Methacton Mobile News

Learn, Lead, Succeed - Together...............December 2015

Dear Methacton Community,

As I outlined back in October, I plan to continue updating the community each month regarding important matters impacting our students, our district, and our community. This December 2015 installment of my Community Conversations shall provide you with a summary of the Methacton School District’s strategic planning process to date.

The formulation of a strategic plan is a process designed to set priorities, focus our energy and resources, strengthen operations, and to ensure that all stakeholders within Methacton School District are working toward common goals aligned around intended results. This effort will outline fundamental decisions and actions that will shape and guide how Methacton School District can move in a direction commensurate with the community’s needs and desires.

In summary, we formed a Strategic Planning Steering Committee in September (info found here); we engaged a consultant by the name of JoAnn Perotti from the Bucks County Intermediate Unit to lead our planning process; established focus areas and sub-committees (info found here); and recruited over 80 participants to serve on the planning committees (list found here). These volunteers represent a wide variety of industries including education and higher-education, healthcare, law, business, information technology, research, finance, human resources, marketing, and real estate; and include students, parents, and alumni of our schools. The committees participated in an initial planning meeting on December 9, 2015. That first meeting concluded with introduction of committee members; the outline of the planning process; and committee work on the mission, vision, and shared values of the district.

There is much work ahead of us. The committees are scheduled to meet again on January 9, 2016 for a half-day session to determine strengths, challenges, opportunities and threats to each of the defined focus areas (see focus areas listed below).

I am pleased with the response from the community. This outstanding group of volunteers may need to hold additional meetings and or seek additional input via surveys or focus groups to drive out the high level goals. Once the goals are firm, the district administration, likely in March 2016, will address each of the goals with actions, responsibilities, resources, and timelines. The Strategic Planning Committee will then review and make comments, changes, or further recommendations to ensure that we can produce a document that inspires support from within our greater community toward accomplishing our goals.

The final plan is to be presented to the Board of School Directors by April 30, 2016.

From my perspective, this process is critical to all that we do. It shall serve as a guide that determines where we focus our staff and our resources. It shall establish a fundamental focus for the following areas:

  • Student Growth and Achievement/Staff Professional Development and Growth/Pupil Services/Educational Technology
  • Safety/Operational Technology/Facilities/Infrastructure
  • Co-curricular, Extra Curricular Activities, and Athletics
  • District Operations/Financial Management/Human Resources
  • Communications and Community Relations

I sincerely appreciate the continued support of our community, and I look forward to additional opportunities for our wider community to participate in this important process.

Thank you for your continued support of our schools. Our best for a warm holiday and a joyous New Year.

Dr. David Zerbe
Superintendent of Schools

Congratulations to Emily Cheng and Gerald Liu for Placing Second in the 2015 Siemens Research Competition

MHS students Emily Cheng and Gerald Liu, working with Kelly Jiang, a student at Connestoga High School; were awarded second place in the team category of the prestigious Siemens Research Competition.

The students were awarded the honor for their research centered around early detection of colon-rectal cancer. All three students worked at the Pennsylvania Biotechnonogy Center located in Doylestown. (The students are pictured at right (L-R: Jiang, Liu, Cheng) with the $50,000 scholarship to be divided among them.

Their project is entitled, "Simultaneous Detection of Genetic and Epigenetic DNA Modifications by Targeted Next Generation Sequencing for Cancer Screening – Assay and Data Analysis Software Development for the Detection of Hepatocellular Carcinoma."

The team developed a panel of genetic and epigenetic DNA markers for the early detection of liver cancer, creating software to analyze the data to create accurate and specific diagnoses that bypasses the pre-existing data analysis bottleneck in next generation sequencing. With their project, Emily, Kelly and Gerald look to one day develop a panel to effectively screen for cancer in the early stages and prevent it from becoming life threatening for the many people it affects around the world.

Methacton is Proud of Our National Merit Scholarship Finalists!

Congratulations to the 9 Methacton High School (MHS) seniors recognized as finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Competition. These students were selected in part as a result of their performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). These MHS students will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis.

The following MHS seniors have been identified as National Merit Scholarship finalists: Emily Chung, Sidarth Giddu, Elisabeth Juechser, Jeffrey Li, Kevin Ouyang, Debanik Purkayastha, Manan Rohilla, Ramya Saravanan, and Kelly Zhang.

Of the more than one million National Merit Scholarship Program entrants, some 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index scores (critical reading + mathematics + writing skills scores) qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Twenty Methacton students qualified as Commended students. Although they will not continue in the 2016 competition for National Merit Scholarship awards, Commended students placed among the top five percent of more than 1.5 million students who entered the competition. They are: Anna Billiard, Jia Lin Cai, Kendra Fang, Vikrant Gokhale, Olivia Gomez, Jessica Guo, Simone Henderson, John Hilles, Shanon Hossain, Abby Konkoly, Sarah Lebold, Jerrica Li, Elaine Ma, Matthew O'Connell, Benjamin Parambath, Gayatri Pillai, Lasya Rangavajjula, Danyall Saeed, Har Santhanam, and Amanda Tatem.

Methacton School Board Holds Annual Reorganization

The Methacton School District's Board of School Directors held their annual reorganization meeting on Monday, December 7. Recently elected members Kim Aubrey-Larcinese, Chris R. Boardman, Andrea Rees, Michael K. Ryan, and Paul Winters were sworn in and took their seats on the Board for terms expiring in 2019. The Board members then voted to elect Chris R. Boardman as president and Michael K. Ryan as vice-president, for a term of one year respectively.

The Board was also joined by School Board Director Scott Dorn, appointed on December 1. Dorn will complete the remainder of S. Christian Nasimento's term, set to expire in 2017. Mr. Nascimento resigned from his position in November. Mr. Boardman noted that the Board will hold its next meeting as scheduled on January 26, 2016; with committee assignments and meeting schedule to be determined.

Budget Preparations Underway for 2016-2017

During the Board's regular December 2015 meeting, the Board voted to authorize the administration to seek any available exceptions to the Act 1 index limit, providing the Board and the administration with the flexibility to go above the state issued 2.4% tax increase limit to close the budget gap, estimated to exceed $3 million based on very early figures. Methacton's Chief Financial Officer, Stuart Whiteleather, provided the Board with this early estimate of the budget based upon historical trends and other factors during his presentation. He explained that Methacton qualifies for a 1.04% PSERS exception due to the fact that the district's mandated contributions to the Pennsylvania Public School Employees Retirement System will exceed the index.

The Board's decision triggers the requirement to approve a preliminary budget, scheduled for the Board's regular January 26, 2016 meeting. The public advertisement of the proposed preliminary budget represents the first formal step in preparing a Pennsylvania public school budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Much work has gone into preparing this budget document. It is anticipated that there will be changes to the budget on both expenditures and revenues as the administration and school board work together towards a final budget passage in June 2016.

One of the notable potential challenges or unknowns is the pending passage of the 2016-17 state budget. As of this writing, the legislature and governor are working on a framework for the 2015-16 budget, which when passed, is likely to have a significant impact on the 2016-17 budget. There are just too many unknown factors being considered at the state level at this point to accurately report.

The PDE 2028 – 2016-17 Proposed Preliminary Budget can be downloaded from the district's website here.

Methacton Senior Citizens' Dinner Theater is Back!

Thursday, Feb. 25th 2016 at 4pm

1005 Kriebel Mill Road

Collegeville, PA

One of Sondheim s most popular works, Into The Woods is a musically sophisticated show with the opportunity to feature actors adept at dark comedy. A red cape, a strand of golden hair, a golden shoe, and a white cow - it s these four items that send a baker and his barren wife through the woods on a magical journey to reverse an evil spell. They wish for a child and are sent by an evil witch on the scavenger hunt. Little red riding hood, Jack and the bean stalk, Rapunzel, and Cinderella soon join the mix on this magical tale of love and adventure.

After the show, join us for a dinner served by some of the student actors from the night s show! Enjoy a menu of chicken Francaise, roasted red potatoes, green beans, and dessert - all included in your ticket price!

LOCATION: Methacton High School Auditorium. A Gold Card Number is required for registration in order to verify age/residency. If you do not have a Gold Card, please contact the Community Education office to be issued one. (Gold Cards are issued to Methacton School District residents age 60+ upon request.) Please note: guests that are not Gold Card holders are welcome to attend the show at the regular price of $18.00/adult or $15.00/student. Dinner is for Gold Card holders only. This program is not eligible for discount pricing. Register online today, space is limited! Quick Links

Winter-Spring Community Ed. Program - Register Online!

Sports, enrichment, arts and crafts, kids after school programming, aquatics, planetarium programs, bus trips, college preparation, and more!