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Handouts distributed by speakers are linked below Underlined red titles links to handouts
Underlined green titles are biographies

Thursday Agenda

8:00      Registration, Breakfast & Meet the Conference Sponsors

8:45      Opening Remarks & Sponsor Introductions

               Host: VSA President, Peter Burrows 

9:15      Keynote with Kay Douglas: How Are the Students Doing?

10:15    Break

10:30    Greeting from Frank Henderson, NSBA President

10:45    What would you do? Diving into the work through case scenarios

12:00    Lunch & VSBA Exceptional Board Award Ceremony

1:00       Workshops

                      1. Building a Bridge to Student Achievement for All: How School Leaders Can Overcome Educational Inequities

                      2. Data Literacy to Boost School Board Knowledge and Oversight

                      3. The School Board’s Role in District Climate and Culture

                      4. Act 1 of 2019: Where Are We and What Does it Mean for School Boards?

                      5. Hiring, Evaluating, and Retaining a Superintendent

2:15     Break

2:40     A Panel with Colleagues: District-Level Equity Audits

2:40     Walk/Networking Time

3:30     VSA Business Meeting

3:30     VSBA Business Meeting

6:00     Reception

6:30     Dinner

8:00     Music Gathering



Friday Agenda

8:00    VSBIT Meeting

8:15    VEHI Meeting

8:45    Opening Remarks - Host: VSBA President, Neil Odell 

9:00    Screening of Listen Up!

10:30  Break

10:45  Working Towards Authentic Youth/Adult Partnerships in School District Governance

12:15  Lunch

1:15    Workshops

                   1. Strategies for Effective Board Meetings

                   2. Update on School Facilities Initiatives in Vermont

                   3. Draft Governance Standards

2:45   Adjournment 

Thursday, October 20 Handouts

Keynote: How Are the Students Doing?

How are the students doing? may be the most essential question school boards and administrators can ask. How do we answer that question? What data and information come to mind to respond? It might be that grappling with the question is more important than a specific response. When how the students are doing is the centerpiece of our conversation, that  can keep our priorities on track. It helps reduce adult distractions and competing personal interests from deflecting our attention away from what matters most. Consider how conversations, agendas, and decisions by the board change when how the students are doing is at the core of all we do.


Building a Bridge to Student Achievement for All

How School Leaders Can Overcome Educational Inequities Look at any school district’s mission and you will see a pro-mise to educate all students. However, schools all over the country are struggling to fulfill this promise despite their best intentions. In this session, school leaders will understand how factors such as race, disability, rural location, social emotional well being, and other characteristics or circumstances impact student outcomes and what specific things they can do to improve their district’s ability to successfully serve all kids. Participants will be introduc-ed to the Leading for Equity Framework which serves as a guide for school board members and school admin-istrators looking to have the conversation necessary to assess and progress equitable learning environments.

Data Literacy to Boost School Board Knowledge and Oversight

Engage in a conversation on types and sources of data available to Vermont schools to identify student and system needs, determine effective courses of action, and measure the efficacy of investments. Staff at the Vermont Agency of Education will guide school leaders through the strengths and limitations of school data with a particular focus on local comprehensive assessment systems and how to use various data points to guide system-
wide continuous improvement.


The School Board’s Role in District Climate and Culture

Explore the value of your school board developing a “shared moral imperative,” which provides an agreed upon understanding of what compels a board to meet the needs of students and community. Consider how that can help you as a board improve in one of your most significant challenges–working well together as a team! Discuss obstacles and opportunities to “beat the odds” and work together as a unified board for student growth and well-being. Identify steps you can take as an individual and as a board to improve the culture of your team and the climate and culture of your school system overall.

Act 1 of 2019: Where Are We and What Does it Mean for School Boards?

In 2019 the Legislature passed Act 1, a law to establish ethnic & social equity studies standards in Vermont schools. Act 1 established a working group to “review standards for student performance adopted by the State Board of Education and...recommend to the State Board updates and additional standards to fully recognize the history, contributions, and perspectives of ethnic groups and social groups.” After a long and collaborative process, the Act 1 Working Group submitted proposed revisions of the Educational Quality Standards (EQS) to the Vermont State Board of Education. Please join us to discuss the proposed changes to EQS and what the changes will mean for the work of school boards. 

Hiring, Evaluating, and Retaining a Superintendent

Hiring a well-qualified superintendent is among the most important things a school board does.The superintendent works closely with the board and is responsible for administering the school system efficiently, effectively and in accordance with overall policy direction established by the board. Evaluating the superintendent on clear, objective measures that were well-understood and agreed to in advance is critical to school improvement and the overall success of the system, superintendent and board. Importantly, how does a board work well with a superintendent to keep them in place over time in order to continue to add value to the education system?



A Panel with Colleagues: District-Level Equity Audits

This session will cover what a district-level equity audit is and why districts choose to conduct equity audits. A panel discussion with colleagues in different stages of the equity audit process will allow for an opportunity to ask questions and hear about their unique experiences while undergoing 
an equity audit. 

  • Lynn Cota, Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union, Superintendent

  • Michelle Irish, Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union, Director for the Advancement of Educational Equity

  • Mary Niles, Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union, Board Chair

  • Rene Sanchez, Champlain Valley School District, Superintendent

  • Angela Arsenault, Champlain Valley School District, Board Chair

  • Sean McMannon, Winooski School District, Superintendent 

  • Tori Cleiland, Winooski School District, Board Chair

Friday, October 21 Handouts


Screening of Listen Up!

The Listen Up Project is an ambitious original musical based on eight months of interviews, workshops, conversations and listening sessions with more than 800 teens across Vermont. From the vast and diverse stories gathered over this time, a script was written. Youth were engaged in the song-writing process and the musical was created. Statewide casting of the show occurred in May 2021. A four-week intensive rehearsal took place in July at Lyndon Institute in Lyndonville, VT. In August, the show toured across the state with nine live outdoor performances. In the fall of 2021 a streaming version of the show with a discussion guide became available for all those who were unable to attend the live summer shows. The streaming film version of the musical is available for schools, youth centers, educators, parents and teens.


Working Towards Authentic Youth/Adult Partnerships in School District


Strategies for Effective Board Meetings

Running effective school board meetings is essential for good governance. While navigating varied personalities and interests, board meetings are more likely to be effective when they are thoughtfully planned and executed. This includes ensuring the meeting follows the law and is ethically and efficiently managed. Consider ways to ensure the public can appropriately participate without derailing the business of the board. Discuss tips and strategies for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of your local school board meetings.

Update on School Facilities Initiatives in Vermont

The condition of school facilities has an important influence on the overall learning environment and can affect student engagement and outcomes as well as impact teacher recruitment and retention. This workshop will provide an overview of major facilities-related initiatives currently underway including Act 72 of 2021 (Vermont’s recent omnibus facilities legislation) and several school-associated environmental initiatives including PCB testing and remediation.  In addition, we will reflect on some lessons learned from the field relative to facilities issues.


Draft Governance Standards

Governance Quality Standards are a new requirement that came out of the 2021-22 legislative session. At the request of the Secretary of Education, the VSBA convened a task force to draft proposed language for the VSBA Board to consider and ultimately present to the AOE as a starting place for the state’s rulemaking process. During this session, we will think together about the components of good governance and ways to support governance in your school system. We will also discuss the process and scope of the task force, consider the wording of the current draft, and offer suggestions for improvement. The final meeting of the Governance Standards Task Force will be held immediately after the conference.

Act 1
Listen Up
Gov Standards
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