley Superintendents Association—part of the Vermont Superintendents Association (VSA)—is responsible for establishing a uniform school calendar for the region. The proposed revised calendar, dubbed “Calendar 2.0,” distributes 175 school days over 11 months. For a slideshow about School Calendar 2.0 and to see a .pdf of what the proposed calendar looks like, please click here. To read the Burlington Free Press article about the proposed dates, please click here.

At this time, Colchester School District does not have a formal position on School Calendar 2.0. We encourage our community members to e-mail Superintendent Waters at watersl@csdvt.org to share thoughts and opinions and to ask questions about the proposed calendar. We also encourage our community members to attend a public forum on one or more of the above-mentioned dates to express opinions.

We are listening! Please share your thoughts!

Your schools and your town are working hard to engage our community. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight. When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community!

Posted in Community, General, Malletts Bay School, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan, Wellness

MBS to Pilot Sweets-Free Celebrations in Coming School Year

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Malletts Bay School will pilot a celebration program in the coming school year that involves alternatives to sugary sweets. If the pilot is deemed successful, it may be considered for possible replication in other schools in the district.

Please note! This does not mean that birthdays and other celebrations will not take place! Please read on to learn more about the pilot program.

While there are a host of motivations for the pilot program, the rationale is best distilled into three primary points:

  1. Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017. CSD’s vision and strategic plan includes Pathway F: “Wellness-Oriented, Balanced, and Healthy Learners” in which the district strives “to partner with our community to educate each of our students to become engaged, productive citizens who lead successful, balanced, and healthy lives.” As many as twenty-three birthdays are celebrated in each MBS classroom every year, as well as a variety of other celebrations, resulting in vast quantities of sugary treats throughout the year. The pilot program seeks to better align with the vision and strategic plan’s wellness pathway.
  2. Food allergies and sensitivities. Food allergies and sensitivities in our school community are ever increasing; virtually every classroom has students with such an allergy and/or sensitivity. Despite MBS Nurse Frieberg’s efforts in working with families to provide treats that will not endanger any of our students, potentially problematic treats still routinely arrive at the school. Additionally, a disproportionately large amount of time is taken away from Nurse Frieberg’s primary role of caring for student health as a result of the food safety issue. This pilot program seeks to ameliorate these issues.
  3. Instructional climate. Significant research underscores a very clear link between good nutrition and improved student behavior and academic outcomes. Teaching students about good nutrition and supporting that teaching by modeling healthy practices is an important responsibility.

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As mentioned above, MBS is absolutely not banning birthdays and other celebrations. Rather, school officials are developing alternative ideas that include fun activities to enhance celebratory events. Additionally, staff will work to create a list of healthy food options—including such choices as vegetable trays with hummus or modified fruit salads—that can always be permitted in any classroom.

Fresh assorted vegetables in boxes on farmer's market

To read the June 13 letter to MBS parents about this pilot program, please click here.

MBS also welcomes your ideas! Please share them by calling (802) 264-5900 or by e-mailing Principal Julie Benay (benayj@csdvt.org.)

Your schools and your town are working hard to engage our community and keep everyone informed. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight!

Posted in Accountability, Colchester Middle School, Community, General, Other Important Information

CMS Climate Survey Now Available!

As we mentioned in our July 11 article, Colchester Middle School seeks parent input on a number of important points relating to school climate.

All CMS parents are encouraged to take the survey by August 16. Please click here to get started!

Results from the survey will be important in driving decisions for the school in the future. We’re listening—please let us know what you think!

Teamwork

Your schools and your town are working hard to engage our community. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight. When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community!

Posted in Community, General, Town of Colchester

Looking for an Update on the Mill Pond Road Bridge?

Bridge

Recently, the Town of Colchester received a citizen inquiry regarding the status of the Mill Pond Road bridge work.

Here is a bit of background on the topic.

For the past several years, the Town—as authorized by the voters—has been funding a reserve fund for the bridge project. Specifically, voters are asked to authorized a specific dollar amount to be deposited into the bridge reserve fund each year for a set period of years. Once approved, this amount is incorporated into the Town’s annual budget, and when taxes are collected, that approved amount of money is deposited into the bridge reserve fund.

The overall funding of the Mill Pond Road bridge relies primarily on state and federal funding. These monies are accessed through the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) within a program known as the Town Highway Bridge Program. Here, VTrans manages the overall project and provides 90 percent of the necessary funding from state and federal sources; the remaining 10 percent must be paid by the Town. The Bridge Reserve Fund is used to raise this amount.

Current status

To date, VTrans has completed many of the necessary environmental studies as well as much of the permitting and preliminary engineering for the project. While additional work is needed in right-of-way acquisition and final design, VTrans currently plans to proceed to construction in the 2014—2015 time frame. The estimated total cost of this project is $1.89 million. The Town’s 10 percent share of the project translates to approximately $189,000 … and the current balance in the bridge reserve fund is $189,000. Therefore, the Town does not anticipate the need to continue funding this reserve fund.

For more information, please feel free to contact the Town of Colchester at (802) 264-5500 or the Vermont Agency of Transportation at (802) 828-2657.

We welcome and encourage your dialogue and involvement!

Your schools and your town are working hard to engage our community and keep everyone informed. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight!

Posted in Accountability, Colchester Middle School, Community, General, Other Important Information

Colchester Middle School to Conduct School Climate Survey

Sunflower

As it did last year, Colchester Middle School will soon release a school climate survey to help school officials measure parents’ perceptions about a number of important measures.

The results from this year’s survey—which will go out to parents via Power Announcement and is also expected to be available on the CMS website on July 15—will be analyzed alongside the results from last year’s survey in order to offer an apples-to-apples comparison about how parents feel the school is doing in the following areas:

  • effectiveness in its educational support systems
  • promotion of and motivation for academic success by faculty and staff through rigorous, relevant, and engaging instruction
  • professional culture of respect, including multicultural sensitivity
  • ability to meet the social, emotional, and/or behavioral needs of students
  • approaches to behavioral concerns and challenges
  • effectiveness in encouraging students to become engaged in their community
  • effectiveness in seeking and utilizing parent input and feedback
  • effectiveness in focus upon student wellness
  • technology
  • effectiveness of communications
  • after-school activities
  • effectiveness in addressing of bullying, harassment, and substance abuse issues

The survey was written based upon work by the Institute of Education Science’s Regional Educational Laboratory Program, which partners with school districts, state departments of education, and others to use data and research to improve academic outcomes for students. The overall mission is to provide support for a more evidence-reliant education system. (To read more about the Regional Educational Laboratory Program, please click here.)

CMS officials encourage all CMS parents to participate in the survey by August 15; results from the survey will be important in driving decisions for the school in the future. We’re listening—please let us know what you think!

Your schools and your town are working hard to engage our community and keep everyone informed. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight!