In Attendance: Vince Murphy, Dr. Maria Pimley, Sean Carpenter, Ed Coyle, Sue Tiernan, Maureen Snook, Linda Raileanu
Noting the overwhelming amount of public comment on the IRRC website conveying opposition to the use of Keystones as graduation requirements - not to mention those opposed to PA Core Standards- you may be asking yourself how this happened. How is it that five people , two appointed by House and Senate Democrats, two appointed by House and Senate Republicans, and one Governor-appointee, have the final word on using the Keystone Exams as graduation requirements? How is it that parent/taxpayer letters, school board resolutions, and superintendents' position letters carry such little weight for these five people? How is it that the PA Department of Education/State Board of Education can confidently promise producing a new and improved college-and-career ready student, yet cannot come up with a more creative and equitable way to assess our schools, teachers and students than through the continued use of high-stakes testing? Discouraged? In times like these, we recommend finding some comfort in the inspiring national grassroots movements to end high-stakes testing at United Opt Out.
Policies: The District Wellness Policy was adopted and is now in effect. Policy KM-School Visitors and Policy KMA-School Volunteers were approved for a first reading and will be placed on December agenda for second reading. As discussed in an earlier blog, the District hopes these policies will keep our students safer by requiring background clearances for school volunteers.
Intermediate Unit report: Mr. Coyle reports the IU Board was treated to a robotics demonstration and the 2014-15 IU calendar was approved.
PSBA/Legislative report: Once again this month, Mrs. Snook presents the trinity of legislative priorities in PA - transportation, liquor privatization and pension reform and reports that at least one, transportation, has been resolved. She continues, making a few comments on the transportation bill and hopes the best for the state's remaining legislative priorities. Mrs. Snook notes the outcome of the 11/21 Independent Regulatory Review Commission meeting and makes general mention of charter and pension reform, which she assumes will be forthcoming.
Charter School report: Mrs. Tiernan takes the hints dropped by Mrs. Snook, fleshes them out and leads us from the tunnel of obscurity to the light of clarity. In recounting her attendance at the 11/21 IRRC hearing, she reminds us that the costs of remediation associated with the Keystone Exams for WCASD are between $366-498,000/year. (One wonders whether the proposal to hire three secondary Biology specialists at $250,000+ is included in this estimate.) Mrs. Tiernan continues, informing us that SB 1085 is out of committee and PSBA continues to work with legislators to attempt to craft a better version of this charter/cyber reform bill. During its time in the Appropriations Committee, SB 1085 did see some changes to the pension piece and added a provision to form a commission to study the issue. Opposition to the bill still exists from public education and charter/cyber advocates. Check out Education Law Center and PA Families for Public Cyber Schools for arguments and keep an eye out for action/inaction in Harrisburg in the few session days left before the holidays.
Public Comment: Residents give thanks to outgoing Board members and, in particular, express gratitude for Karen Miller's work on Board. The remaining comments duplicate much of what has been said in the months leading up to the election: teachers, parents and students calling for "transparency", healthy negotiations, an end to politics on Board, etc. Difference: this time, the remarks are expressed with the conviction that the incoming Board will deliver just that.
Some teachers attempt public "comments" after adjournment and an explanation/rebuttal appeared on the WCAEA website following the meeting.
The incoming Board will be sworn in on December 2 and much is expected of them. While one is confident all Board members will work together to continue to move this community forward, change will not be immediate. And while some may feel they have "won" because the election is over, please do not use that temporary bliss to justify dormancy until the next round of seats is up in 2015. Each and every one of us remains a critical part of the process of change, and we encourage you to remain awake and involved in that process.
Have a safe and beautiful holiday weekend - see you in December.
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." John F. Kennedy