At each School Board of Directors meeting, the Board receives various reports from administration. The reports cover the District’s use of resources in Curriculum and Instruction, Facilities, Supplies, Personnel, Policy and more.
Did you know the public can ask questions about the contents of the reports before each one is presented for approval by the Board? This summer, the Board began posting these reports online on the District website the day before each meeting, so people would have time to think about questions they might have. Why is this important? Answers to questions from the public help all of us understand more about the governance of our District.
Did you know the public can ask questions about the contents of the reports before each one is presented for approval by the Board?
Sometimes, a response to a question yields helpful information about other happenings.
At the December 4th School Board meeting some important information was shared during the public’s opportunity to ask questions:
- Regarding the District’s purchase of 14 Visitor Management Systems, the question was would this purchase impact volunteering in the schools? Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Daniel McGarry answered that he, Mr. Daniel Nerelli, Assistant Superintendent of Personnel, and School Board Director Mrs. Judith Gentile visited Radnor School District, and were asking the School Board to authorize purchase of one of the two system models used in Radnor, Raptor. There will be a first reading of the new Volunteer policy in January regarding parent/guardian volunteers in the schools. (Ed. Note: Policies require two readings before voting. Public comment can be made at either reading.)
- As of the Board meeting, only four people had applied to be part of the Comprehensive Planning team. The deadline is today. Visit www.upperdarbysd.org to learn more about this initiative. Although the time for meetings is listed as from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., the District will work with selected applicants to find a time that works best for the committee.
- A question was asked about the District’s hiring of the Labor Counsel and whether it was related to the teacher contract and if there had been any progress with the teachers’ contract. Mr. Nerelli answered that the Labor Counsel deals with hiring and labor decisions. No answer was given about progress toward a contract.
- At a previous meeting, a question was posed about conducting a Transportation study to make it more efficient. The question was asked again. This time, the answer was the Edward Smith, Director of Business Management, and Mr. Kline, Director of Transportation, are in conversations, looking at every way to make it more efficient. (Ed. Note: Rose Tree Media School District conducted a survey, which parents/guardians had to complete in order to receive busing.)
There is also an opportunity to ask questions during the time set aside for Public Comment. Some questions asked included:
- Regarding a request for an update on Angela Duckworth’s work with the School Distrtict, Mr. McGarry stated that the first presentations, which were offered by a colleague of Dr. Duckworth, were not very satisfying and not as good as hoped. Efforts are underway to improve the professional development; however, it was not clear how this would affect things.
- When asked if the Board could ask administration to make a presentation about what Tier I and Tier II behavior referrals are, how they are tabulated and how behavior referrals affect AYP and our curriculum, the answer was yes. The district will provide the community with information about how behavior referrals impact AYP and in turn, the curriculum.
- Currently, there are two District initiatives that need volunteers: The District’s Comprehensive Plan and the Penn Project for Civic Engagement. Asked about the difference between the committees on the website and the Penn Project one, Mr. McGarry clarified that Penn’s committee is focused on the budget while the District committee is involved in comprehensive plan for district. There is no restriction from applying to assist with both initiatives.
Finally, the public can ask questions about what was shared previously. Three highlights of the December 4th meeting included:
Maureen Carey will continue as President; Judy Gentile will serve as Vice President, replacing Bill Gaul in that role (on a sad note, it was shared that Mr. Gaul’s wife passed away).
Penn Project for Civic Engagement:
Comcast has donated 5k to offset costs of the Penn Project for Civic Engagement; local business A&E Construction has donated 1k.
The application for a charter by Delco Community Charter School was denied by the School Board.
Choices Charter, which would aim to create a Kindergarten to grade 8 school, has applied for a charter. The hearing will be Wednesday, Dec. 19th. The School Board did not have flexibility about the date, as the law required a hearing before year’s end.
There was a recent Associated Press report that Federal education officials denied Pennsylvania’s request, which was made after the fact, to assess charter schools using a more lenient achievement measure. This rejection means that PA can’t substitute less stringent AYP standards for Charter Schools, which was done so politicians could say that charter schools outperform public schools. Superintendent of Schools Louis DeVlieger stated that he would “bet his paycheck” that if Charter schools had been measured according to the same standards as traditional public schools that no UDSD school would have been on the list of 15% lowest performing schools in the Commonwealth or PA.
School Board Director Mr. Gordon noted that UDSD is model for how public education should be delivered; but that no model is perfect, and our product should meet the customer’s needs. Since there is 1% of the community interested in charter schools, that means their needs aren’t being met, and the District should continue to reevaluate its program.