Board meets remotely, reconsiders vice principal
WILMINGTON- Twin Valley School Board members held their regular meeting by public conference call this week, their first under the state of emergency for COVID-10 declared by Gov. Phil Scott.
Superintendent Barbara Anne Komons-Montroll said the supervisory union and the district have been working hard to implement multiple directives that have been handed down by the state since the state of emergency was declared on Friday, March 13. In addition to creating and implementing a plan to provide ongoing education and special needs services to kids who are now learning at home, the schools have also been tasked with providing nutrition services and even child care services for workers essential to the COVID-19 response. Windham Southwest Supervisory Union is delivering food to students’ homes and distributing meals at four schools. Although the initial directive called for a three-week closure of schools, the supervisory union is also developing a plan for providing education through an extended period, if necessary. “It has been a huge undertaking,” Komons-Montroll said. “And people have been giving 110%. I commend all the administrators, teachers, and staff for rising to the cause.”
Komons-Montroll said any employee who is able, may work from home. Some are still working in the facilities, but access to the buildings is strictly controlled. “In terms of people coming into the building, that has been only allowed on the basis of necessity, and that has been monitored by principals. There’s never a lot of people there at one time.”
Komons-Montroll said Twin Valley is not providing child care services for essential workers at this time, but is working to implement a program soon. “We’re still working toward creating a child care program in collaboration with community members,” she said. “We’re planning for it to be at Twin Valley Middle/High School, it’s not in place yet. We’ve been given the directive to hold tight until we can get clarification on how to do this safely.”
Twin Valley School Board Chair Kathy Larsen, principals Rebecca Fillion and Anna Roth, as well as new board members Lesa Trowt and Christy Betit, praised the efforts of WSSU’s COVID-19 response team to implement the changes rapidly. “I think to put it all together and address continued learning and meals, it has come off pretty well,” said Trowt. “My daughter is a freshman and hasn’t missed a beat with her work.”
Betit noted the response in other places has not gone as well as it has at WSSU. “I commend the leadership for doing such an amazing job,” she said. “I have friends in Boston public schools and things there are not going as smoothly. It’s very impressive and I appreciate it.”
Fillion and Roth both commended the work of teachers and staff to implement the changes, and to get resources to students and parents. “It’s an incredible amount of work our teachers have done without a lot of notice,” Roth said. “I’ve had a lot of parents reach out to tell me how appreciative they are that things have gone so smoothly. There are so many people behind the scenes that have done so much.”
In other matters, the board discussed a job description for an assistant principal at Twin Valley Middle School. Currently the school has no assistant principal. Under the previous administrative structure, instituted under former principal Reed Mellinger, the school would have a behavioral support specialist and a dean of student supports. Mellinger resigned in December due to a family emergency.
An assistant principal would be an administrator and instructional leader, Komons-Montroll said. “The assistant principal’s primary responsibility is to help the principal accomplish the goals (the board) has set out for the district.”
Responding to a question from Betit, Komons-Montroll said the difference between the dean’s position and an assistant principal is in the scope of responsibility. “The dean’s role is a lot narrower, focusing on behavioral climate systems, supporting students around their behavior,” she said. “This (proposed assistant principal) would be broader – whatever is needed by the principal to support their goals. It provides a lot more support around fostering an increased capacity for staff to do their best to help students improve their learning. It also includes social and behavioral support.”
Roth said having a second administrator would be a significant help for her, but also for teachers and students.
“There’s a lot of academic gain that needs to be made,” she said. “We also need to address the school climate. Having an assistant principal gives them more of a supervisory role. Supervision and evaluation at the middle high school has not been done at the level it could have been for the last several years. It’s a huge job, and I could use help in that. Someone with an administrative license could help me with that. The school has the potential to be really great, and finding the right person is important.”
Board members discussed whether they could, or should, vote to approve the position and advertise it at the meeting. Ultimately, the board decided to vote on the position at an upcoming meeting, when it could be warned as an action item.