Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Board Meeting Recap

March 2016

Topics for the Month

  • Next Round of Patton Middle School Renovations Approved

  • Keystone Test Requirements Modified by the State

  • Patton Middle Schoolers to get Chromebooks Next Year

  • Class Rank Reporting Policy Changed

  • Strategic Plan Update

Links are provided to key reference documents and specific "scenes" within the Board video stream.  

Access all documents and videos on the Board web page.

Next Round of Patton Middle School Renovations Approved

The next round of renovations to Patton Middle School will focus on the auditorium.  As background, these renovations are part of a 10-year capital plan.  The Board developed this plan with the Buildings and Grounds team so that facilities keep pace with program needs and so that funding needs can be better anticipated and managed over time.  Funds for the next phase are available and will not require any additional borrowing.

Keystone Exam Requirements Modified by the State

Keystone Exams are still required but will not be a graduation requirement until class of 2019.  Previously the graduation requirement was to begin with the class of 2017.

Background:  Keystone Exams were developed by the State to replace PSSA tests.  When fully implemented, Keystone Exams were planned to be a graduation requirement.  Questions have arisen around remediation and alternatives for students who do not pass the test.  The delay in implementation will allow the State to work with school administrators to develop practical alternatives and options.

See the FAQ's provided from the State for more details.

For now, the District has decided to keep the test as a UHS graduation requirement for the class of 2017.  For those who take the test and are not proficient, they will;

  • Take a 4-day remediation program (over the summer) with its own assessment before retaking the Keystone a second time.

  • If these students do not pass the Keystone the second time but do pass the remediation program assessment, they will qualify for graduation

  • If they pass neither the Keystone nor the remediation program assessment, they will be allowed to complete a project-based assessment.

Also… The current senior final exam exemption will be abolished starting with the freshman class (Class of 2019).  Beginning in 2019, these students will be required to take finals.

Patton Middle Schoolers to get Chromebooks Next Year

This project has been a topic of conversation over the past few months and in this meeting a few key decisions were made.  The implementation of this new Ed Tech foundation will be phased in over the next few years, starting at Patton.

  • All Patton students will receive a Chromebook next year.  This piece of equipment is seen as essential to the educational program and will be supplied by the District to students (a $20 insurance fee option will be included).  Parents will also be permitted to purchase the Chromebooks.

  • All courses (grades 6 - 9) will be managed through the Canvas Learning Management System starting this Fall (2016).  All Patton educators will receive professional development to support this initiative.

  • UHS will continue to implement Canvas next year using classroom Chromebook carts.  

  • The requirement for grades 10-12 to be managed through Canvas will be one year after Patton (Fall of 2017).  

  • All UHS teachers will receive professional development in the use of Canvas and, over the next year, they will move their course resources from their individual websites to Canvas.

Class Rank Policy - Decile Reporting

Hours and hours of conversation, research, deliberation, and debate have resulted in the Board's approval of a new Class Rank Reporting Policy.  The new policy eliminates class rank reporting to colleges.  The administrative guidelines will address issues brought up during these discussions.

The Board synthesized the community's input into four major issues:

  • Timing?

  • How else can we provide context (some kind of distribution on school profile)?

  • How can we provide recognition for top academic students?

  • Can we allow for selective disclosure?

Click here to watch the Board deliberations.  In the end, the decision was made to

  • Implement this policy starting with the class of 2017.

  • Provide context by supplying grade point average distribution information in the UHS School Profile (available on the UHS website)

  • Provide recognition for top academic students (details to be worked out)

  • No selective disclosure (except where required by the college)

Strategic Plan

The Board committee reported that they had found a suitable vendor for this project.  The Board has decided to delay further deliberation and action on this project pending further discussion and review of next year's budget.

Board member, Michael Rock, voiced objections and concerns about the process.  I usually avoid referencing specific member comments but in this case Mr Rock's bring up concerns about school board processes and so I point you to his comments (Click here to watch).  John Sanville's' response can be viewed here.

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