Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board
By Katie Crawford
On Monday, August 22, in anticipation of the rapidly approaching first day of school, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board approved a range of items mostly relating to personnel.
The evening also marked the first board meeting for the district’s new business manager, Martha Kew.
The district will welcome four new special education teachers, two each at the middle school and the high school. In addition, Swarthmore-Rutledge School, Wallingford Elementary School, and Strath Haven High School will all welcome new speech and language teachers.
For four WSSD teachers, tenure will officially begin on the first day of school: Robin Smith, the guidance counselor at SHHS; Colae Calkin-Jukkala, currently a teacher at Nether Providence Elementary School; Donna Clarke, also an NPE teacher; and Katelyn Graham, a language arts teacher at SHHS.
Teacher tenure is achieved in the state of Pennsylvania by completing three years in the same school district satisfactorily.
As part of the district’s ongoing effort to support new teachers, or teachers new to their positions, veteran teachers are regularly assigned as mentors to help plan and implement curriculum, as well as to provide a sounding board throughout the school year. Mentors are paid for this work. Ten experienced district teachers have been paired with 12 new teachers.
Research Projects to Use Student Data
Two dissertation proposals were approved by the board last night which will allow for two research projects to be conducted using student data.
Middle school principal Chris Matsanka will be working to “…determine if a correlation exists between Classroom Diagnostic Testing (CDT) and Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSAs) in language arts and mathematics, as well as to determine whether interim CDT scores can be used to predict student performance on the PSSAs.” Depending on the results of this study, information from the Classroom Diagnostic Testing (which is gathered earlier in the school year) could be used for targeted interventions in order to ultimately improve PSSA scores.
The second study is going to be conducted by Dina Dormer. Ms. Dormer is going to examine “…the impact of participation in interscholastic athletics on the achievement of students identified as members of underrepresented minority groups in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses at the high school level.
The study may also examine teachers’ perceptions of students from underrepresented minority groups in STEM and student-athletes, and how those perceptions impact student achievement.” One goal of this particular study is to “…provide strategies for reducing the achievement gap in STEM courses.” This study will rely solely on previously recorded data — there will be no access to current students.
Superintendent Dr. Lisa Palmer noted the busy athletics fields marking the beginning of school sports, with the first home football game slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Strath Haven’s George L. King Field. Dr. Palmer also happily happened upon the drum line veterans instructing new members, and is eagerly anticipating their on-field performances as well.
The meeting closed with board member Dr. Robert Reiger citing a recent Town Talk article that looked at tax increases in area districts. Reiger reiterated his concern that in our district, “Taxes are rising faster than other districts,” with no proposed solution to date.