School budget decision packets revealed

Extended school day among proposed changes

Nov. 23, 2011

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Although no decisions were made, decision packets highlighted the Williston School Board’s budget meeting on Nov. 17.

Williston District Principal Walter Nardelli explained that decision packets are the tools that will be used to makes changes to the FY2013 baseline budget.

“To change the baseline budget, you have to write a decision packet, which is either going to increase or decrease the budget,” Nardelli said. “What we do here in Williston is we allow everybody to kind of tell us what their needs are through a decision packet. This does not mean that every one of these is going to go through. We’re going to have a lot of discussion about them and weigh out the educational impact.”

There were 17 items on the list of decision packets Nardelli handed out to members of the Board and budget buddies in attendance, none more notable than an item titled “Extended School Day.”

“We are looking to extend the day in some way that will take the pressure off the regular school day around a lot of different areas,” Nardelli said.

Nardelli further referenced the extended school day concept when discussing such proposed programs as kindergarten related arts and world language classes.

“If we’re going to add anything else in, that means we’re taking away from core (instructional) time because that’s the only place it can come from. So that’s the struggle with a six-and-a-half-hour day,” Nardelli said.

Also of note among the decision packets was the proposed creation of an “early intervention outreach coordinator,” who would serve as a liaison between Allen Brook School and local preschools.

“The idea of that position is to coordinate (preschools’) curriculums and the work they do with our students with programs at school, so when they come, they’re better prepared to be successful at school,” said Nardelli. “So it’s actually working with the preschools locally — every one of them that we have a partnership with — to influence the instruction our future students will get.”

At the larger Chittenden South Supervisory Union level — which comprises the towns of Williston, Hinesburg, St. George, Charlotte and Shelburne — CSSU Chief Operations Officer Bob Mason said the CSSU board met Nov. 16 to discuss FY2013 decision packets — including a packet that calls for the elimination of support for math coordinators.

“They are considering removing the support line under math coordinator,” Mason said. “The CSSU board used to contribute $50,000 in support of that program, with the bulk of the rest of the program coming from Title II funding, which is federal funding in support of schools. The title funding is rapidly disappearing, and as a result, CSSU will consider no longer funding salary and benefits in the form of math coordinators as part of its purchased services budget.”

On a similar note, Nardelli said Williston’s summer school program is in danger of being eliminated.

“Right now there’s no money left for summer school,” said Nardelli. “So if we want to continue summer school for students other than special education students, then we have to consider that (decision packet).”

Nardelli stressed that the purpose of his presentation was merely to outline the various decision packets, and that detailed discussion and analysis are still to come.

“Sometime mid-December we’re going to go through and we’re going to consider all of these (decision packets) and you’ll get presentations in detail on every single one of them and we’ll discuss them at length,” Nardelli said.