Library Policy Addressed Amid an atmosphere of book banning at the local school level across the U.S., the Montpelier Roxbury Public Schools board affirmed its commitment to critical reading and thinking in an update to its library materials policy at its March 22 meeting. The board also passed actions related to grant and reserve fund spending, and hands-on learning for Montpelier High School students. Library Materials Policy While discussing its “library materials policy monitoring report,” the board grappled with how to be open to the public’s input but also acknowledge student needs along with librarian professionalism and expertise. The board’s statement of intent, revised during this meeting, resolved the issues for the board:“The school district intends to provide a barrier-free, safe, and supportive learning environment for all of our students, one that affirms the identity of each student and acknowledges and celebrates differences to create a sense of belonging for each child. All students should be able to find themselves in the materials available through our libraries and be able to learn and grow in the relative safety of those materials and have access to authoritative resources that promote critical reading and thinking.” Federal Funds Spending The board approved using $1,394,394 in American Rescue Plan–Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds (ARP-ESSER) for renovations at Union Elementary School and Main Street Middle School as well as furnishings for a special education transition space at MHS. The state granted the district’s bid waiver request to allow E.F. Wall & Associates to conduct the district’s multi-site renovations. E.F. Wall did a previous $4,158,000 project for the district in 2019. The district was allocated $2,230,394 in federal ARP-ESSER funds, a condition of which is it must be spent by Sept. 30, 2024. On March 22, the board approved the consent agenda item of spending nearly $1.4 million of these funds. The Bridge requested information from Superintendent Libby Bonesteel about how the remaining $836,000 has been allocated, but did not receive an answer as of press time. Central Vermont Career Center Jody Emerson, superintendent and director of the Central Vermont Career Center (CVCC), presented an update about the center, as it is one year into operating as its own school district. The career center’s annual report can be seen at cvtcc.org/assets/cvcc-annual-report-2023.pdf. Montpelier Roxbury Public Schools sent 35 students to the center in Barre and, according to Michelle Leeman, business manager for the career center school district, “paid a total of $169,247 for this current school year’s tuition.” According to Emerson, the career center offers dual enrollment and “fast forward” programs for students to gain industry-recognized credentials, college credits, and high school proficiency documents. Students in special education receive accommodations and support through case managers. The center partners with post-secondary institutions such as White Mountain Community College and Norwich University to help students gain credits toward an associate degree. Twelve programs are offered this year, including design and fabrication, which is a collaborative program with Vermont Granite Museum; medical professions, which includes certified medical assistant and phlebotomist training; emergency services; plumbing and heating; and others. This year students return to MHS to finish the school day; however, the 1,200-minute-a-week program is considered a full-day program. The center plans to have students spend their entire school day at its programs starting in fall of 2024. Next school year, English and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) credits will be embedded in the center’s classes. The MRPS board meets next on April 5.