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Winter Wellness

in wellness by

At Doty School they’re doing the Winter Wellness Program a little differently this year. And, according to principal Matt Young, things are working fantastically! The school used some of the grant money that all schools get for winter wellness to build an outdoor ice skating rink and to add to their cross country ski and snowshoe equipment.

Now, instead of spending time riding a bus to the trails or the rink, all winter wellness time is spent skiing on snowmobile trails, snowshoeing, sledding and skating close to school. An extra benefit is that the students are able to do these activities more often – 8 times instead of only 5 – with less disruption of classroom time.

For the new rink, school staff worked with the Worcester selectboard to figure out a mutually accessible site and they decided on a site across the street from the school. There are plans to build a warming hut next to the rink. The rink is open to the public when the school isn’t using it.

All the students got a chance to do everything (skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and skating) and for the last two winter wellness sessions, they got to choose which activity they wanted to do. Even if the grant money goes away, the program will be sustained. What a great program that reflects community values!

Mark Chaplin – VT Cross Country Coach of the Year

in celebrations/STEM by
Kathy Topping, Orli Schwartz, Mark Chaplin, Eliza Merrylees, Anna Davis-Noe.

Longtime U-32 science teacher Mark Chaplin was recently named the Vermont High School Girls Cross County Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). USTFCCA honored one boys coach and one girls coach from each state, selecting winners based on their team’s performance during the 2017 season. The performance criterion includes team score and placement at state championships, among other things. Mark will receive a trophy from the USTFCCCA recognizing his achievements and will be considered for the association’s National High School Cross Country Coach of the Year award. http://www.ustfccca.org/2018/01/featured/2017-ustfccca-high-school-cross-country-coaches-of-the-year

Mark, who has taught science at U-32 for 45 years, has been coaching cross country since 1973, as well as track, and Nordic skiing. He also coached girls’ basketball for the first two decades of his work at U-32. During this time Mark’s teams have been in the top two in the state over sixty times. Read more about Mark’s success in the current issue of the U-32 newsletter.

Stage 32’s Lear wins Awards

in Arts in our schools by

Congratulations to the cast, crew and directors of Stage 32’s production of LEAR, adapted and directed by U-32 Senior Noah Witke Mele, that was performed at the Vermont Regional Drama Festival on Saturday March 10.

~ Award for excellence in Acting: Arthur Anderson
– Award for excellence in Acting – Justin Murray
– Award for excellence in Acting: Karli Robertson
~ Award for excellence in student playwrighting and directing: Noah Witke Mele
~ Award for excellence in music composition and sound design: Zak Kline
~ Group award for Excellence in Visual Imagery

Global Teen Health Week is sponsoring the next gallery show called BODIES

in Arts in our schools by

MAKE work that encourages us to think about BODIES, your BODY, their BODIES, how the media thinks your BODY should be, letting BODIES be how they want to be.

Respond to BODIES in ANY WAY in ANY media.
(use your voice, write, perform, paint, make a film, sculpt, draw, dance, make a photograph, etc.)

The U-32 Gallery will be accepting submissions until Friday, March 23rd 2018.

Send your work to gallery@u32.org or deliver it to room 111 on the 23rd.

Global Teen Health Week is an annual week-long designation to raise the profile of adolescent health. With more than a billion adolescents worldwide, this age group comprises one of the largest segments of the world’s population. The rapid physical and emotional growth of this age group differentiates it from the needs of children and adults. Health behaviors resulting in illness later in life often start in the teen years.

U-32 will focus on a health theme each day the week of March 19th:
3/19 – Sexual Health
3/20 – Physical Health
3/21 – Environmental Health
3/22 – Substance use/abuse
3/23 – Mental/emo health (WORK FOR THIS SHOW DUE)

East Montpelier Amazon River Dolphins Create Reuse-It App

in STEM by

The Amazon River Dolphins, a FIRST Lego League Team from East Montpelier, Vermont has been named ‘Best in State’ in the fifth annual Verizon Innovative Learning App Challenge for their smart phone app, Reuse-it.

The Verizon Innovative Learning App Challenge is a nationwide competition for students to design a smart phone app aimed at “solving societal issues in their schools and communities.” The learning experience is meant to spark greater interest in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and math.

The East Montpelier team will receive a $5000 award from the Verizon Foundation for the East Montpelier Elementary Parent Teacher Neighbor Org. and tablets for each of the students.  To learn more, view the news presentation on My Champlain Valley.

And to learn more about the Amazon River Dolphins, view their blog.

Meet the Candidates at Rumney

in Uncategorized by

Please join us for a “Meet the Candidates” evening at Rumney Memorial School on Thursday, February 22, 6:30-8:30 pm.

Rumney school board candidates Alison Cornwall, Carolyn Kiniry-Roberge, Chris McVeigh, and Kevin Stephani will offer their views on key issues. The panel will be moderated by Susan Clark, Middlesex Town Moderator.

The evening will include candidates’ responses to questions, as well as informal time to share cider and cookies and chat with the candidates.

If you have a question or topic you’d like the candidates to address, feel free to email it to Susan ahead of time, or bring it to the event.

Hosted by the Middlesex Town Meeting Solutions Committee.
Questions? Please contact Susan at sclark@sover.net or 802/223-5824.

School Reports are online!

in Educational Funding by

Our School Reports are a way to celebrate and feature different events and programs in our school communities. These reports also highlight the progress on student learning and performance on various assessments, as well as what we are doing throughout our schools to ensure success for each and every student.

Click on the links below to view the reports.

Berlin School Report

Calais School Report

Doty School Report

East Montpelier School Report

Rumney School Report

U-32 School Report

U-32 Annual Budget Report

Common Level of Appraisal and Other Mysteries of School Funding

in Educational Funding by

Town Meeting Day is right around the corner, so it’s time for an update on school funding and what we need to pay attention to in 2018.

Your school property tax: Your school property tax is a factor of four influences: the statewide property tax rate, school budget(s), equalized pupils, and the CLA, or Common Level of Appraisal, which equalizes property values across the state in order to make the statewide property tax fair. This system, created under acts 60 and 68, is designed to treat taxpayers and students in all Vermont towns fairly. Towns have equal ability to raise funds. The majority of taxpayers pay school taxes based on their income. Here’s how it works:

The statewide property tax: Under Act 68, the statewide property tax is $1.00 for residential property – your home – and $1.629 for non-residential property (businesses and second homes.) This rate is on each $100 of the property’s fair market value. When applied to all property statewide, this should raise enough to provide a basic education payment of $9,847 (the amount the state calculated is needed) for every equalized student* in the state. The statutory tax is rarely implemented. When there is a surplus in the education fund, the state may drop the statewide tax rate. For 2019, the Tax Commissioner has recommended the statewide property tax rate remain $1.00 residential and $1.629 non-residential. The property yield is expected to decrease from $10,160 to $9,842. This reduction is expected to result in state-wide average tax increases of approximately 9.5 cents.

The school budget: The state calculated the educational spending per equalized pupil base amount of $9,847. It takes more than $9,847 to educate a student; how much more is what school boards wrestle with as they set their budgets. When the school budget is final, the state tax rate for residential property is adjusted to locally raise taxes for spending above the basic education payment. The residential tax rate adjustments reflect both the U-32 and elementary school budgets. The non-residential tax rate is fixed and is not changed by the school budget. However, both rates are changed by the Common Level of Appraisal.

The Common Level of Appraisal: So far, we have seen that the statewide property tax rate raises enough to cover the basic education payment, and the local adjustment raises enough to cover the rest of the school budget. This combination of state and local tax rates works as long as all the property in the state is being taxed at 100% of its value.

Here’s how that works: If your $100,000 house is taxed at $1.05 per $100, it will raise $1,050 in taxes. But what if your cousin’s identical $100,000 house in another town is only appraised at $75,000? If the same $1.05 tax rate is used, your cousin will only pay $787.50. This is unfair.

To deal with the inequity of differing appraisals from town to town, the state comes up with a formula for each town that compares its appraisals to 100% of the fair market value – what your home is actually worth. This is the CLA; it represents the gap between appraised value and actual value. Instead of changing the appraisals the formula changes the town’s tax rate. Think of that $100,000 (fair market value) house again. If it’s appraised at $150,000, the tax rate is reduced to still raise the same $1,050. If it’s appraised at $100,000, the tax rate stays steady at $1.05. If it is appraised at $75,000, the tax rate is increased to still raise the $1,050 on that house. This CLA formula is applied to both the residential and non-residential property tax rates; so all education taxes are affected by the CLA.

Why CLA matters: When property values rise rapidly, the appraisals quickly fall behind the actual values, and the CLA drops from year to year. A small drop means a small increase in the tax rate; a big drop means a big change. When a town conducts a new appraisal, the CLA jumps up, often going above 100%. Tax rates fall. After that, as long as property values continue to rise, the CLA will continue to drop. In the past year, WCSU towns’ CLA changed: Berlin from 105.84 to 102.45; Calais from 98.48 to 98.51; East Montpelier from 94.94 to 95.83; Middlesex from 93.67 to 101.24; and Worcester from to 101.06 to 99.40. When the CLA drops, the tax rates rise so that the properties continue to generate the needed revenue. You would pay the same amount of tax if your house were appraised at 100% with a low tax rate as you do when your house is appraised at 75% with a higher tax rate. It’s a balance. It helps to think about the dollar amount of tax rather than the tax rate.

Putting it all together: With this year’s CLA adjustment, the increase in the state tax rate due to the decrease in the projected property yield and projected residential tax rate increases (decreases) are as follows (includes U-32 and respective elementary school budgets as proposed): Berlin +11.0¢; Calais +6.8¢; E. Montpelier +9.4¢; Middlesex +3.9¢; and Worcester +16.3¢.

The last but very important part of the equation is the income protection in Act 68. During calendar year 2016, 61% of the homeowners in our five towns did not need to pay the full amount of the education tax since they made less than the $141,000. For tax year 2016, the current income cap per household is $141,000 ($152,680 if working). Make sure that you apply for any homestead tax adjustment. Please help your relatives, friends and neighbors apply for adjustments if they are eligible. Even if you didn’t receive one in the past, it is worth applying for, because as the tax rates and income limits change, so does the eligibility. The tax department has a substantial outreach program to reach eligible citizens. If you have any questions, call the tax department at 828-2865. If you are eligible, the tax adjustment shows up right on your tax bill.

*Equalized students, or when is a student NOT a student? A school does not get $9,847 for every student body in the classroom. Say you get a point for each student. You get extra points for high school students, for state-placed students, for students who do not speak English, for low income students, and for various other categories. You even get extra points for not having ENOUGH students, if the decline in enrollment is so fast that the lack of revenue would make it impossible to run your school. The state adds up all the points, divides it by the number of actual students, and gives each school a number of equalized students which may or may not bear any resemblance to the number of actual students! The school then gets basic education funding for each equalized student. This same number is used to calculate the per-pupil expense, which is even more important these days than the total school budget. This is why declining enrollment is such a problem: when the school’s budget is divided among fewer pupils, the per-pupil cost goes up, and that affects the tax rate. Stay tuned!

Ksepka Receives Child Nutrition Award

in Uncategorized by

Washington Central Supervisory Union Data Manager/Transportation Coordinator, Michelle Ksepka, has received the 2017 Child Nutrition Administrative Leadership Award.

This recognition is presented to those who demonstrate outstanding leadership in support of child nutrition programs that ensure students are fed well within their school systems. Recipients understand the importance that proper nutrition plays in student success and have supported programs in their field of work.

In the nomination for the Child Nutrition Administrative Leadership Award, Business Manager Lori Bibeau and Superintendent Bill Kimball stated: “Michelle is our food service champion. When Michelle takes a new role, she always goes beyond to implement the work and provide support to others, as needed. Although Michelle’s hard work is behind the scenes, she makes a difference in the smooth operation of the food programs. Michelle is the unsung hero for the WCSU Food Programs.”

On October 19, 2017 Michelle accepted the Child Nutrition Administrative Leadership Award during the annual meeting of the School Nutrition Association of Vermont. Pictured left: Michelle Ksepka with Erica Dolan, President-Elect, School Nutrition Association-Vermont.

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