Superintendent of Schools Mary Conway was clear on a couple of things regarding her scheduled Monday presentation to the Board of Education regarding potential school restructuring.
It is designed to be informational and is is not within the realm of state school reform initiatives.
"This is something we have been talking about in Vernon, and I will be making a presentation on a request from the Board of Education," she said.
Board of Education Chairman Dean Houle said Conway's presentation is in response to a board request for more information on Feb. 27.
The Board of Education has called a special meeting for Monday at 6 p.m. in the school administration building on School Street.
There are just two items on the agenda:
• A discussion and possible action regarding the health insurance carrier bids.
• A discussion and possible action regarding the structure and organization of the local school system.
Regarding the latter item, Conway said she wants to outline the possibilities for board members, including what a reconfiguration might entail, the cost and logistical matters regarding any changes.
She gave as one example, putting grades together under one roof.
A huge advantage, she said, would be five or so teachers for each grade under one roof, which could foster teamwork.
"Not only would you have five first grades together, for example, but the teachers as well. It would be good for assessments and the teachers would be together always to share ideas."
She said there is a downside to such a move as well.
"A big disadvantage would be potentially losing the buy-in by families," Conway said.
Conway said if anything were to be put on the table, it would be to "improve learning in the classroom."
She said some type of locally imposed reform could be inevitable with five of the seven schools in town not making the grade in terms of federal No Child Left Behind standards. And Center Road School is on notice, which would leave only Lake Street School in good standing if Center Road does not reach the testing standards.
Conway was firm in maintaining that her presentation is designed to bring the board members up to speed. The wording "possible action" is standard for agenda items.
"The board may or may not take any action," she said. "But I want to give the board members all the information on this potential local initiative."
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