P-O board reviews school's performance classification|
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
By Terry Whetstone Staff Writer
PHILIPSBURG - The Philipsburg-Osceola School Board held a work session and regular voting meeting last night at the Philipsburg Elementary School.
The board heard information about the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program and there is a wealth of information on the school website for families to review how to be eligible for the program.
The board also discussed the matter of the Osceola Mills Elementary being in the bottom 414 performing schools in the state. While OME is in the bottom 414, district superintendent Dr. Stephen Benson said there will always be a bottom 414 on the list.
It was noted that while OME is low, it has shown adequate yearly progress the past two years. It just has not been enough to get the district above the percentage to keep it from being a low performing school.
The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment scores show the district is going up. Benson said the state never ranked schools before where the information was shared.
Board member Rebecca Timchak asked why, with all of the computers and technology, there are so many issues. Benson said not all students have computers nor do all have access to them. However, it was noted 54 percent of the students entering school now go to head start and pre-school.
Benson said 48 percent of the students are economically disadvantaged and board member Jim Verbeck suggested looking at the entire teaching program and try to improve it.
The board heard that everything is in order at North Lincoln Hill as the renovation project gets underway. The classrooms are set up and the board approved acknowledging the Pennsylvania Department of Education has received PlanCon F.
The board also approved changing the name to the Philipsburg-Osceola Area Middle School. The board granted permission for Reynolds to hire a construction phase commissioning agent and to approve a construction phase materials testing agent.
Timchak asked about the workers and if they have their clearances and a representative from the engineering firm assured her they do.
The board granted permission from maintenance supervisor Don Blake to hold an auction to get rid of the furniture and whatever remains in the Wallaceton and Junior High Schools to close them.
High School Principal Jeffrey Hartmann suggested the board approve silver cords for students who are graduating. He noted how some students already have a gold cords or other colors but some students deserve a cord and don't have one. He suggested if a student can acquire 100 hours of community service time, they will be given a silver cord for graduation. The board approved the request.
Board member Elizabeth Whitehead said she thinks it is a great idea.
During the public comment period, one woman questioned how the Osceola and Philipsburg elementary scores add up. She asked who evaluates the teachers and if some students teach themselves because the teachers are not doing the job. The woman also asked if there are more special education students at Osceola than Philipsburg and if yes, why?
Board president Steve Switala said he would get the answers to those questions and get back to her, but she said the public wants to hear the answers, too. Switala said he would try to have the answers for the next regular meeting in September.
Another guest asked why the parents get PSSA scores within a few months but it takes the state years to come up with the numbers.
She said she knows there have been some very good teachers at the district who had either been moved to other areas or eliminated because they were not teaching a specific way.
Another man questioned the long-term debt of the district and he noted there is $20 million in unidentified bonds. Business manager Mike Conte said the money is for the building project. The guest asked if any of that bond was used elsewhere and Conte said it was not, but the resident disagreed. He said it was and claimed the district is hiding things.
The man also said he did not get all of the right-to-know information he requested. The office staff said he was asked when he picked it up if it was what he was looking for and he said it was.
Switala told the board members their evaluations of Benson are due in before the September meeting to Lisa Thompson, who is Benson's secretary.
Board member Todd Jeffries had a concern about that and asked that district solicitor Winifred Jones-Wenger also be there to review the evaluations. The board will hold an executive session to review and discuss the evaluations prior to the next meeting.
In other business, the board:
• approved medical sick leave to an employee for the 2012-2013 school year.
• approved a medical sabbatical to an employee for the first semester.
• appointed Lisa Thompson as the board secretary through 2016.
• accepted the resignation of Susan Pritchard-Harris as a third grade teacher at OME effective July 31.
• hired Sarah Zschunke as the director of the senior high marching band.
• hired Danielle Parks as the senior high band front advisor.
• accepted the resignation of Phyllis Stratton as Prom advisor.
• appointed Brian Soltys as the board treasurer.
• tabled hiring a secondary science teacher until Aug. 22 when a special meeting will be held at 5 p.m.