As we enter into the "Holiday Season" we reflect upon the gifts we have been given in the past and create a new wish list. In the WCASD, we are blessed with a fabulous slate of administrators, talented teachers, the lowest taxes in the county and some of the top schools in the state. We are also fortunate to have thriving communities along with great property values. People want to move to West Chester because of the schools; whether for academics, sports, or both, the WCASD has much to offer.
A large part of the November meeting paid tribute to Marc Bertrando and the gift he has been to our school district. Dr. Bertrando ends his 20 year career at the WCASD and begins anew as Superintendent at Garnet Valley. Dr. Scanlon began his remarks about Bertrando's time in our District by going over interview notes from Marc's progression from English teacher to Assistant Superintendent. He pointed out that Dr. Bertrando was continually recognized over the years for leading by example with focus and enthusiasm for student achievement. Many Board Members followed suit in expressing their admiration for Marc's commitment to education and our District. We all wish Dr. Bertrando well as he begins his new position. Garnet Valley has a Board that will be amenable to Administration and their expertise when making decisions to better education for their children while balancing the needs of the community. I am sure a favorable educational climate will enhance the gifts that Marc Bertrando will bring to their District.
The District posted the highlights of the November Board Meeting. All agenda items passed unanimously. All committee meetings were covered in the previous blogs.
Mrs. Snook, our Legislative Representative and PSBA Liaison, said that it was a quiet time, in general, for legislation. Although, she again reminded us of the impending doom of the "fiscal cliff". She recommended visiting the PSBA site to find out what is going on. www.PSBA.org
Hopefully we Pennsylvanians will receive a gift soon. Our State is FINALLY choosing to seek a waiver from the federal "No Child Left Behind" legislation, which in its current form calls for ALL students (regardless of the studen't learning ability) to test proficient in reading and math on annual state achievement exams by 2014.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette - No Child Left Behind Waiver Sought by Pennsylvania
DLN - PA to Seek Waiver from No Child Left Behind
Mrs. Tiernan, our Charter/Cyber School liaison, reported that she visited most of the charter and cyber schools that WCASD children attend and plans to visit the schools in our District in order to form a comparison. She noted a recent update about a change in how Charter Schools calculate AYP. It was determined that Education Secretary Ron Tomalis did not wait for federal approval when he made the change that made it easier for charter schools to meet federal testing benchmarks than traditional public schools over the summer at the bequest of the charter school industry. The change may have inflated the success rate of charter schools because testing rules were more lenient for charter schools, The federal government ordered the state Department of Education, by January, to recompute and publicize charter schools' 2011-12 AYP grades in the same manner as public schools. Click here to read more about this. She also said that our School Board will be hearing an application for a new charter school trying to open in our District at the next school board meeting on December 17th.
Comments from Residents:
Once again, in a prepared statement, Mr. Murphy, our Board President, read an update on the status of negotiations. I'm not sure if it is the intention of the PR Firm hired to write these statements or not, but they are always very condescending in my opinion. Coupled with the fact that our School Board Members REFUSE to actually attend the negotiations sessions in spite of the many pleas from teachers and taxpayers, I can see why the teachers feel disrespected. Mr. Murphy even chuckled along with the teachers when he read the part about how a new contract would be a wonderful holiday gift to the teachers, students and taxpayers. Board Statement
Deb Fell, WCAEA teachers union President, found Mr. Murphy’s comments to be disappointing and was hoping to have discussions at the bargaining table and not at board meetings. She asked that they put aside their differences and work together to reach a settlement. She questioned if it was the intent of the Board to continually paint the teachers association in a bad light to the public and called for him to be truthful. According to Fell the teachers have moved almost 19 million in givebacks from the association’s original proposal while the board has not changed their offer either monetarily or in contract language from the initial proposal submitted by the Board. Ms. Fell respectfully requested that the board begin to truly negotiate and not just dictate. She quoted a comment from a the previous board meeting, “two monologues do not make a dialogue”. Ms. Fell concluded that she feels this board does not appear to be interested in coming to a fair and equitable settlement with the teacher’s association.
She's got a valid point since the school board has yet to show any interest in attending the negotiations meetings. I guess this is what happens when the Board Members on the Negotiations Team have no ties to the District. Although maybe one of them benefits from the high property values in West Chester, none of them have kids in the school district. It makes no difference to them.
If you'd like to read more about the school board meeting:
Patch - School Board President Optimistic