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Newsletters • Saturday, January 10th
South Hero School Board
January 2015 Newsletter

Winter has arrived in the Islands and the cold weather is upon us. Our newly sided building with it's increased insulation is snugger than ever. The standing water that we always saw around the foundation of our building this time of year is now a thing of the past thanks to the newly installed drainage system. The board is grateful for the town's support in getting these issues addressed.

Those of us who attended the winter concert were treated to quite a show. We always feel fortunate to live in a community where folks who no longer have students at Folsom still come out to support the kids and enjoy our little town's sense of community.

We are happy to report that the last piece to the building project, the new marquee, has been ordered and will hopefully be in place by the end of January. The bottle box location is proving to be challenging with the snow, so we are excited to get this last item completed!

We are saddened to share the news of the loss of our GISU project manager, George Nelson, who recently passed away. In large part, it was due to his dedication and hard work that our building project went so quickly and smoothly. It seemed there was never a question he couldn’t answer. He has been an incredible asset to the supervisory union and the South Hero School District since 1994 and will be greatly missed.

One topic the board has focused on this year is that of school safety and building security. The state Agency of Education and other public safety organizations are working to support schools as they think about their own local security issues. The School Safety Initiative on the AOE website states, "While much attention has been directed at the most recent violent acts that have taken place in schools across America, we must continually remind ourselves that an all hazards approach to crisis response planning is where we should be concentrating our efforts. Emergency medical issues, bomb threats, child custody issues, school bus accidents, and fights in schools are more likely to be experienced than targeted acts of violence like an active shooter. Maintaining an all hazards crisis response plan, communicating with local emergency first responders, implementing well thought out school safety initiatives, and facilitating a school climate that is welcoming and accepting of all students will serve us all well in our collective desire to keeping our children safe in our schools."

One aspect of the security issue that the board is working on is the interaction between the school and the community library. The school is blessed to have such a great resource readily available for our students but the security considerations for a school and a library differ. The mission of a public library is to allow access to anyone who chooses to enter. The school, on the other hand, is required by law to have any volunteer go through a fingerprinting and criminal background check before being able to spend time in the building while students are present. We are currently exploring options and gathering information about how we can best reconcile the needs of both the school and the library. Once budget season is behind us, we will continue to work to address this issue, gathering input from professionals in the field of security as well as the input of our local community. We welcome community input, and if you ever have any questions about school board initiatives or thinking, please feel free to contact a board member or attend a meeting and get the information you need from the source.

Another sure sign of winter for school boards is the arrival of school budget planning time. The South Hero School Board is busy preparing the budget for the 2015/2016 school year. It is an interesting process, made more challenging by the fact that it is based in part on prediction, as the actual figures around some line items are not made available until much later in the fiscal year. Another issue that challenges us as a board, is the fact that many of the costs of providing public education fall outside of the realm of the control of the local boards. Issues like state and federal contributions to funding (which are constantly being cut back), contract bound benefits and salaries, high school tuition rates, and the rising costs of services to support the physical plant are among the list of the factors that determine the cost of running a school over which a local board has little or no control. This makes the work of trying to control spending while maintaining Folsom's excellent standard of education a challenge for those of us charged with the job! We will strive to present you with a budget that is fiscally responsible while supporting the excellent quality of education students receive at Folsom. The South Hero School Board is always thankful for the support of the South Hero voters at budget time.

Our board meets on the first and third Thursdays of every month at 6:00 in the upper room of the older brick section of our building (The large 7/8 classroom). We are always happy to have members of the community attend our meetings, and welcome your input into this process. We also have an email address if you would like to share your thoughts that way, and you can watch our meetings on LCATV’s cable channel or on their website.

Posted by on 2015-01-10

Bishop,  Mike Folsom School Board Member
Bowser,  Kristina Folsom School Board Chair
Cain,  Dave Folsom School Board Member
Sweeney,  RJ Folsom School Board Member
Toth,  Bernadette Folsom School Board Member

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