Message from the Superintendent
It is my pleasure to present the November edition of the Lower Moreland Township School District Superintendent’s Newsletter. I hope this letter finds you and your family healthy and well.
Schools across our nation continue to work through the challenges of educating children during a world-wide pandemic. You have likely seen numerous reports - both locally and nationally - regarding the challenges that come with isolations, quarantines and positive COVID-19 cases. Unfortunately, we are not immune to this new reality. LMTSD remains focused on the health and safety of our students and staff members who continue to be at the forefront of all decision making related to in-person learning. Decisions related to maintaining in-person learning are done in consultation with the Montgomery County Office of Public Health. In addition to Montgomery County health metrics, the district monitors cases in Lower Moreland Township. Additionally, the district reviews cases in all three of our schools, and absences among students and staff.
In addition, more recently, we have received numerous communications from families whose children are currently isolating and awaiting COVID-19 test results due to household or community contact of a confirmed positive COVID-19 case. Unfortunately, this pattern of incidence and positivity rate is on a steep rise in the County and now locally. It was with this in mind and out of an abundance of caution that the district announced a shift to fully virtual learning beginning this Wednesday, November 4 in order to avoid any possibility of transmission of COVID-19 in our buildings at a time when community spread is elevated.
Lower Moreland Township School District considers the health and well-being of our students, staff and community to be of the utmost importance. Therefore, we hope that this shift over the next two weeks will allow for the safest learning environment for everyone and reduce our recent pattern of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases that have been reported to us and at the same time, avoid any possibility of virus spread among students and/or staff. Our goal is to return to in-person learning on Monday, Nov. 16 if conditions permit.
While the district’s goal is to offer as much in-person instruction as possible, it is also the district’s responsibility to mitigate risk when necessary and act in ways to limit virus spread before it ever occurs in our buildings while maintaining the health and safety of students and staff.
Scott Davidheiser, Ed.D.
Business Office (Mark McGuinn, Business Manager)
The Lower Moreland Township School District has embarked on a plan to build a new high
school on the grounds of the existing high school. This was done after an extensive feasibility report, review of data, and finally a review of six different options. All of this information can be found under the Superintendent’s webpage.
In conjunction with the planned new project, the District will commence with a series of bond
issues to fund the new high school. It is important and relevant to know that the building of the new school will not necessitate a tax increase for the school itself. The District will wrap the new debt service payments in when existing debt service payments expire. In order to issue general obligation bonds, all school districts must receive a credit rating which is a measure a district’s financial status. There are two main companies that issue credit ratings, Moody’s, and Standard and Poor’s. Lower Moreland Township School District works with Standard and Poor’s and they have reviewed the District’s financial status and issued a credit rating of AA+ Stable rating which is the 2nd highest rate to achieve. A copy of the report can be found here.
The favorable credit rating means that the District will pay less in debt service payments than a less favorable rate. The rating companies review district operations, enrollment, the need for the project, and the audited financial statements in conjunction with District Administration. The District and the School Board are proud of the strong credit rating for the Lower Moreland Township School District.
Curriculum and Instruction (Julien Drennan, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Prof. Dev.)
In acknowledgment of the challenges that 2020 has brought, Pennsylvania's Department of Education has worked to create resources for families to use to extend learning into the home. One such resource has been created through a partnership between PBS and PDE. PBS has provided programming and accompanying challenges/projects for students in grades K-12 under the title, Learning at Home PA. You can explore the television listings and get related learning tasks here.
The District is utilizing the Google platform for the organization of instructional materials and streaming of instruction. If you would like to review access information for Google Meet or Google Classroom, please click here. If you are interested to receive Google Classroom summaries, you can find information at this link or can view this video.
Thank you for your continued support of your student in this unique learning environment.
Human Resources/Public Relations (Cheryl Galdo, Esq., Dir. of HR/PR)
Human ResourcesIn August 2020, PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro sent a letter to all districts reminding them of the importance of maintaining background clearances. The letter was sent after an investigation revealed some districts were failing to do so.
Lower Moreland takes the safety of our students and staff as the utmost importance and has a system in place to monitor compliance of employees, contractors, and volunteers with the required background checks. Employees, contractors, and volunteers are required to renew their clearances every five years in accordance with Pennsylvania laws. Lower Moreland is more stringent than the law requires when it comes to new hires, who must provide clearances dated within a year of the hire date.
Information on how to obtain clearances in order to volunteer may be obtained here.
LMHS Health and Physical Education teacher Mrs. Colleen Quinn-Maxwell organized another fundraising campaign among faculty and staff during October dress-down days to raise awareness and support for Nicole's Place of the Laurel House and Domestic Violence Awareness. Staff and students wore purple on October 22nd to show their support for the national day of domestic violence awareness known as "Purple Thursday" for the 5th year in a row. $720 will be donated to support the victims and survivors of Nicole's Place on behalf of Lower Moreland High 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 have been engaged in 21st Century learning activities focused on the 4Cs: Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication with support from instructional coaches Karleigh Sugden and Dana Rapoport.
Critical Thinking: Accounting students at the high school utilize Jamboard to practice working in T-Accounts to build the foundation of Double Entry Accounting. Using a template created by their teacher, Mrs. Cathy Siciliano, students work through analyzing business transactions and complete posting business transactions by recording their answers using Google Jamboard.
Creativity: Using Google Meet’s breakout room feature, Erin Stroup provided opportunities for musicians to play and record together. Band students selected a 20-30 measure section of a piece, recorded their individual parts, and then worked in breakout rooms to collaborate on putting the pieces together using music software. The assignment was designed for students to experience the challenge of putting a group recording together with opportunities to creatively problem solve and reflect. Through the use of breakout rooms, students collaborated and communicated across different cohorts and it allowed them to get back to doing what they love: creating beautiful music. Enjoy the result of a completed project here!
Collaboration: Students in Ms. Bixler’s 5th grade science classes got a chance to observe the life cycle of red worms both in person and virtually and then worked in Google Meet breakout rooms to discuss their observations. They completed a Google slide collaboratively using the ICERS protocol to answer their focus question: What happens when compost worms interact with organic litter?
Communication: Ms. Guiliana’s 3rd grade students started to explore and collaborate in Jamboard. They shared family traditions on a Jam and also used it for group work to share their thoughts and ideas about various topics they are learning about in class.
Information Systems: A new email threat is making its way to an inbox near you. This threat is centered around spoofing the Small Business Administration (SBA) COVID-19 relief web page. An example of the malicious site appears in the image. The goal of this site is to steal credentials as well as other personal information. Please continue to exercise caution when opening email attachments, even if the attachment is expected and the sender appears to be known.
Student Services (Frank Giordano, Director of Special Education and Student Services)
As the calendar turns to November and we enter into the third month of school it would be stating the obvious to say that this is the strangest, and probably the most difficult school year, ever (with the exception maybe of last school year). November is also a time for thanks and, with that being said, the Office of Student Services would like to thank all of our parents of students with special needs for their energy, persistence, assistance, understanding, and, most of all patience, during this time. While instruction certainly has changed for the immediate future, none of what is being done in our special education programs would be possible if not for the support of our parents. We understand the sacrifice you need to make on a daily basis to support the learning of your children and we thank you for hanging in there with us and supporting the work of our special education teachers.
Our students with special needs deserve an equally huge thank you as well since they are the ones who have had to adapt and adjust and to a new way of life at school or at home and they have done so beautifully. The positive attitude, willingness and flexibility of our students with special needs has made everything that has been planned up to this point possible. Our teachers have put a tremendous amount of effort into making the learning experience this school year as positive and meaningful as can be and it is impressive how our students who are most at risk have responded. It is important to find bright spots in uncertain times and the motivation and attitude of our special education students and families certainly has been one.