School Board Notes
January is School Board Director Recognition Month
Amanda Kelly, Coordinator of School and Community Information, delivered a presentation during the January 21 regular meeting to recognize the Board of School Directors. January is School Board Director Recognition Month. It’s a time for school districts and their school community to salute the critical efforts of nine hardworking individuals who volunteer many hours outside of their lives with their families and careers to lead our schools. Ms. Kelly developed a video (see above) in which Methacton elementary school students shared what they knew about the Board. Each School Director was also presented with a certificate of appreciation for their service to Methacton School District.
Meetings in Review
Dr. Zerbe presented his re-imagined strategic plan at the January 21 meeting of the Board. He shared that it is one that will keep our mission, vision and core values at the forefront while providing a plan structured under one important and memorable goal that will unite our organization and our community to make measurable, effective, and lasting improvements.
While the current Strategic Plan is familiar to many and has helped produce many great results, it has some challenges. Three key observations of note include:
- We had strong support from all district constituent groups including students, teachers, administrators, parents, and business leaders with well over 200-plus constituents participating in the original planning and follow-up review process.
- The plan was clearly task-focused with goals, objectives and strategies aligned to the district departments in a functional manner with the measurement of success based on the progress of the tasks.
- Goals are not memorable, thus limiting the ability for everyone in and out of the organization to truly identify or feel connected with the great work we are doing. The most important aspect of our plan is to include all stakeholders and make them a part of the solution. The best way to do this is to leverage a single memorable goal for us to achieve together.
Dr. Zerbe shared his belief that we can do better and need a different guiding focus. Something simple to remember and simple to understand. Something that is reflected each day, hour, and minute in the work we perform.
OUR NEW GOAL: To ensure an exceptional Methacton School District experience for all.
Dr. Zerbe then shared that in order to accomplish this goal, we need a theory of action that reflects the district's core beliefs and is understood by all its stakeholders. He laid out the use of the 5 tenets (Healthy, Safe, Engaged, Supported, Challenged) of the Whole Child approach that will guide our action towards goal attainment and that the Whole Child framework will set the standard for long-term student success.
He discussed that the plan is to use these 5 tenets to guide our work (objectives and strategies) towards the goal of ensuring an exceptional experience for all. In order to measure our progress towards this goal, Dr. Zerbe recommended that we consider qualitative measures through the use of student, staff, parent, and community surveys; focus groups; and town hall meetings to understand how our constituents feel about the work we do and their experience at Methacton. He further suggested that we need to consider quantitative measures such as academic performance and college success, among others that are commonly used in state and national district ranking reports.
This new vision for the strategic plan will require the administration to organize current plan actions into new structure (where applicable); develop measurement methodologies and target benchmarks; continue educating and communicating with staff and the public on Whole Child tenets; and plan for a full scale constituent input forum in the Fall of 2020.
Methacton Award of Excellence
Six members of the Methacton School District staff were presented Awards of Excellence by School Board President Kim Aubrey-Larcinese, Dr. Zerbe, and Methacton High School Principal, Dr. Jason Sorgini. This month’s honorees are Bob Lenahan, Driver Education Teacher; Cheryl Peiffer, School Nurse; Bill Clark, Technology Education Teacher; Lorraine Deegan, Administrative Assistant; Julie Hunsberger, Instructional Assistant; and Butch Langheim, Head Custodian. All of these outstanding staff members provide support for students, staff, and our community. They are valuable team members and we are pleased to share with everyone how much we appreciate their commitment to the students of the Methacton School District.
ARROWHEAD FORWARD UPDATE
During the January 7, 2020 work session meeting, KCBA Architects of Hatfield Pa., provided the Board with an update on the new Arrowhead school construction project, slated for student occupancy in August 2022. Dr. Zerbe has provided a summary of that presentation. The Board of School Directors approved KCBA to move forward with the second phase (Design Development), which will include more detailed documents and greater public input on the process over the next several months.
METHACTON SCHOOL DISTRICT PERFORMANCE RESULTS
Dr. Mary Katona, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment, and Mrs. Tara Ricci, Supervisor for Professional Learning & Continuous Improvement, provided a presentation on the MSD 2018-2019 performance results during the January 21 meeting. The presentation captured highlights from the spring state testing results within three different measures. The State Assessment Measures demonstrate that performance scores in 10 areas rank within the top 10 in the county; advanced students in all subjects met or exceeded the state average, and students in all grade levels exceeded the state average in all PSSAs and Keystone exams. On-Track Measures show all K-8 schools having met the 2030 goal for attendance; all students exceeded the performance standard in the success indicator of Grade 3 Reading; and all students exceeded the performance standard in the success indicator in Grade 7 Math. Students also demonstrated success across the College & Career Measures, including increases in grades 5, 8, & 11 in the Career Benchmark indicator; the graduation cohort exceeded the 2030 state goal; our high school exceeded the state average in the rigorous courses indicator and post-secondary transition. Additionally, our students consistently exceed state and national averages in SAT and ACT results. For additional information regarding the performance results, please click here.
2020-2021 PRELIMINARY BUDGET
The Board of School Directors approved the 2020-2021 preliminary budget. The administration noted that as a result of the Pennsylvania Act 1 budgetary process whereby School Districts, in the year where a Presidential Primary Election is scheduled, must provide the budgetary report nearly a month in advance. As such, the administration informed the Board that the typical scrutiny of requests commonly conducted by the upper administration was not fully completed by the time that all the information needed to be presented to the Board. While this does not produce any complications or challenges, it does mean that the administration recommended that the Board approve the budget with a preliminary tax increase that includes the ACT 1 Index of 2.6%, along with exceptions for PSERS of 0.047% and Special Education of 1.066%, for a total preliminary increase of 3.713%. The Board and the administration will be working collaboratively over the coming months to ensure that the budget meets the needs of the district and is respective and responsive to the needs of our taxpayers.