Message from the Superintendent
It is my pleasure to present the June edition of the Lower Moreland Township School District Superintendent’s Newsletter. I hope this letter finds you and your family healthy and well.
As the school year comes to a close, our buildings are a whirlwind of activities that are culminating this week and early next week with commencement ceremonies celebrating the achievements of our graduating senior class as well as our 5th and 8th graders. I sincerely thank all stakeholders for your support in our combined efforts toward student success in the 2021-2022 school year. Understandably, there were both challenging and rewarding moments throughout this school year. However, the flexibility and resolve shown by all are to be commended. Everyone’s continued efforts throughout the school year related to the pandemic did not go unnoticed and I thank our students for their resolve as they navigated challenging moments.
Earlier this spring, the Board of School Directors approved the 2022-2023 academic school calendar. Please be reminded that the first student day of school in the 2022-2023 school year will be Tuesday, September 6. The District looks forward to welcoming students and families back after the Labor Day holiday. However, we also encourage everyone to disconnect, unwind and enjoy the summer months by spending time with loved ones and friends.
Congratulations Class of 2022! Have a safe and enjoyable summer!
Scott Davidheiser, Ed.D.
Murray Avenue students attend the PJAS Competition at Penn State
Pine Road's Drama Club performed "The Most Epic Birthday Party Ever"
At the Music in the Parks Competition, Murray Avenue's Choir & LionVoice won Superior ratings & 1st place in their divisions. LionVoice won Best Overall Choir. 3 students won Outstanding Soloist awards.
Business Office (Mark McGuinn, Business Manager)
Thanks to Act 1, the Pennsylvania Taxpayer Relief Act, Lower Moreland Township School District residents will be receiving a reduction in their 2022-23 school tax bill. Through a provision of the law, school districts throughout the state will be receiving revenue generated by legalized gambling as well as Sterling Tax revenue (the sum of (1) resident wages earned within City of Philadelphia and (2) wages earned outside of Philadelphia but not taxed by the school district because of application of the Philadelphia wage tax credit) and this revenue will be used to lower residents’ property taxes.
The property tax reduction will come in the form of a reduction in property’s assessed taxable value, not in the form of a rebate check. When residents receive the tax bills in July, they may notice additional information on their bill noting an assessment reduction (homestead/farmstead exclusion) which equates to a specific reduction in the overall tax bill. Original assessed value totals and original tax liability information will also be noted on the bill.
It is important to note that residents are only eligible for the property tax reduction if they have filed the appropriate homestead/farmstead exclusion form and have been approved for the exclusion by the county’s assessor’s office. The assessment reduction and net overall reduction on the tax bill will be the same for all approved homeowners. In 2021/22, the amount of revenue received helped to reduce eligible taxpayer’s tax burden by $425. The projection for 2022/23 is $507 based on a large increase in gambling revenue received from the State. This increase is the first increase of any materiality since the program began in 2008/09 and is cause for concern if the funding is reduced in future year as this will lower the homestead exemption.
If you did not file this form, you will not be eligible for this year’s property tax reduction. To become eligible next year, please be sure to complete a homestead/farmstead exclusion form. Homeowners who are not approved from the previous year are sent a notification by the County by the end of December of the previous tax year to sign up for the next year. To obtain a form, visit the assessment department on the Montgomery County website (www.montcopa.org) and download the form.
Homestead/Farmstead applications are due by March 1 of every year. Residents who acquire property in the school district after March 1 must wait until the following year to qualify for the exclusion. The county assessor must notify the property owner of the approval or denial of the exclusion no later than 30 days after the applications receipt. Residents who have an approved application on file for their current residence do not need to re-apply annually.
Murray Avenue Drama Club's Production of Annie Jr.
Curriculum and Instruction (Julien Drennan, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Prof. Dev.)
The federal government provided school districts across the country with 13.2 billion dollars in funds as a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The monies were intended to assist schools in navigating COVID-19-related stressors and support the return to in-person school. Funds through the ESSER II and III (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) grants are able to be spent up until the end of the 2024 school year. Lower Moreland has applied their funds to the following priority areas: Student Support, COVID-19 Mitigation, and DEI Initiatives. Here is a summary of how the funds have been used.
Student Support: During the 21-22 school year, the district added Intervention Specialists and Engagement Counselors in order to support students' return to school. These individuals sought to engage with students, provide additional academic assistance, and increase the number of safety nets that address social and emotional needs. Positive indicators that these positions benefitted students include consistently high student attendance rates and increased SAP services and IST support. Additionally, the District prioritized communication and engagement with all families and purchased Talking Points, a multilingual two-way communication tool. Over the course of the 21-22 school year, 78,770 messages were sent in the District. Families were able to select the language in which to receive communications, making information and discourse with staff members more accessible. Finally, hotspots were provided for families who were otherwise unable to secure internet service.
COVID-19 Mitigation: The District was reimbursed for expenditures that aided in COVID-19 mitigation including supplies such as masks, gloves, face shields, cleaning wipes, the sanitization of buses, and the addition of nursing services for student care and contact tracing.
DEI: Through the use of grant funds, the District engaged with a consultant to assist in the training of administrators and teacher leaders, and district representatives participated in diversity job fairs.
While the majority of the funds were expended this school year, the grant will continue to provide for Engagement Counselors at Murray Avenue and Pine Road Schools next year and hotspots will continue to be available for families who demonstrate need.
An additional grant, the ARP ESSER Set Aside grant, provided for after-school program support for English Learners at Pine Road School, Summer Enrichment programs, Trauma-informed professional development, and summer reading materials for students rising to grades 1 and 2. This grant will not expire until 2023-2024, so the remaining funds in that school year will be used to continue the services of the Engagement Counselor at the middle-school level.
Human Resources/Public Relations (Cheryl Galdo, Esq., Dir. of HR/PR)
At the end of this school year, Catherine Siciliano, Business Teacher at Lower Moreland High School, will be retiring. Mrs. Siciliano also acted as the sponsor for the High School's Future Business Leaders of America Club and was instrumental in organizing the annual Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk and the student-run Foundation for Lower Moreland Schools.
The District extends sincere gratitude for her dedicated service and contributions to our school community over the years.
The District is working on the 2021-2022 annual report that will be sent this summer to families of students by email and mailed to non-student households in the community in July. This year's theme is "Building Toward the Future." The report will highlight the progress made toward the building of the new high school. Also included will be 2022-2023 school budget information; a summary of the district's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion activities; and points of pride for students and staff.
The Class of 2022 Visited Pine Road Elementary and Murray Avenue School
Technology (Jason Hilt, Ed.D., Director of Technology)
The Technology Department supports information technology systems and instructional technology programs and practices in the district. Each month, we highlight how our students and teachers engage in 21st Century learning activities. For the final newsletter of the 21-22 school year, we are highlighting innovation and fun at Murray Avenue. From all of us in the technology department, have a safe and enjoyable summer.
The annual field day event at Murray Avenue included an innovative technology component this school year. In addition to volleyball, kickball, and capture the flag, students participated in an outdoor adventure escape room using The Great Game app. The goal of The Great Game is to work together as a team to follow clues to locations on a virtual map and solve riddles to complete the game puzzle. We asked students for their thoughts about this new field day activity. Rehan R. is a seventh-grade student who said, “It was a great experience with my friends, lots of fun, and the virtual map was very useful.” Ava V. and Victoria Z. are eighth-graders who commented, “The Great Game was a nice change of pace for field day. We use technology each day in school, so it was nice to use technology differently while competing against classmates. We were able to walk and run around campus during the game, promoting health and wellness while having fun!”
A group of seventh-grade students volunteered to join the new Murray Avenue Student Tech Team. During the spring semester, the student tech team participated in activities to help prepare them to lead the student tech team in the 22-23 school year when they are eighth-graders. With the assistance of Mrs. Kepner, Mr. Perez, and Dr. Hilt, the student tech team ambassadors participated in hands-on activities with mobile devices, workstations, and peripherals. They identified areas of interest to focus on in the spring and displayed enthusiasm and teamwork while engaged in the tech repair activities. They concluded the year with a planning session to set goals for next school year. Here is a short video of the student tech team members in action: https://youtu.be/IQWs9pql7ro
Student Services (Frank Giordano, Director of Special Education and Student Services)
As the school year winds down the Office of Student Services and Special Education would like to wish parents and students a safe and relaxing summer. We would also like to remind all parents of students with IEPs to continue to work with your child during the summer months to reinforce skills and help them prepare for next school year. If your child has been found eligible for Extended School Year, please take advantage of those services as they are provided to prevent regression in skills during extended breaks.
In order to assist with the reinforcement of fine motor skills for some of our younger students during the summer months our Occupational Therapist, Mrs. Hill, has provided the following list of activities you can do with your Kindergartner or First Grader to reinforce fine motor skills.
Games: Operation, Kerplunk, Pop Up Pirate, Hi Ho Cheerio, Don't Spill the Beans, Sneaky Snaky Squirrel, Rush Hour Jr, Kanoodle, Mental Blox, Giggle Wiggle, Twister
Other Items: Puzzles (24+), Small Legos, Hidden picture books, Activity books/coloring books
Apps: Handwriting Without Tears, Dexteria Jr, iTrace, iWrite Words
Fun way to practice writing: Trace letters in the sand, sidewalk chalk, shaving cream, make letter “roads” for cars to drive on, fill a bag with hair gel for long car rides and the kids can practice their letters and site words, use magic paint (water and a paint brush) outside, build letters with rocks/sticks.
Lower Moreland Township School District