Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Healthy & Educated Citizenry: AEDs and Civics for All

April Pupil Services Committee Meeting
Committee members in attendance:  Chair Linda Raileanu, Heidi Adsett, Maria Pimley, Sue Tiernan
Non-committee members in attendance:  Board President Vince Murphy, Vice-President Karen Miller, Sean Carpenter, Ed Coyle, Maureen Snook

The meeting begins with an enthusiastic and informative presentation from Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS), the agency that provides various therapies to District students.

Automated External Defibrillator (AED) replacement plan
Pupil Services Director Dr. Ranieri informs us that the District has 30 AEDs throughout the 16 schools in the District.  Of the 30, 26 will be out of warranty by January 2014, so she is asking the Board to budget approximately $20,000 to purchase 16 new units, with a plan to gradually replace older units.  The cost to repair is $1200/unit, the cost to purchase is $1340/unit with 7-year warranty and there is a $50-$100 rebate per working unit returned.

In addition to introducing the replacement plan, Dr. Ranieri provides a handout concerning  Senate Bill 606, also known as Aidan’s Law,  in honor of Aidan Silva, a seven-year-old Chester County resident who succumbed to sudden cardiac arrest on September 4, 2010.   If passed,  SB 606 would  appropriate $3 million dollars from the Tobacco Settlement Fund.  In 2001, nearly $2.5 million was appropriated from the Fund to place nearly 2000 AEDs in public and private schools.  The Department of General Services would seek bids to purchase the number of AEDs needed and  the PA Department of Education would then assist  schools in acquiring units at a subsidized price.    

A comment from Board member Mrs. Adsett concerning the  “ timing”  of this budget request:  if we need AEDs, we should get them because we need them and not because “the government” tells us to do so.  Dr. Ranieri clarifies,  noting that current warranties will expire in 2014, so this notice serves as the beginning of the District’s AED replacement plan. The fact that a bill currently exists in the PA legislature that may make purchases less burdensome for districts across the state is coincidental.  In effect,  analysis of AED replacement is due and Dr. Ranieri simply wanted to make the Board aware of current legislation that, if passed, may alleviate some of the cost. 
Maria Pimley does a nice job of bringing the meeting back to task by asking if AEDs are checked on a regular basis. Dr. Ranieri assures her they are and it is the responsibility of the school nurse to perform regular checks.  Dr. Pimley also clarifies with Dr. Ranieri that the AED budget request is the beginning of the District’s AED replacement plan and not an outcome of any proposed legislation. Dr. Ranieri concurs and the “government control” talk is quelled. Both Dr. Pimley and Chair Linda Raileanu stress the importance of proper placement of AEDs in school facilities (near gyms, athletic fields, etc.).  Ed Coyle tells us that the AEDS in his workplace were recently replaced and President Vince Murphy ends the discussion echoing Mrs. Adsett's remarks by reminding the Board they are not depending on the passage of a law to approve this budget request.

Devereux Billing Process
Dr. Ranieri prefaces her report with the fact that she received an inquiry from  the Board concerning the payment process for students at Devereux, a residential facility.    To explain the billing process, we are provided an example:  a student from the Reading School District resides at Devereux. Since that student is sleeping in our (WC) district, we are responsible for his/her education, services WC contracts through the Chester County Intermediate Unit.   WC requests a residency verification from Reading and if “acknowledged”, CCIU then bills Reading School District for education services plus 5% administrative fee.  A board member asks what happens if Reading does not pay.  Dr. Ranieri cites a 96% return rate from CCIU,  stating that is not really an issue.   If residency verification is “disclaimed”,  District petitions PA Department of Education and student becomes ward of state.  WC bills PDE for tuition, and state can take funds from district subsidy.

Chair Linda Raileanu is grateful for the explanation but expresses doubt to Dr. Ranieri and remains  concerned that the system does not always work per her explanation.  Ed Coyle concurs, stating that he has heard that Philadelphia is a “slow pay”.  Dr. Ranieri admits that PDE has withheld some payments but that matter is being investigated.  In the end,  Ms. Raileanu is reassured that WCASD is not using our tax dollars to pay for "other" districts.  Maria Pimley once again wisely ends the discussion, questioning if a district can fight with PDE if  they feel a student is not a resident of their district.  Dr. Ranieri's answer:  they can try.

April Education Committee meeting
Committee members in attendance:  Chair Maria Pimley,  Linda Raileanu, Heidi Adsett,  Sue Tiernan
Non-committee members in attendance:  Board President Vince Murphy, Vice-President Karen Miller, Sean Carpenter, Ed Coyle, Maureen Snook

New Middle School Technology Text
Paul Joyce reports on a new middle school Technology education textbook, Engineering and Technology Education,  that will be used for all students taking Technology Education in grades 6,7 and 8.  In lieu of purchasing one textbook per student, classroom sets will be purchased.  The decision was unanimous by all 11 members of the committee, which included Dr. Pimley as Board representative.   The cost for books is approximately $12,000, well under the $16,000 allotted for purchase.   Noting the books will remain in classrooms and not travel home with students and the fact that topics covered are general, Mr. Joyce expects the textbooks to last approximately 10 years.  

Kindergarten Update
Dr. Missett reports there are currently 658 students registered, with a projected enrollment of 673. She does not expect the numbers to impact staffing needs.  In addition, she is confident each session of A Child’s Place supplemental Kindergarten program will have 17 children.  After 17 children, the District will begin a profit-sharing plan with ACP which will produce additional revenue. 

Social Studies/Library services
Elisha Ozer, K-12 Social Studies/Library Supervisor provides overview of Social Studies and Library programs across WCASD.  We learn that approximately 30,000 books are circulated per year in District libraries.  Concerning Social Studies curriculum, Dr. Ozer stresses that "consistency is key" throughout elementary, middle and secondary schools. As discussed at numerous previous committee meetings by various administrators,   "consistency" also translates to curriculum alignment with current and proposed  Keystone exams.    Tonight, Dr. Ozer mentions the following  proposed Keystone exams: Government and Civics in 2016-17, American History in 2017-18 and World History in 2020-21.  We are, however,  once again reminded that all of these tests are  dependent on funding.    Here,  Board member Mrs. Snook asks “what that means".  Dr. Ozer, complimenting her on a  great question, explains that as it stands now,  the local entity (WCASD) would be responsible for funding these exams. 
Mrs. Snook continues, wondering about all of this “top down”  stuff, because she has heard that some states are finding it is "not necessarily a good thing".  Dr. Ozer assures Mrs. Snook that Social Studies skills and standards adopted by WCASD are indeed a good thing.  Curriculum Director Dr. Fraser agrees and both he and  Dr. Ozer promise  to share those standards with Mrs. Snook, who appears pleased, uttering an affirmative "Good".   

From Dr. Ozer's PowerPoint presentation to the Board and those in attendance that evening:

“…Education for citizenship should help students acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives.Competent and responsible citizens are informed and thoughtful, participate in their communities, are involved politically, and exhibit moral and civic virtues.” National Council of Social Studies, 2008

"Top down" or not, one questions how and/or why Mrs. Snook would question such standards.

Dr. Fraser continues to address Mrs. Snook's concerns,  asserting that Common Core - what we all assume the “top down ” refers to - does not dictate District curriculum, which is still decided right here in West Chester.  To answer Mrs. Snook's concern about why some states are not happy with "top down", Dr. Fraser explains  that while some states  may appear unhappy with the “top down” standards, they  are not necessarily protesting the Common Core standards, but rather the testing consortium and the financial issues surrounding assessments.   

And the final  "top down"  question from Mrs. Snook:  is this   “top down” stuff related to  Race to the Top?    This is an interesting question because while most would agree with Dr. Fraser's emphatic "No",  Conservative media personality Glenn Beck and Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin have charged that President Obama’s Race to the Top has indeed “enabled” Common Core.   In addition, some states are seeking withdrawal from Common Core Standards for reasons other than the financial ones cited by Dr. Fraser and more along the lines of Mrs. Snook's "top down" argument.  For more on this, Education Week has an excellent legislative   "tracker" system for states seeking withdrawal and pertinent legislation introduced.

And so  we  prepare to adjourn for the evening, safe and happy in the knowledge that we in WC are no slaves to the tyranny of "top down" government.  No, our local Board alone will decide how many AEDs are needed and continue to enable our staff to craft an appropriate education for our students.   In the end,  the only "top down"  government needed in West Chester to guarantee a healthy and educated citizenry is our local school board.   Board members and voters alike, please remember that. 


YOU can help contribute to a healthy and educated citizenry:   On April 23, West Chester Communities that Care will host a Town Hall at Henderson High School, 7PM.   The theme of the evening is - Our Children At Risk:  Drugs, Alcohol, Stress.  WCASD Superintendent Dr. Jim Scanlon and Mayor Carolyn Comitta will be present and Christine Storm from the Caron Foundation will speak.  There will be a panel of experts to answer questions and teens (grades 5-12) are encouraged to attend with their families.


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