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Continued Conversation Regarding School Safety

  • February 19, 2018

    Washington Central Learning Community, 

    Within the last week, we have witnessed the devastating effects of yet another school shooting, and an arrest in response to a school threat in our own little state of Vermont. 

    As mentioned in my message to you on Friday, our schools regularly review our response plans together as a leadership team, in tandem with the Agency of Education, Department of Public Safety, law enforcement and first responders. This is hard and careful work, and we are grateful to the many individuals who partner and prepare to ensure the safety and well-being of our children.

    As a reminder, if an emergency were to occur on one of our campuses, our schools would use our alert system to notify parents of the unfolding event. The school’s emergency response procedures would be executed quickly.  We ask that you review the attached School Emergency Information Guide for Parents and Guardians to refresh yourselves on terminology and your role in an emergency at school.

    These horrific events remind us that every student, teacher, parent, school administrator and community member plays a role in providing a safe and secure environment for all those who attend, visit and work at our schools.  With that belief in mind, I ask that you take a moment to read the attached memo from the VT Department of Mental Health which contains invaluable resources on how to best support those who may be struggling with processing these recent events and empower all of us to reach out to those we live, learn, work with to build a stronger community.

    I would remind each of us, the best way to remain safe is to know our students well, connect with them, and establish trusting, caring relationships.  This way students know we care about each and every individual in the community.

    Thank you,

    Bill Kimball, 

    WCSU Superintendent of Schools

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School Safety

  • February 16, 2018 
    Dear Families of the Washington Central Educational Community,
    The shooting in Florida and the recent news of a plot against Fair Haven High School causes us to pause and consider the safety and security of our own students.
    First, our thoughts and prayers are with the families, students, staff, and community in Parkland Florida.  No community should have to endure the pain and loss that their community is facing.
    Second, I want to reassure our community that we take the safety and security of our students very seriously. 
    Our schools have implemented measures to limit access to our schools through systems like our door buzzers.  We also regularly review our response plans to all kinds of safety and security issues and we practice those responses with our staff and students.  Most importantly, our schools foster strong relationships between staff, students, and families.  Our best response to threats are to know our students well and to deal with issues of isolation, bullying, and harassment as soon as they occur.  Developing strong support systems through Responsive Classrooms, Teacher Advisory, and Restorative Practice helps us build relationships with students and between students that make all members of our school community feel welcomed, accepted and appreciated.

    As the superintendent, I know that our schools will continue to be safe and welcoming to all our students and I encourage any member of our community who knows of a student in need or of concern that they reach out to the schools, police or me directly.  We are all partners in maintaining a safe community.
    Thank you and have a good evening,
    Superintendent Bill Kimball
    Washington Central Supervisory Union
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2017-2018 Calendar

Last Day of School Announcement

Last Day of PreK Announcement

13 Reasons Why

  • May 3, 2017

    Dear Parents and Guardians,

    I want to inform you of a trending Netflix series called “13 Reasons Why” which is based on a young adult novel of the same name by Jay Asher that was published in 2007. The series revolves around 17-year-old Hannah Baker, who kills herself and leaves behind audio recordings for 13 people she says were in some way part of why she killed herself. The series is rated TV-MA, which stands for Mature Audience Only, and includes graphic scenes including sexual assault and suicide.

    The show has been highly watched by young people and has received lots of media attention. Because the show takes up issues related to suicide and sexual assault, there have been strong (and strongly mixed) reactions from many viewers along with several professional and advocacy groups. On the one hand, the series has potentially focused attention on and created an avenue for productive discussions around the meaning of friendship, how friends might support each other, the risks of mistreatment and assault and the issue of youth suicide. On the other hand, the depiction and circumstances of the suicide have raised concerns because there are several elements in the story that are inconsistent with safe messaging guidelines around handling portrayals of suicide in media and works of fiction.

    In light of the feedback about this show, on the day of its release, the JED foundation partnered with Suicide Awareness Voices of America (SAVE) to develop Talking Points to help clinicians and mental health professionals discuss the show with parents, young people and the media. Netflix was supportive of the distribution of the Talking Points and posted them along with crisis services and a link to additional information about young adult mental health on the official 13RY resource website. Netflix also filmed Beyond The Reasons as a tool to help parents and teens frame the conversation and encourage them to speak up and seek help. The show is rated TV MA and there are trigger warning cards prior to three of the episodes.

    Here’s what JED suggests young viewers and parents consider:

    • Make a considered and thoughtful decision about whether or not you choose to watch the show. If you have experienced significant depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts or behaviors in the past, this show may be risky for you to watch.
    • If you choose to watch the show and are finding yourself distraught, depressed, or having thoughts of suicide or are having trouble sleeping, stop watching it and let a parent, trusted adult or counselor know. You can also text start to 741- 741 for confidential, professional help 24/7.
    • For those who choose to watch the show, consider watching it with others and taking breaks between episodes instead of binge-watching. It would be especially good to watch with parents or other trusted adults. Discuss what you are seeing and experiencing along the way.
    • This show does provide an opportunity to explore and discuss the meaning of friendship and how we make choices when we or friends are having troubles or are struggling. Viewers should consider how they might have made different choices from those made by characters in the story.
    • Whether you choose to watch this show or not, we should all work to be caring of and vigilant about our family members, friends and ourselves. If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally or showing signs indicating a possible suicidal crisis get them (or yourself) to help. Support from trusted friends and family and professional mental health care when it is needed, save lives every day.

    If you or someone you know needs immediate help, text 741741 or call 800-273-TALK (8255)

    Encouragingly, there is also some information about the kinds of depictions of suicide that might actually lower risk. These would include depictions which show people who are struggling being helped and supported by friends and professionals, treatment for mental health problems being effective and stories of people overcoming suicidal challenges.

    Unfortunately, several of these problems are present in 13 Reasons Why. The suicide is graphically depicted, the young woman who dies is memorialized in unhelpful ways, the suicide seemingly results directly from the misdeeds perpetrated against her by others and Hannah is portrayed as a long suffering victim who, by her death, is taking vengeance on those who have wronged her. Further, there are fewer occasions in which more positive and protective messages are communicated. Friends often mistreat each other and most adults are often oblivious to the suffering and misbehavior around them. The school counselor depicted in the series seriously and tragically bungles Hannah’s attempt to reach out for help rather than providing needed support and follow up.

    Given these concerns, we encourage young people to consider whether watching the series is the right choice for them, and we encourage parents and educators to familiarize themselves with JED’s Talking Points and prepare to discuss the series with the young people in their lives who are watching.

    Many students may have already watched the entire series. The U-32 Student Services staff is available to students if they need additional support regarding these topics. Please contact your School Counselor if you have any concerns or need any additional support regarding these topics.

    Overall, we are sharing this information to encourage you to have a conversation with your student about the show, if they have in fact watched it, as well as a conversation about mental health and suicide prevention. Please see the information below to support you in having these conversations.


    Lisa LaPlante

    U-32 Director of Student Services


    Guidance for Families from National Association of School Psychologists:

    1. Ask your child if they have heard or seen the series 13 Reasons Why. While we don’t recommend that they be encouraged to view the series, do tell them you want to watch it, with them or to catch up, and discuss their thoughts.
    2. If they exhibit any of the warning signs listed below, don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide or if someone is hurting them. Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk or plant the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help.
    3. Ask your child if they think any of their friends or classmates exhibit warning signs. Talk with them about how to seek help for their friend or classmate. Guide them on how to respond when they see or hear any of the warning signs.
    4. Listen to your children’s comments without judgment. Doing so requires that you fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said. Put your own agenda aside.
    5. Get help from a school-employed or community-based mental health professional if you are concerned for your child’s safety or the safety of one of their peers.

    Warning Signs from National Association of School Psychologists:

    • Suicide threats, both direct (“I am going to kill myself.” “I need life to stop.”) And indirect (“I need it to stop.” “I wish I could fall asleep and never wake up.”). Threats can be verbal or written, and they are often found in online postings.
    • Giving away prized possessions.
    • Preoccupation with death in conversation, writing, drawing, and social media.
    • Changes in behavior, appearance/hygiene, thoughts, and/or feelings. This can include someone who is typically sad who suddenly becomes extremely happy.
    • Emotional distress.

    Child Mind Institute: “Why Talk to Kids about ‘13 Reasons Why

    Screenagers - Tech-Talk Tuesdays” provides conversations starters for families via email every Tuesday which are highly recommended for dinner time. To sign-up to receive the weekly email and see the questions from a recent Tech Talk Tuesday called “‘13 Reasons Why’ and how to talk to our teens about hard issues”:

    “Why ‘13 Reasons Why’ Shouldn’t Be Your Teens Binge

     Local Mental Health Resources:

    • Washington County Mental Health Services; Crisis Screeners: (802) 229-0591
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Invitation to View Student Work Demonstrating SLO's

  • April 29, 2017

    Please mark your calendar for Monday, June 5 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. for an exhibit of student work that demonstrates the Student Learning Outcomes at the graduation level.


    April 5, 2017

    Hi Folks –

    I know Monday was a busy afternoon for all of us.  If you had conflict and you were not able to attend the Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) Graduation Exemplar Gallery Walk and still would like to either look at what proficiency looks like for the SLO and /or give feedback to the teachers, you are in luck.  You can view the exemplars on-line and give feedback through a survey form.  If you go to the Zoo News section of the U-32 home page at www.u32.org/domain8, you can see the teacher and student work.  This site will be up until Friday April 7th.

    Superintendent Bill Kimball


    Hello, WCSU Community—

    Are you wondering what exactly PBGRs are?  PBGR stands for Proficiency-Based Graduation Requirements.  Beginning with this year’s ninth grade class, all students must graduate under a proficiency-based system.   In Washington Central Supervisory Union, our PBGRs are aligned to the Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) that our full school board adopted in May 2016.  What exactly will the SLO look like and sound like at the graduation level?  Come and find out!

    U-32 invites you to attend the Student Learning Outcomes Draft 1 Exemplar Gallery Walk on Monday, April 3rd from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in the U-32 Atrium.  Each department will have examples of student work that exhibit what the SLO look like and sound like at the graduation level.

    Please note: The gallery walk is designed to showcase early prototypes.  The public will be invited to provide feedback during the gallery walk itself, and our teachers will consider the feedback as they create the final version of the exemplars.

    We warmly invite and encourage students, parents, teachers, and community members to attend.  Your feedback will be an integral part of our process as we finalize these graduation exemplars.  

    If you are interested in this work and are unable to attend the gallery walk on April 3, you may access the draft exemplars and the feedback survey through the U-32 web site between April 3-7. 

    Please mark your calendar for Monday, June 5 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. for an exhibit of student work that demonstrates the Student Learning Outcomes at the graduation level.

    This invitation has been sent to our WCSU full school board and will be sent to families via elementary school newsletters and U-32 email.  It will also be posted on each town’s Front Porch Forum.

    If you have questions, please contact your principal, Lisa LaPlante, U-32 Director of Student Services, at llaplante@u32.org or me.


    Jennifer Miller-Arsenault

    Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment

    Washington Central Supervisory Union

    1130 Gallison Hill Road

    Montpelier, VT  05602

    (802) 229-0553 x310


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Sad News to Share

  • The Washington Central Supervisory Union community is shocked and saddened by the death of a teacher, colleague, and friend, Laure Angel, who passed away tragically Sunday, February 5th in a snowmobile accident.  Laure currently was a member of the Porthos Middle School Team at U-32 Middle/High School as a Social Studies Teacher.

    Laure joined WCSU in August 2011 and in addition to her work with students, Laure was a respected member of the Social Studies Curriculum Council and Negotiations Team.   Her loss will be felt greatly.

    Please know that the U-32 and Washington Central community have grief counselors in place from Washington County Mental Health and we are providing supports to our staff and students and will continue to do so.  Please join me in keeping Laure’s family, near and abroad, as well as the entire U-32 and Washington Central Educational Community in your thoughts and prayers.

    Superintendent Bill Kimball

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U-32's Kate McCann is VT Teacher of the Year

  • December 20th I welcomed school board members, faculty, staff, other members of the U-32 School Community, media, and the Vermont State Board of Education to U-32 to celebrate one of our own.  Kate McCann was recognized as Vermont’s next Teacher of the Year.  Kate has been with U-32 for 10 years and recently also received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching for 2015.  I know that her involvement in mentoring National Board teachers, serving as the VCTM co-president, and participation in numerous district professional development presentations and trainings was a big part of what impressed the committee and I am appreciative of the work that Kate does to advocate for and improve the quality of math teaching in the state of Vermont.  I also know that students in Kate’s classes, students that see her every day, are some of the best judges of who she is as a teacher, so I want to share some of their quotes about Kate:

     “She was an awesome teacher this year. She made me understand and appreciate math a lot more.”

     “I'd like to thank Kate McCann for helping me develop my math skills and develop a better work ethic.”

     “Thank you for being willing to spend extra time tutoring me in Algebra II when I struggled the most with it (which was most of the time) and keeping me from failing it entirely. I'm a bit more comfortable with math thanks to you.”

     “She is an outstanding math teacher who also is able to connect with students to help them best.”

     “She's awesome and always willing to help with anything.”

     This is an exciting time for U-32 and the entire Washington Central Supervisory Union, and I hope that you see in Kate the dedication that all the educators in our Supervisory Union have to the education of the children of Central Vermont.  It is an honor to work with Kate, and I look forward to her continued leadership in teaching and learning.  Thank you to her family, friends and colleagues for supporting Kate as the next Vermont Teacher of the Year. 

    Bill Kimball, Superintendent

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3/15/17 School/Weather Update

  • After consulting with the National Weather Service, the State of Vermont, Roger Hill and our personnel, all schools in Washington Central will be opening on a two hour delay tomorrow morning on Wednesday, March 15, 2017. This means that Berlin, Calais, Doty, East Montpelier, Rumney and U-32 will start two hours later in the morning.
    At this point we expect to be able open school with the delay, but I would ask all of you to pay attention to the media, check your phones and e-mail for messages in the morning as conditions may change quickly as they did this morning. Early in the morning I will be confirming with our road crews and the weather forecasters to learn about the weather and the roads conditions for the day.
    Please stay safe and warm.
    Bill Kimball, Superintendent
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11/2/16 Meeting Cancellation

  • The WCSU Act 46 Study Committee meeting for Wednesday, November 2nd at 6pm has been CANCELLED.

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9/21/16 Meeting Change

  • The WCSU Executive Committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday, September 21st at 5pm has been cancelled and will be rescheduled for a later date.

    The WCSU Act 46 Study Committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday, September 21st at 6pm WILL STILL MEET at Doty Memorial School.

    Please contact the WCSU Central Office with any questions at 802-229-0553.

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New Websites

  • In moving toward meeting the goal of improved communication, WCSU is proud to unveil our new and improved website!  Please take a look around, sign up for alerts, 'Like' our new FaceBook page, follow the Superintendent on Twitter and more.

    Our schools each have new websites as well - you can find them by clicking the Select a School tab, choosing Elementary Schools from the dropdown list and picking your school.

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Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements

  • Beginning with students entering ninth grade in the fall of 2016, a student meets the requirements for graduation when the student demonstrates evidence of proficiency in each of the Student Learning Outcomes that are in alignment with Vermont’s Education Quality Standards.

    Please click the following link to read the complete policy:  Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements Policy

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Student Learning Outcomes

  • On May 25, 2016 the WCSU Full Board approved the Student Learning Outcomes, which states the following:

    WCSU exists to nurture and inspire in all students the passion, creativity and power to contribute to their local and global communities.

    More specifically, WCSU students will meet or exceed rigorous standards for:

    Core knowledge of essential academic subjects, including:

    • Literacy
    • Mathematical Content and Practices
    • Scientific Inquiry and Content Knowledge
    • Global Citizenship
    • Physical Education and Health
    • Artistic Expression
    • Financial Literacy

    Transferable skills and behaviors that prepare them for life-long learning and success, including:

    • Creative and Practical Problem Solving
    • Effective and Expressive Communication
    • Engaged Citizenship
    • Working Independently and Collaboratively
    • Informed, Integrated and Critical Thinking
    • Self-Awareness and Self-Direction


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