School bells toll again

NORTHSHIRE - For students in the Battenkill Valley and Bennington Rutland Supervisory Unions, school has been in session for a week. Both supervisory unions have seen changes and growth over their summer.

The BVSU welcomed a new superintendent at the end of the last school year. Judith Pullinen has previously worked as a high school and technology teacher, as well as a middle school principal, technology center director and superintendent.

"I came to the BVSU because I love working with small schools and saw a great opportunity in this supervisory union to provide increased education opportunities for students," she wrote in an email. "The school s have great support from the community and make it a great atmosphere in which to work."

This year, the BVSU saw an increase in enrollment, with 220 students at Fisher Elementary School, as well as 220 students at Arlington Memorial High school. Pullinen said there are new teachers at each school as well: pre-K and third grade in the elementary school, and a new librarian and music and band teacher at the high school. District wide, there are two new special educators and a speech pathologists.

While Pullinen said there are not any new programs this year, the teachers at Fisher Elementary will be co-teaching special education teachers, in an effort to improve instruction.

A large goal the BVSU has for this year involved curriculum planning for all grades.

"There are a number of new goals this year, including ... Common Core State standards and implementation of pre-k for all 3, 4, and 5 year-old children. Currently we only provide for 4 year- olds," she wrote. "[We will also] focus on student learning, dual enrollment options, develop personal learning plans...[and ] increase student access to technology."

The BRSU is still led by superintendent Dan French, but there is a new principal this year. Carolyn Parillo is not the principal at Currier Memorial and joins 20 other new teachers joining the district.

Currently, French said there are 1,200 students enrolled in the district.

"Dorset, Mettawee and Sunderland had significant increases in enrollments," he said in an email. "Flood Brook has a slight increase and Currier and MEMS [Manchester Elementary Middle School] have slight decreases." This year, French wrote that the BRSU will continue to work with personalize learning plans, which were implemented last year. Along with the focus on personalized learning, the district is also focusing on continuing to utilized e-portfolios.

"A chief feature of this work is that we are leveraging the capacity of all our educators across the system," he wrote. "It is amazing to see what or teachers can do working as a group of schools."

French wrote that no programs were cut for this school year and that he is impressed with the wide variety of programs offered in the BRSU. Everything from computer programming to 3D printing, along with advanced academic courses and the trout in the classroom program are offered. A possible new change to the district in the future is adopting solar power as a source for electricity. French wrote that Dorset has already implemented solar panels on their school building.

"Our other schools are exploring working with a group of private investors to construct a solar field in the region to lower school energy costs and better utilizes sustainable energy resources," he wrote.


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