LYNDONVILLE -- At the December meeting of the Caledonia North Supervisory Union's Executive Board, Newark board member Becky Rodger gave an overview of some talking points she sees for the future.
Rodger handed out a document titled, "Caledonia North Plan for Potential Collaboration in the Interests of Students." She also talked about how critical she views technology improvements and access to be for the students' futures.
Rodger said she does not have all the answers but believes that technology is among the most critical needs in the system. Technology was mentioned as one of CNSU's most important needs in a recent brainstorming session with Steve Dale, Vermont School Boards Association executive director. Rodger was appointed to work on that issue.
At the meeting, there were updates on priority issues, including a possible CNSU-wide middle school, more collaboration among the music programs and improved vocational opportunities for students.
Other ideas mentioned included foreign language for students and more choices for middle school students to make related to their learning opportunities, which CNSU Superintendent Victoria Scheufler said was critical for middle school learners to begin developing their ability to make choices.
Through brainstorming, said Rodger, the executive board came up with a short list of ideas including improving technology instruction in the lower grades; improving technology support within the schools; offering more tech-related professional development for staff in the schools; and possibly exploring the use of technology facilities and assistance at Lyndon State College.
Of the technology needs system-wide, Rodger said, "Much upgrades are needed."
Rodger said some teachers need help in "adapting their teaching styles in the classroom -- not just using their Smart Boards as a projector ... that's not what it's for and that's how it's being used in some classrooms. It's going to take financing."
Celeste Girrell, Sutton School Board chairwoman and a member of the CNSU Executive Board, said it was a great idea; planning financially for a technology upgrade system-wide should be one of the main topics of discussion.
"We can do it right after town meeting, right after new people have been elected and there are brand spanking new people," Girrell said.
Sutton's board recently approved spending nearly $19,000 on technology at its November meeting, iPads for middle school students to make sure students are prepared for high school.
The one principal attending the CNSU meeting, Robert Stradling from Sutton School, said a significant amount of money will need to be voted on in each town to implement school by school improvements which everyone agreed are urgently needed.
Chair Michael Moore agreed it will be expensive, but it is needed.
Rodger said, "You're looking at a three to five-year plan to get us where we need to go, and it's not going to be inexpensive."
The board also discussed the need for a curriculum for technology instruction throughout CNSU's five schools.
Rodger said she believes some money should be put into budgets right away.
"We need to infuse some cash immediately to get started on the infrastructure," she said. Networking equipment to connect the schools is needed, she said, along with new wireless routers to get the schools up to speed.
Scheufler said she has been talking with Wildbranch Solutions, the technology firm managing technology for the schools and CNSU and a plan to improve the technology system-wide is being drafted with its costs and multi-year phase-in suggestions. She said she would soon have a rough number for the boards to look at.
"Every town is in a different place," said Scheufler.
CNSU encompasses the towns of Burke, East Haven, Lyndon, Newark, Sheffield, Sutton and Wheelock.