Principal’s Press Conference, 5/2/24

This article was written by the members of the Journalism class. 

 

On Thursday, May 2nd, Steven Dellinger-Pate sat down with the journalism class to answer questions about the most up-and-coming topics around U-32. This is the sixth article in an ongoing series called Principal’s Press.

 

5/2 Topics

  • Steven is Super!
  • Advice for Steven’s Successor
  • Courage to Speak Foundation Presentation
  • Student Enrollment Decline
  • Relocation Drills
  • U-32 Stance on Foreign Affairs
  • Where’s Wall Art?
  • U-32 Budget Revote

 

 

Steven is Super!

By Maia Pasco and Evelyn Rocha

 

Steven Dellinger-Pate is Washington Central Supervisory Union’s new superintendent. As the new superintendent Steven’s goals for the upcoming years are to focus on 3 big topics going on in our district right now: reconfiguration, instruction, and implementing a new strategic plan.

 

For reconfiguration, with the new budget developments, Steven plans to focus on the needs of the students. “We are going to look in the future to make sure that our students have all the opportunities that we can provide them,” Steven said. 

 

He also plans to have a potent focus on instruction, “I want our teachers to be as strong in the classroom as they can because that’s what you deserve as students,” he said. He is planning to provide training, support, and feedback for the educators at U-32. “I think that’s really important,” he said. 

 

Finally, he wants to implement new strategic planning that focuses on 5 core values. According to Steven, those values are “rigorous curriculum and instruction, focus on humanity and justice, transparency and its governance and leadership.” Steven said that he wants to make those values part of U-32’s experience.

 

With a new budget in the making, U-32 is focusing on reconfiguring the district in order to meet the needs of the students, staff, and the community. For more information on reconfiguration refer to Chronicle student journalist Ari Chapin’s article series, Population and Education

 

Steven is a little nervous about his new position, “it’s a big change for me,” he said. “And I really love being here [at U-32].” After all, he has been principal of U-32 for 10 years. 

 

Steven says he will miss being at U-32 everyday but that he believes he has something new to offer the district and community as superintendent. However, he does acknowledge that the district has challenges up ahead. ”We’re going to have a hard time figuring out what’s right for everybody,” he said. “And making sure that we have schools.”  

 

Steven hopes that under his leadership the district “can create learning communities that are really inclusive and make everybody feel welcome.”

 

Advice for Steven’s Successor

Lei DeGroot and Daniel Yaeger

 

Steven Dellinger-Pate is leaving U-32 to become the Superintendent of Washington Central Unified Union School District. His advice to his successor after serving over a decade at U-32. “I would say take the time to know people,” said Steven.   

 

He hopes that the next principal will, “Get to know their strengths and their weaknesses.” It’s important to him that the principal knows everyone and how they work. 

 

When Steven first came to the school he asked his colleagues,”[What] would be the worst thing that I could do, what would that be? And it was almost unanimous, and it was the TA system and the vibe.” The TA system is something that is really special. 

 

On a recent visit to the dentist he learned that people still cherish the TA system even years after their graduations. “Their TA happened to be Ellen Cooke, and so I said yep, still here,”

Steven said. 

 

Ensuring that the environment at U-32 is right, so that people can thrive is really important to Steven. “I think that the principal needs to create a climate and a culture where everybody can be their best,” said Steven. “Making sure that you’re creating a culture where you have all these opportunities for kids to express themselves to strive to be better, to fight for justice.” 

 

Steven feels that he is unable to claim credit for some of the greatest achievements that U-32 has seen. “To be fair, I didn’t actually do some of the things that are our best accomplishments during the time that I’ve been here,” he said. 

 

Steven believes that, “The deepest ethos that we strive towards, is caring for one another. And we don’t always do that well, right. We hurt each other, sometimes, we make mistakes but I think that our commitment to things like restorative practice demonstrates our desire to constantly try to make sure that we take care of each other.”

 

Courage to Speak Foundation Presentation

By Josie Haley & Elly Budliger

 

“That was not the quality we wanted to see. It was tough.”

 

Steven Dellinger-Pate has concerns about the Courage to Speak Foundation presentation given to students and faculty. The presentation was shown to students on May 1, 2024. “The students were absolutely fantastic in their respect for what was a difficult presentation to follow,” said Steven. 

 

The opportunity was proposed to U-32 admin by Washington County Mental Health. After the presentation, the organization offered a pivot, “They are going to partner with us for the next presentation because they felt similar as we did. They are going to vet their presenters better in the future,” said Steven. While the presentation did contain an applicable message, it was not delivered effectively.

 

“We as a staff know that these topics are sensitive and should be handled with care,” said Steven. Students demonstrated intense maturity through the difficult presentation. Especially, “the Middle School was fabulous. There’s always concern sometimes that you might lose them but they did a really good job and I really appreciate that,” said Steven. 

 

U-32 students can expect to see an upcoming presentation with a similar message. Washington County Mental Health and U-32 are hoping that their future presentation will educate students about drug use more effectively.

 

Student Enrollment Decline

By Cody Young & Drew Frostick

 

U-32 is expecting an enrollment decline in the coming years by a possible 100-120 students. This issue seems to be out of the district’s control. “This is a community and state problem. It’s not just U-32,” said Steven Dellinger-Pate.

 

Steven is on the board of the Economic Development Council, and conversations revolve around the need for affordable housing and childcare. “[Those are] the communities that we can work on if we want younger people to be able to stay here and raise a family here,” said Steven. “If we don’t have affordable housing or childcare, we are going to be stuck with an aging population, [unable] to attract younger people. So, [an enrollment decline is] a bigger problem than just [in U-32]. It’s a whole state problem.”

 

“I was very fortunate for me when I was younger,” said Steven. Starter homes weren’t as expensive as they are now and it makes a significant difference in people’s lives, especially how many young people come to Vermont. 

 

When the current sophomore class, consisting of 145 students, graduates, the decline in overall student enrollment will plummet. Between now and two years in the future, our student population will drop by 50 kids, 25 each year. Steven said, “When you have fewer kids, you have less money because the state doesn’t provide funding for non-parent caregivers and so those all have implications for us. For [U-32], the district is looking at reconfiguration. There are several different proposals out there.” 

 

One of the biggest proposals was to bring the 6th grade to U-32 in the future. “Our building can accommodate it and we can build a stronger middle school program,” said Steven. 

 

Relocation Drills

By Ari Chapin

 

On Tuesday, April 30th, East Montpelier Elementary School (EMES) facilitated an evacuation and relocation drill to U-32 using buses.

 

Relocation drills are required to be performed by the State. U-32 is supposed to practice an evacuation drill where the students and staff relocate. For U-32, it is complicated. “We may try to pull [it] off for U-32, but our relocation sites are not as easy [to get to], and we wouldn’t do it by bus.” There are two such sites, but Steven refused to disclose their locations.

 

U-32 is supposed to do these relocation drills. “We have never done one, not in my time here.” This is primarily because it would be a “big lift” to evacuate U-32, and the high school would have to do it without buses. According to Steven, it “probably isn’t going to happen this year.”

 

Steven learned several things from the experience of EMES relocating to U-32. “We probably need to give them a key so that they can get into the building, just in case we weren’t here for some reason and they needed to relocate here.”

 

U-32’s Stance on Foreign Affairs

By Biruk Alfarone & Dillon Cox

 

There is currently no stance for the staff at U-32 with foreign wars according to principle Steven Dellinger-Pate, “ There’s been no blanket statement…from our staff,” said Steven. 

 

In the atrium hangs a Ukrainian flag, one of many flags that hang above the atrium below the American flag. These flags represent exchange students who have come from other countries. There have been no Ukrainian exchange students; the flag flies instead in support of the Ukraine, which was attacked by Russia in February of 2022. 

 

This is not a political statement according to the principle of U-32: Steven Dellinger-Pate. “In general, as a human being, I don’t want to see anybody suffer,” said Steven.

 

On April 3rd, students from U-32 walked out in support of Palestine in an effort for education on the current Israeli-hamas war. It was student led and was held during an academic period, and several teachers did attend. 

 

In U-32 students can protest in a multitude of ways according to Steven “Gather up the signatures, send a letter to the school board, talk to your students, get your student council involved,” said Steven. 

 

“For us as educators what we need to do is teach you how to do all of those things [protesting], but not tell you what to do,” said Steven, “I would just ask that it doesn’t disrupt our ability to learn about those things, so that we’re not disrupting classrooms.”

 

Additionally, students’ opinions on matters such as foreign policy can be a controversial topic in making sure students protest in a positive manner without offending others. “We just want to make sure that we do it in a way that doesn’t vilify people,” said Steven, “We may have a difference of opinion but I don’t need to call for your destruction.”

 

Where’s Wall Art?

By Ari Chapin

 

Lately, murals have been brightening up the school hallways. Over the past year, three murals have been painted and attached to the walls of U-32. Philip Montenegro and two high school students, Evelyn Rocha and Rheia Schall, created the first mural for the Science wing during the first YES program last year in June.

 

While the creation of these murals is continuing (two murals have appeared in the art hall stairwell recently), admin, surprisingly, has not taken a part in planning for these art installations. “We weren’t pushing for it, but we’re certainly open to [getting] some more color… into the building,” said Steven Dellinger Pate.

 

Although many murals are being put up here at U-32, this phenomenon doesn’t extend out to the elementary schools because individual students and teachers are driving the creation of these murals. In terms of the elementary schools, Steven said they can “decide what art they want on their walls, or color in the school.” And many have. For example, the art wings of U-32 and the elementary schools have pinboards that correspond with the art units that students are in at that moment.

 

One of the recent additions to the school is the mural in the senior lounge. The mural was painted by Ava Shanley. Steven said, “I love the senior lounge, that was beautiful.”

U-32 Budget Revote

By Elsie Koger, Avery Ryan, and Elise O’Brien

 

This article was more applicable to the week before the May budget revote.

 

U-32 has been in the process of making cuts in order to fit the WCUUSD budget next year. After the proposed budget failed, adjustments were needed to align with the cuts. “We’re cutting positions, not people,” said Steven.

 

These reductions look at student enrollment when making these decisions. U-32 has reduced faculty by an english teaching position, a math teaching position, and a social studies teaching position. The elementary schools reduced some art and PE positions. However, “[there will be] no change in students in the district getting their art, PE, and Music [credits] from this year to next year,” Steven said.

 

Reducing positions has been hard on the community. “We unfortunately have to say goodbye to people that we have grown to love and respect and so it’s always tough,” said Steven. He says that the district encourages people who are either already seeking positions or thinking about retirement to move forward with those decisions given the budget. “It’s also necessary with the declining enrollment,” he said.

 

On May 7th, the community will revote on the new budget proposal. “I hate to be pessimistic and so I’m very hopeful that the budget will pass but if it does not we will have to make further reductions,” said Steven. 

 

If the budget does not end up passing there will be changes to programs not just at U-32 but across the district. “I don’t want this to be a threat or a fear,” said Steven. 


The programs that would be cut would be programs that don’t have very many students or programs that are not “core” academics. “[The] core academics are what [we] protect first,” said  

 

Steven mentions that the possibility of cuts in the middle school would be pretty low.  Because there are a lot of kids, it’s not an area they are looking at as much.

 

Another area there most likely wouldn’t have as many cuts in is the arts department at U-32. “The art teachers in our school serve more students than any other teachers,” said Steven.  Because they already have so many students to teach, cuts probably won’t be made there.

 

One area that a lot of students are concerned about is athletics.  If this budget is voted down, athletic programs might be in trouble.  “Athletics and sports is certainly something we would have to look at. There are areas in which we could reduce it, but it would be across the schools,” said Steven.

 

Just because it is something they might have to look at, does not necessarily mean there will be reductions. If there were, the reductions would be spread out between the schools and teams.

 

On a more positive note, Montpelier’s school budget recently passed. “It gives us encouragement because people see that, hey, we can pass budgets,” said Steven. One of their biggest reductions was closing the Roxbury School.

 

Though the outcome of the vote is uncertain, he hopes people can get some kind of hope from this news. Steven said, “I think that it certainly gives people optimism that we can pass our budgets in the second round. And we’re hopeful that the goodwill extends out into our communities as well.”

 

 

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