School board hears about aliens, vaping, more

By MADELINE HUGHES

Do aliens exist?

That’s the question at the heart of middle school humanities and science this fall, taught by special educators Ashley Sutton and Matt Glass at Williston Central School.

The teachers have noticed a difference in student behavior and learning in the classroom. The curriculum has “really shifted student engagement,” Sutton told the Champlain Valley School District school board Tuesday night.

In a presentation at the school board meeting, the teachers shared how students are learning critical thinking skills such as sorting information sources and interviewing to build their case of whether or not aliens exist.

Asked about these practices being used in other schools, Jeff Evans, the district’s director of learning and innovation, answered: “I caution us to think things like this don’t exist in other schools… we are uncovering successes everywhere and finding success for students who don’t have success in the regular model.”

Changing tobacco policy

The board voted to change the district’s tobacco policy to include products such as vaporizers including Juuls, and other e-cigarettes. CVU Principal Adam Bunting raised the issue of widespread Juul with the policy committee, prompting the change.

The policy also allows administrators to refer students caught using the prohibited products to substance abuse professionals or law enforcement.

Other news

• The district decided last month to partner with the Shelburne Police Department for a three-year contract for a school resource officer who will be mainly based at CVU and will do outreach programs at the other schools. The district will pay the police department $470 a day when the officer is working in the school district, and overtime as needed for night and weekend events. The contract is for $85,000 per school year. Board members will vote to finalize the contract at the Nov. 6 meeting.

• Superintendent Elaine Pinckney and Board Chair Lynne Jaunich have been meeting with student leadership boards.

• Confused by education acronyms? Board meeting agendas now contain a glossary of abbreviations.

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