Welcome back to Messages From Montpelier.
It has been five weeks since the new Legislative session began and the Education Committee, of which I am a member, is diving deeply into Private and Public Pre-Kindergarten programs, Early (K-3) Literacy Instruction, and hearing testimony on a new Pupil Weighting Factors Report. This updated report provides data on how different categories of students should be “weighted” in order to reach a fair and equitable equalized student count.
I am also in the process of visiting Colchester Schools. As a member of the Education Committee I felt it was important to become more familiar with our District and develop relationships with the educators and administrators. Superintendent Amy Minor has been very generous with her time by helping me to learn more about the culture, mission, facilities, and operations of the Colchester School District (CSD).
Last week I visited classrooms at Union Memorial School with Principal Chris Antonicci. As a former educator it was wonderful to be back in a school setting. We visited a kindergarten and a second grade classroom both immersed in grade level phonics instruction. It was impressive to observe children so engaged and attentive. This week I will be meeting Principal Heather Baron and visiting classrooms at Colchester High School—can’t wait!
Our Committee is also hearing from different non-profit groups such as Advance Vermont whose goal is to develop partnerships with our state colleges and local businesses. Advance Vermont’s mission is to create flexible non-traditional pathways for post high school students to be able to access credentials of value, develop workforce skills and knowledge, and become gainfully employed in their chosen vocation.
In addition to being a member of the Education Committee I am also a member of the Climate Solutions Caucus (CSC) and the Tourism Caucus. At last week’s CSC, we reviewed the tenets of the Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act which is a priority of the Caucus. The goals are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, address building capacity to mitigate the impact of climate change on Vermont’s economy and lifestyle, and to support cities and towns in their efforts to build resilience in the wake of changing weather patterns.
As a member of the Colchester Planning Commission, I really enjoy attending the Tourism Caucus. Every week we hear from a different agency or business involved in promoting the opportunities Vermont has to offer visitors. Last week we heard from the Outdoor Business Alliance. Two of the the organization’s members—Ric Cabot, CEO of Darn Tough Socks, and Lisa Lynn, publisher of VT Ski and Ride Magazine and Vermont Sports Magazine, spoke to us about Vermont’s growing outdoor sports industry. Tourism is over a billion dollar enterprise in Vermont and it is projected to grow.
I want to, again, thank the citizens of Colchester for the opportunity to represent you. This is a humbling and enormous responsibility that I am cognizant of everyday when I enter the Capitol.
The next Leg Hour will be on Monday, Feb. 17 from 12-1 p.m. in the Champlain Room at the Town Offices. Please join myself and other Colchester Legislators to share your thoughts, concerns, and questions.
Rep. Sarita Austin