Principal looks to expand CVU

Dec. 11, 2008

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Increased teacher support, a new Chinese language program and building improvements are items Champlain Valley Union High School Principal Sean McMannon would like to see as part of next year’s budget. These changes would keep the school at the forefront of learning in Vermont, he said.

On Monday night, McMannon presented decision packets — a list of budget requests for 2009-2010 — to the CVU School Board. Potential additions include more instructional support teachers, updated technology equipment and updates to the capital plan. Overall, McMannon was looking at $342,000 in additions to the current year’s baseline budget of $21.03 million.

Instructional support teachers have a number of important responsibilities, McMannon said, including working with teachers to improve classroom instruction, planning in-service days and coordinating professional development for teachers.

“Having teachers move into these positions would help us greatly,” McMannon said.

McMannon cited former math teacher Charlie MacFadyen’s new job as technology integrationist within CVU as a helpful support position. MacFayden no longer teaches students in a classroom setting.

Also discussed was the possibility of adding a Chinese language teacher, a first for the high school. In a survey taken in November 2007, 33 percent of CVU students wanted to see Chinese as a new language offering — it was the language that drew the most interest from students in the survey. McMannon said the language is an important one in today’s increasingly global culture.

“It would be very helpful to bring in a new language and a non-European language as well,” he said.

In terms of the capital plan, updates to the high school infrastructure should also be considered for next year, McMannon said. A roof, put on in 1981, is in need of replacement over rooms 138 to 158. A new phone system and new public address system also needs to be considered. The total cost of capital improvements would be $120,000, McMannon said.

“The roof repair is our number one priority right now,” he said.

Other decision packets included an experimental program that would allow students to take online courses in a subject area not offered by the school, and then bring those lessons back to CVU classrooms. Additional technology equipment purchases were also discussed.

“We’re trying to progress our school as much as we can and be sensitive to the troubling economic times we’re in,” McMannon said.

School Board Chairwoman Jeanne Jensen said final decisions would come in early January after discussions.

“I’m excited to see these decision packets,” board member Jeff Parker said. “There’s some real neat things in there.”

Additional items

Chittenden South Supervisory Union Chief Operations Officer Bob Mason spoke to the School Board about changes in how CVU pays for greater supervisory union-wide services. Like all districts in CSSU, the high school pays its portion for the superintendent and human resources office. CVU also chips in for other shared services between schools, such as technology departments, transportation and education coordinators.

There are significant increases in shared service costs, Mason explained, since CSSU has reconfigured its formula for how much each district pays. Supervisory union transportation funding needed an overhaul, as did the food service payroll.

The technology portion of CVU’s shared services is going up more than $24,000, or 14 percent, from last year. Mason said the school uses a larger share of technology needs and technician costs.

Next year, CVU’s food service employees will be paid through CSSU rather than through the high school. Essentially, CVU will transfer $302,000 from its food services portion of its budget to the supervisory union. This change occurred after CVU and the Williston School District exchanged employees during Williston’s food service restructuring last year.

“Overall, this will improve the utilization of the talent we have,” Mason said.

A line item in the high school’s food service will reflect the change, Mason said. He added CVU could nix the idea and go back to the way it was if the board chose to do so.

Jensen believed it was worthy of further discussion, although at a later date.

“Discussion will happen after the budget season whether we keep it with CVU or with CSSU,” Jensen said.