A brief summary of the topics presented and information shared during discussion is provided below.
Last school year there was much discussion among District Voice members regarding fees charged to organizations using District facilities. This spring, the Board approved revisions to Board Policy 707: Use of School Facilities. The revised policy includes a restructuring of fees charged to support organizations such as PTO/PAC, Boosters, etc. For example, fees are no longer charged should the facility use occur when custodial/support staff is already scheduled. Only when the facilities are requested for use in the evening or on weekends when staff will be called in to provide access, clean up, lock up, etc. does a fee now exist for those groups.
West Shore Marching Band
The West Shore Music Boosters will host the West Shore Classic Marching Band Competition on Saturday, September 19 at 6 p.m. at the stadium. This is the inaugural show for the merged band. In the past, Cedar Cliff and Red Land High School marching bands each hosted separate competitions.
Transitioning to a merged West Shore Marching Band has been very successful and the musicians’ performances at school events and in the community have been well received. Some football fans have expressed concern/disappointment that the band does not perform at away games; citing the band as a source of support and encouragement to the team, especially during tight competition.
Recent High Temperatures
Concern was voiced regarding non-air conditioned schools and the high temperatures we have experienced in the area since the start of the school year. There is no policy wherein a school would be closed due to high temperatures. Dismissing students due to heat would impact bus schedules, etc., as well as create an imbalance in instruction with students attending climate-controlled buildings. However, Dr. Stoltz shared that the District is working to address the issue and encouraged a coordination of ideas. Suggestions currently meriting further discussion include finding additional resources (fans, etc.) to lower the temperature in classrooms and planting trees to provide shade to rooms and playground equipment.
Math Instruction Update
New Math Series information nights have been scheduled for elementary parents. The sessions will be held in the Cedar Cliff and Red Land High School auditoriums to provide a bigger venue for parents.
The group briefly discussed math credits surrounding the .5 credit for Statistics. It is difficult to get four math credits during high school if the student takes PreAlgebra/Algebra in middle school.
Concern was expressed regarding the cumbersome process for obtaining state mandated clearances to volunteer. Recent changes made by the state have added to the confusion. Information about volunteer procedures and guidelines are available on the District website, and Dr. Stoltz welcomed suggestions for ways the District can further simplifying volunteer requirements. He recommended a District-wide process rather than individual organizations each developing their own instructions and indicated the District is expecting further guidance from the state on how schools are expected to screen volunteers.
A specific question was raised regarding the District’s position on field trip chaperones. The District does consider field trip chaperones volunteers.
While there is much discussion surrounding standardized testing, and specifically the Keystone exams, nothing official has been voted on by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).
PSSA results will be sent home with students on Friday, September 18, 2015. Currently, PDE is reviewing School Performance Profile (SPP) information and considering other factors that may be included to indicate a school’s performance. SPP results are very dependent on standardized test data.
There was some discussion regarding school budgets. Building principals are provided with an allocation that they distribute across grades and programs. These funds typically cover classroom supplies and resources. Dr. Stoltz shared that he encourages principals to discuss building needs with their staff and PTO/PAC so that the groups can work together to identify those areas needing funding. Dr. Stoltz also responded to a comment that music instruments are in disrepair due to lack of funds. Monies are available to the music departments to maintain and replace instruments.
A District Voice representative shared other possible financial avenues that can be pursued to help offset costs, such as The Foundation for Enhancing Communities (TFEC).
West Shore Foundation
Discussion on South Middleton School Districts’ plans to organize a non-profit foundation predicated discussion on the newly invigorated West Shore Foundation. The West Shore Foundation has been working with a consultant for the past year and has hired an Executive Director, Mrs. Catherine Mentzer. Committees have been created in order to support the efforts of the Foundation. The community is encouraged to visit the Foundation’s new website and get involved.
Members of the group shared how impressed they have been with the addition of Mrs. Patty Craig, Director of Elementary Education, to the District.
The District continues to monitor enrollment shifts and class sizes. So far this school year, student enrollment at New Cumberland Middle School has been larger than predicted and at Allen Middle School, enrollment has seen a decrease. Efforts will continue to be made to predict shifts in student population as a result of new developments and housing in District attendance areas.
It was shared that a local Red Land graduate, Brian Keefer, is available for public speaking engagements.
Community members are reminded they can submit ideas for future topics of discussion to any District Voice representative. Speakers to be invited to the next meeting include Mrs. Patricia Craig, Director of Elementary Education, and Mrs. Catherine Mentzer, Executive Director, West Shore Foundation.
Next Meeting: November 18, 2015