Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Board Meeting Recap

September 2015


+  Michelle Lafferty Selected as UE Principal

+  Patton Renovations Update: Tight Schedule but On Track

+  Special Education Presentation: Overview of Laws and Current Trends

+  Wellness Committee: Next Steps

+  Homework Committee: Next Steps

+  Updates to Board Meeting Schedule

+  Policies: Focus on Safety and Security

Michelle Lafferty Selected as Unionville Elementary School Principal

Watch the Board meeting video on our "U" Tube Channel to see Michelle Lafferty being approved as UE's new principal (it's the first few minutes of the meeting).  Michelle has been a 4th grade teacher at UE for 13 years and has worked hard to get her certification and a Doctorate in Education.  Board member Jeff Hellrung said he recognized that the UE community has been through an uncertain period that is now over.  He spoke in glowing terms about Michelle, after which Michelle addressed the audience.  (Her mic wasn't on so turn up your volume.)  

Michelle was accompanied at the meeting by her husband and adorable newborn son.  

Patton Renovations Update: Tight Schedule but On Track

Rick Hostetler updated the Board on the Patton construction project.  The quick update is that the project is on schedule and the plan is to move into the new space over the winter holiday break.  There have been and are challenges, and the project deliverables have been "just in the nick of time".  

Fact Check and Rumor Control about the Middle School Play
There was a rumor about the Patton Middle School play being canceled this year due to construction.  That is not true - there are no renovations being performed to the auditorium and the play is on!

When complete, the renovations will improve security as well as add to and upgrade instructional space.

Click here to see original plan details

Special Education Presentation: Overview of Laws and Current Trends

Attorney Andrew Faust was asked by the Board to provide a brief overview and relevant regulations, trends, and current issues related to providing Special Education services.  He provided the Annual Report from the Office for Dispute Resolution - some highlights of his presentation include:

  • The laws that govern Special Education Services are Federal Civil Rights laws

  • Pennsylvania is a hot spot for due process requests

  • 700-800 due process hearings a year - more than most states

  • 90% are settled prior to hearing because they are hard to defend for a variety of reasons

  • Bottom line - the number of due process requests is not a valid indicator of a good or bad program and settling these cases should not be seen as a failure.  Mr. Faust's advice was to focus on what is best for the individual student.

Click here to read the full report

Wellness Committee: Next Steps

"Unlocking the Potential in All of Us" requires an ongoing commitment and focus on the needs of the "Whole Child".  The Wellness Committee laid out a set of recommendations last year.  Through the budget, expanding social worker services and growing the LINK program have been accomplished.  The committee reconvenes today to review the status of other initiatives.

Concussions was one of the areas of focus for the committee and there is a new section on the Health Services website where parents and staff can find information including contacts, forms, processes, and other resources.

Click here to review the Wellness Committee action plan

Read the original recommendations

Go to the Concussion Website

Homework Committee: Next Steps

Balance is important and, in response to parents' concerns about homework, a committee was formed last year to review the topic.  The committee conducted a thorough review starting at the beginning - seeking answers to basic questions such as; why do teachers assign homework?  what are the benefits? and what guidelines exist?

The committee evaluated primary research and surveyed our students, parents, and teachers.  A report was issued last year.  The findings focused on a few key points - expectation, communication, accommodation, and balance. The next step was for teacher review, professional development, and reflection.  During the August, September, and October inservice days, time has been set aside for teacher review (see slide 16 of the presentation).

The committee will reconvene later this year to review and develop action plans as needed.

Updates to Board Meeting Schedule

The Board meetings in October have been changed to October 19th for the work session and October 26th for the monthly meeting.

Policy Committee

Twice this school year, weapons have been found on our campuses.  The details of these events have been shared with the public and have been cause for much conversation in our community.  This month, the Board revisited its weapons policies and will be revising them to address not only students, but also adults.

John Sanville highlighted that the District is legally required to contact police upon the discovery of weapons on campus.  This requirement goes back to the Safe Schools Act mandates.

Beyond this policy review, John Sanville believes it is time to engage in a community conversation on safety.  It has been a few years since the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook.  At that time, we mourned and reflected and took action leading leading to a 21 point action plan addressing things such as:  policies, procedures, drills, hardening our entrances, the raptor system, increased security, additional surveillance, and other security measures.  It's time to reevaluate and to discuss.  We will schedule a community conversation within the next few months.

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