School Board Notes
The Meetings in Review
Superintendent Dr. David Zerbe provided an update on school consolidation at the work session of the Board of School Directors on September 20. He explained that the Board has received a preliminary draft of the enrollment projections from the consultant, Milone and MacBroom. The report, while not complete, reflects extensive and ongoing research into the District's demographics, real estate market, economy, and recent trends, which has been collected and reviewed with District, Township, and county staff. He noted that the projections cannot be finalized until each school's enrollment is officially reported for this year.
The preliminary projections, which include scenarios forecasting a range of housing and economic conditions, indicate that stagnant or declining enrollment is likely to continue over the next ten years. The various scenarios play out in continuing decline, slow decline with periods of stabilization, and brief decline followed by stabilization. These scenarios align with the previous projection report that the Board received in 2015. "We have been and will continue to carefully review this report to ensure that it can serve as a reliable foundation for planning the future of our schools," Dr. Zerbe said.
A final report and presentation on enrollment is due in mid-late October 2016. In light of this preliminary information and in consideration of the project timeline, the Board voted to approve proceeding forward with Phase II of the project, to include the further engagement of Milone and MacBroom to conduct a study of the capacity of the district's schools, along with multiple scenarios for the Board's consideration relative to redistricting and any potential school closures.
Dr. Zerbe provided the Board and the public with an update on student transportation.
"It is certainly no secret that we struggled at the start of the school year with busing services. A combination of factors led to us beginning school with less than the appropriate routing completed,” Dr. Zerbe noted.
He explained that while apologies are important, action towards correction is critical. He outlined some of the actions taken to date, including:
- The establishment of a call center to field calls and document concerns from parents as well as call parents when changes were made.
- The engagement of bus drivers on a regular basis for feedback on ways to improve routes and address stop locations and lateness.
- The assignment of administrative staff to assist in addressing many of the more erroneous matters.
- Prioritization of issues in order to systematically address concerns, with the safety matters being at the forefront.
- Efforts to expedite communications via the efforts of the call center, through the online portal and via School messenger calls to provide updates to families wherever possible.
- The engagement of additional safety assistance from First Student to physically drive routes and inspect stop locations and safety.
- The engagement of additional routing assistance from First Student to address the late arrivals to all schools including the public, private, parochial schools.
In the long term, Dr. Zerbe explained that he has asked members of his administration to assist with the gathering of information to make a recommendation on how best to proceed forward in the future with routing, administrative oversight, and substantial backup so that the district may never find itself in this same position.
He thanked parents, drivers, and staff for their cooperation and patience as efforts continue to correct the matter.
Other Items of Note
The Board voted to approve the extension of Dr. David Zerbe's contract, appointing him superintendent of schools for a period of three years following the expiration of the current agreement. This new contract will expire in July of 2020.
Hundreds of Methacton School District students were recognized with "M" awards for academic excellence during the 2015-2016 school year. The students listed here were recognized for achieving a 93% or greater cumulative grade point average in all four marking periods last year. The grade levels listed reflect the recognized students' grade levels in 2015-2016.
All items listed on the September 27 agenda were approved.
Junior School Board Directors - September
Pictured above from left to right - School Board President Chris Boardman, Arrowhead Principal Aaron Roberts, Madison Roeger, Charlie Reith, and Superintendent Dr. David Zerbe.