MCASB: Scores are a collective problem
MOUNT CARMEL - Mount Carmel Area School Board President Donna James said Thursday night that poor scores by the district's elementary school under the state's new grading system are a "collective problem," but stressed that administrators and teachers are continuing to work hard to improve student achievement.
James did not blame the district's teachers for the poor scores that were recently released through the Pennsylvania Department of Education School Performance Profile (SPP). Mount Carmel Area Elementary School scored 64.8 and was among four schools in the eight school districts in Northumberland County to score below 70 out of a possible grade of 100. Scores for the district's middle/high school were not available.
"We have been very aggressive during the past year in addressing the problem," James said. ""We expect to increase student achievement through several initiatives."
James urged parents and the overall community to assist students, teachers and administrators in improving scholastic scores.
One of the initiatives recently implemented is a performance tracker that inputs data from Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests, Keystone exams and localized standardized assessments of students. The tracker pinpoints areas where students experience problems so they can improve their scores. In addition to identifying students' scores, the tracker lists school and class assessments.
The performance tracker, which cost $5,100, covers the middle/high school and elementary school.
Last month, the district approved the purchase of electronic software services to evaluate teachers. The state has mandated school districts to obtain the services. The district will purchase a system known as PA-ETEP from Edulink Systems for $3,225 per year.
The teachers are working under an expired contract and continue to seek concessions from the board that include higher salaries. School board members previously said the district is not as financially well off as the union claims and faces serious concerns involving escalating retirement and health care costs.
Negotiations between the two entities hit a stalemate in May when the school board accepted the report of a Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board fact finder, but the union rejected it.
A large contingent of teachers were in attendance Thursday night, but did not offer any comment about the poor scores. The next contract negotiation meeting is scheduled for Nov. 20.
Teacher Amy Watkins, of Mount Carmel, inquired about the status of an elementary school nurse.
Watkins, who has a diabetic son, said she is concerned that no nurse was available at the school Thursday.
Superintendent Bernie Stellar said the elementary school nurse is on maternity leave. He said high school nurse Ruth Gregory, who plans to retire in January, and substitute nurses have been covering the elementary school nursing needs. Stellar said he believes a nurse will be available at the elementary school today.
James, who is a registered nurse, said she has offered her services free of charge to help the district fill any nursing needs.
In a related matter, the board hired Leanne Ryan as a high school nurse at a salary of $41,156 without benefits.
The board agreed to pay tournament registration fees not to exceed $500 in any one season for individual sports teams for the 2013-2014 school year. The tournaments must be approved by the athletic department and must be part of the team's regular schedule.
Steven Sinkovich was hired as an assistant varsity wrestling coach at a salary of $1,900 with four years experience.
Directors granted permission to the Tri-County Football League to use the Silver Bowl for its championship games early next month. The Mount Carmel Jets, who play in the league, will host the games and must reimburse district personnel for cleaning the stadium after the games.
A committee consisting of James and directors Thomas Ditchey and Michael Brinkash was established to restructure the maintenance department.
The board approved a graduation scholarship in memory of Ryan Messmore.
Christine DeLong was hired as a life skills teacher at the high school at a salary of $30,215 with benefits. She will replace Jena Oley, who recently resigned.
Watkins, Lisa Toms, Mike Paulson and Ashley Kilmer were approved as homebound instructors.
Michelle Forti and Caprice Parisi were hired as personal care aides for six hours per day at $7.25 per hour without benefits.
Megan Bush was hired as an aide/substitute aide for two hours per day at $7.25 per hour without benefits.
Diana Lentini was hired as an aide for four hours per day at $7.25 per hour without benefits.
Board members in attendance were James, Brinkash, Ditchey, Dr. Ray Kraynak, Charles Mannello, Robert Muldowney, Joseph D'Andrea and Michael Rovito. Raymond Kraynak was absent.