All Board Members, with the exception of Sean Carpenter, were in attendance for both meetings. Although, I could swear I saw him in the hallway as I was leaving. Maybe there was an Executive Meeting afterwards, but I didn't hear an announcement...
Dr. Ranieri mostly presented for the Pupil Services meeting. She is phenomenal at what she does. I was on the parent committee that interviewed people for her position a few years back. And, yes, she was my number one pick! Pupil Services deals with gifted and special education. Her department is looking into trying not to send students to outside programs. They are trying to keep our tax dollars in our schools. Right now for one program, the District spends $30,000 per student on services provided by the CCIU (Chester County Intermediate Unit). The School District is required to provide services for some students until the age of 21. These students are taught life skills by spending time in an apartment set up by the IU where they can learn skills such as cooking and cleaning and things that they will need to live on their own. She expects 6 students to be recommended to participate in the program next year. She feels that the District can run this program at the same cost for next year (since there will start up costs for the program), but moving forward will prove to be more cost effective for the school district.
Our Gifted Education Supervisor retired and the District cut 2 gifted teaching positions as a result of the last Budget Task Force (went from 10 to 8 teachers). Responsibilities have been transferred and the department in analyzing impacts of reduction in resources and services that have been recommended by the Second Budget Task Force. They also are looking at the possibility of implementing a pilot program with a model called Total School Cluster Grouping that would cluster gifted students together in mixed ability classrooms. Dr. Ranieri also mentioned that the middle school gifted program will be moving to a 6-day cycle so that those students will be provided more opportunities for acceleration, not just enrichment.
There was a short presentation from the Education Foundation. The West Chester Area Education Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization with the mission of supporting educational experiences that will connect our District curriculum with real-world experiences. Their goal is to foster reciprocal partnerships that enhance our educational programs while providing benefits to the business community. To date, they have raised over $14,000. The Education Foundation provides opportunities for children in all grade levels to achieve their personal best through internships, career awareness programs, LifeSkills Training, and mini-grants for teachers. Contributions are tax deductible if you are interested. They are also looking for more ways to connect the students to the real-world, so if you have any ideas, let them know. Check out the http://www.wcasd.net/ website for more info.
Dr. Marc Bertrando is the Assistant Superintendent. He oversees curriculum and instruction along with Dr. Fraser. I was on one of the Budget Task Force Committees that Dr. Bertrano chaired. I think that he does a fantastic job! His whole department is top-notch! We are fortunate to have such a talented team of administrators in our District. There was a report from Dr. Bertrando about a Physical Education Study that the Board asked him to do back in October. The Board said that they would like to know how our Phys Ed and Health credit requirements compare to other Districts. (At the time, they said that they received complaints that people thought the credit requirements were too high. I think I only saw one person ever speak out about it though.) WCASD ranks 5th out of 14 school districts in the number of PE credits that it requires. The committee is going to continue to work to create a strategic plan for the department to reassess PE and Health to connect standards and assessments within the current program while considering more progressive approaches.
Dr. Missett, Director of Elementary Education, reported on an Exit Survey that the School Board requested in November. The School Board wanted to know why “so many students” were leaving our schools. It was determined that, in reality, a very small number of students leave the WCASD to go to charter, cyber, military, private and religious schools. At the Secondary level more kids returned to the District than left. 99 left, but 124 returned to the WCASD. At the Elementary level, more than half of the students that transferred did so because the families moved out of the District. Moving forward, updates to the District PowerSchool program will enable administration to track this data easier.
Property and Finance meeting will be next week - Tuesday, January 17th @ 6:30pm at the Spellman Building. Perhaps the 3 Phases of Budget Cuts will be unveiled.