School Board Notes
Meetings in Review
School Safety Grant
Dr. Angstadt, Director of Pupil Services, delivered a presentation to the Board on the District’s plan to use $221,370 in school safety grants awarded by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s School Safety and Security Committee in February. Methacton plans to use $176,370 of the award to expand the R.E.A.C.H (Raising Expectations and Children’s Hopes) program -- a school-based intensive mental health program. The remaining $45,000 in funding will be used for “Stop the Bleed Kits” and various trainings for staff.
Three local legislators applauded the Board and Methacton administration for recognizing the importance of providing mental health services to students and families.
Representative Joe Webster, who represents District 150, told the Board that it is no easy task to be awarded these school safety grants. “I want to acknowledge your program directors and grant writers because these programs don’t succeed in Harrisburg unless they’re well defended,” he said. “The programs you have are meaningful. When we reach children early, every one of us knows, it makes a world of difference.”
Dr. Zerbe read statements on behalf of State Senator Katie Muth and Rep. Matt Bradford, who were unable to attend the meeting due to scheduling conflicts.
Sen. Muth, who represents the 44th District, said in part:
“Our children deserve to learn in an environment where they can thrive, and this requires a safe space for them to engage with trained individuals who can offer practical solutions to how to handle life’s stressors. More than ever before, our students are going to need mental health supports in place when they return to school next year. I am grateful that Methacton will be in a position to provide this support to its students.”
Rep. Bradford, who represents District 70, said in part:
“It is heartening to see this focus on mental health services, which may be needed now more than ever with increasing feelings of loneliness and depression due to social distancing and anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. I congratulate Methacton on this important grant award and I am very much looking forward to hearing about the positive impact of the REACH program.”
2020 Best Communities for Music Education
2020-2021 Proposed Final Budget and Transportation Merger at Arcola/Skyview
The administration presented a Proposed Final Budget for the 2020-2021 school year that includes a tax increase of 2.63% or .8 mill increase from the current real estate tax levy. The administration has proposed several matters that will have an impact on the final budget including the staff reductions associated with the Arcola program change proposal that is slated for consideration by the Board on June 16, and the merging of the transportation schedule and bell schedule for Arcola and Skyview. The budget can be reduced by $232K with acceptance of the Arcola program change and another $370K with the merging of bus and bell schedules on the Arcola/Skyview campus. Given the School Board’s approval at the May 26 Board meeting on the amendment to the First Student contract, the budget will have a realization of an additional $424k in state subsidy that, combined with the Arcola Program change and Arcola/Skyview transportation merger, will realize a tax increase closer to 1.2% compared to the current 2.63% proposed.
The Final Budget is slated for Board vote on June 23 with the presentation of the Arcola/Skyview transportation and bell merger slated for the same evening. In order to gain greater understanding of the transportation merger, please see the preliminary presentation provided at the voting meeting on May 26. Additional details are being developed to best ensure a safe and practical operation. There is a high likelihood that the transportation merger will impact the start and end times for students. See presentation for draft schedule.
Mike Kelly, Architect with KCBA of Hatfield, Pa., presented to the Board the current planning status for a new Arrowhead Elementary School. The presentation included a review of the site planning including phases and safety measures while new construction occurs on the same site as the existing building. A review of the storm water matters and the development over time of the reductions and additions to the original concept were outlined. The primary purpose of the meeting was to share with the Board the results of the third-party cost estimate, which is currently estimated at $34,838,362. The Board and the administration will be working with KCBA to find means to reduce costs and provide construction and material alternates that can help drive the overall costs lower on bid day. The next steps of the planning process is to gain approval from the Board on the design development phase and get permission to proceed with construction documents. As required by state law, an Act 34 hearing will be scheduled for September 8th.
Arcola Program Change
Dr. Mangano and Dr. Zerbe presented recommendations for the change of program at Arcola Intermediate School last month and provided an update based on feedback from the Education Committee of the Board at the May meeting. The fundamental focus of the program change would incorporate an additional period of English Language Arts (ELA) into the 8th grade daily schedule in order to increase student mastery of skills necessary to be more successful in high school, college and beyond. With a focus on foundational skills, writing, reading, speaking and listening, all 8th grade students will then have 45 minute periods of Math, Science, Social Studies, and 90 minutes of ELA along with courses in Music, Art, Tech Ed, physical education, World Language and Health/Wellness/PE. This action item is schedule to come before the Board for consideration at the working session of the Board scheduled for June 16, 2020.
Award of Excellence
Methacton’s Award of Excellence honorees for March 2020 represent Woodland Elementary. They are Dawn Hess, Learning Support Teacher; Andrea Hahn, General Music Teacher; Darlene Balaguer-Piernock, Third Grade Teacher; Paula Bauer, Instructional Assistant; Christina Haas, Instructional Assistant, and Robin Faulkner, Secretary to the Principal.
Methacton’s Award of Excellence honorees for April 2020 represent Eagleville Elementary. They are Michele Vitelli, Secretary to the Principal; Leslie Vernacchio, Aramark Head of Eagleville Kitchen; Gail Brown, 2nd Grade Teacher; Bill Moser, Physical Education Teacher; Kristin Evans, Playground Aide; and, Deborah Wittenberg, Third Grade Teacher.
Methacton’s Award of Excellence honorees for May 2020 represent Farina, Aramark, First Student, and Facilities. They are Sheila Davis, Accounts Payable Specialist; Chris Kleinguenther, Coordinator of Technology; Patricia Newell, Food Services Administrative Clerk; Stacey Sholly, First Student Dispatcher; Ruth Walker, Head Custodian at Woodland; and Gary Horn, Grounds/Utility Foreman.
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.
The Board of School Directors recognized 12 retirees who have given a combined 237 years of service to the students, staff and community of the Methacton School District. It is with tremendous gratitude that we give thanks to these important contributors to the Pride of Methacton: Nancy Alongi, Donna Johnson, Mark Fretz, Sara Kehs, Anita Liptak, Ronald Lutz, Josie Matty, John Midgley, Judi Schmitz, Linda Smith, Karen Whiston, and Kathy Wahl. We wish everyone the very best as they embark on new chapters of their lives.
Ceremonial Signing of the First Diplomas
In addition to presenting "M" awards to student board representatives Claire Tse and Caleb Nice, the Board also signed the students' diplomas. As part of the ceremonial signing of the first diplomas, Dr. Zerbe and School Board President Kim Aubrey-Larcinese signed Claire and Caleb’s diplomas, along with that of Ms. Aubrey-Larcinese’s son, John Larcinese, and Dr. Zerbe's daughter, Sydney Zerbe. Graduation is scheduled for Thursday, June 11, 2020, beginning at 4PM at the Arcola/Skyview campus.
Junior Board Representatives
Methacton Education Foundation
Mrs. Nikki Krelovich, Methacton Education Foundation Executive Director, presented a check to Methacton School District in the amount of $5,000 to benefit the Methacton Backpack Program. The Backpack Program provides food assistance to families in our community. The $5,000 donation was made possible thanks to generous donations to the Foundation’s Methacton COVID-19 Relief Fund. The Education Foundation has also committed to raising an additional $45,000 toward funding the Backpack Program through the summer months.