Ruby McAdoo

Ruby McAdoo

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PUTNEY — Ruby McAdoo, a familiar face at Windham Southeast School District Board meetings, is poised to join the board.

In the March 7 election, McAdoo is running unopposed for a three-year seat representing Putney. Board member Liz Adams decided not to seek reelection and expressed confidence in her would-be successor.

McAdoo has followed the board’s work since the merger, participating in board meetings and serving on the Putney Central School Leadership Council, and the district’s Communications Council and the Independent Budget Review Committee. For more than 10 years, she has provided administrative support to the Putney Food Co-op Board.

“Through work with the co-op and from previous employment for a consulting group supporting cooperatives nationwide, I learned a great deal about policy governance,” she said. “I believe this knowledge and my dedication to our district can help the WSESD develop systems of governance that will strengthen our district as a whole.”

WSESD is “still in its infancy,” McAdoo said. She described the merged district getting off to “a rough start.”

“Inevitably, the focus of the WSESD board has been on navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and building a relationship with three different superintendents,” she said. “In addition, the WSESD board has had to ensure that the investigation of sexual assault and abuse at BUHS was properly established and is moving forward.”

Acknowledging work on those issues is “critically important,” McAdoo also considers it distracting from some of the other essential projects that should be deemed priorities such as strengthening systems of governance, enhancing communication between the board and the community, and building back a connection between the board and individual schools in the district.

McAdoo said the district’s Policy and Amendment Committee is “hard at work updating and creating systems for ensuring district policy is updated.”

“This has been a pleasure to watch unfold and is an excellent example of what is starting to work,” she said. The board “has heard from administrators that the merged district is working from the perspective of resource sharing. From a board perspective, this merged district has challenged their ability to understand what is happening in each of the schools in the WSESD. I see this as a growing pain of this newly merged district and a dilemma that requires focused attention.”

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McAdoo sees the board’s role in the sexual abuse investigation underway as being to ensure the process is functioning and moving forward, without being involved in the investigation itself. She said she’s curious to see the results and recommendations for systemic changes.

Believing transparency to be something the board should always be striving for, McAdoo doesn’t see it as a pressing issue for the district. However, she does think communication can be improved both from the board and administration.

She recommends the board utilize school leadership councils to more effectively share and gather information, and come up with a method for clear and concise community updates, such as a summary from the board that could be included in individual school newsletters and on social media. She suggests the Communications Council could help make the ideas a reality.

McAdoo said there’s never enough focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and there can never be enough emphasis on social justice. She called the concepts “immensely important at a governance and curricular level.”

“They are a reflection of our humanity, compassion and acceptance of all members of our community,” she said. “I have been impressed with the district focus in DEI and social justice work, but this is just the beginning. That focus must deepen and we must strive to center these concepts in all the work of the WSESD.”

McAdoo said she’s excited to continue the board’s work on developing good governance systems.

“I think this will require regular trainings to remind us of the distinctions between the work of governance versus administration,” she said, referring to professional development sessions. “I also believe that many WSESD community members believe the board is out of touch with what is happening at their individual schools.”

Her plan is to propose a return to rotating board meetings in all the schools in the district. She also would like the board to develop a recommended schedule of school and classroom visits by board members to allow them to see firsthand what’s happening inside.