Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board
By Katie Crawford
Special education was the first focus topic of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board meeting. Megan McCullough and Gina Ross displayed a range of supplementary aides and services ranging from high-tech to low-tech. Board members were able to handle items ranging from foam fidget toys and thera-putty for distractible students, to weighted gloves used to help one autistic student control flapping impulses while training at the workplace. Ms. McCullough and Ms. Ross also spoke of the common use of standing desks for students who need more mobility during class.
On the high-tech side, the board watched two videos highlighting the use of augmentative and alternative communication devices allowing students with a range of speech issues to facilitate conversation. For students with limited speech and body control, eye gaze technology allows students to select words and form sentences.
Also widely used across the district is the program Learning Ally which allows students who are reading below grade level to more easily access content from assigned text. Another highlighted program widely used at the middle school is Flocabulary which includes educational videos about standard content set to hip-hop music.
The second focus topic was the presentation of the 2017-2018 WSSD school calendar. Ferg Abbott outlined the four objectives used to guide the calendar’s formation: to improve professional development opportunities, to create safer environments at schools used as polling locations during the May election, to reduce the number of student half days at the elementary school level, and to eliminate the transportation conflict caused by the two hour delayed opening on teacher in-service days. The new calendar succeeded in meeting all of these goals.
Unchanged from last year, the first day of school for all students will still be after Labor Day. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be a day off. There will again be a full week of spring break and the last day for students will be after the second full week in June.
New for 2017-2018, teachers will have one of the August in-service days as a full prep day for their own classes. Two hour delays for teacher in-service will become three hour early dismissals. Spring elementary school conferences will be held on two full student days and two days of no school for students, giving elementary school students two additional free days prior to the full week of spring break. There will be a teacher in-service on May 15 for teachers in grades K-8 so as to avoid any safety concerns posed by voting that day.
Silver Guide Augmented
The calendar was approved by a vote of 9 to 0. In addition, within the same vote, the addendum to the Silver Guide Program Planner was approved. The Silver Guide outlines course requirements and opportunities for students at the high school. The board approved changing the required credits needed for graduation in both World Languages and Fine and Applied Arts from four credits to three, which increases elective choice from two to four.
This change is intended to provide more students with the opportunity to participate in a senior exploration during their senior year. According to the guide, “Senior exploration time may be used to enroll in a field career, obtain a part-time job, enroll in a dual enrollment course at an approved college or university, or enroll in an approved online course. It may also be used to work on post-secondary planning, engage in service learning projects, or to explore a personal hobby or interest through a non-accredited program of study.”
In her report to the board, Dr. Palmer noted the ongoing conversation within the WSSD community about concerns over possible real estate tax reform legislation. Representative Leanne Krueger-Braneky, Senator Thomas Killion, and Senator Tom McGarrigle all are willing to come to the district to participate in a town hall style meeting. Dr. Palmer is working with their offices now to coordinate calendars.
At last weekend’s Pennsylvania Track & Field Coaches Association meet, Strath Haven seniors Maddie Forbes, Isabel Cardi, Grace Haase, and sophomores Grace Forbes and Olivia Malley comprised the relay teams that took second place in both the distance medley and the 4 x 800. The SHHS girls’ team finished tenth in the state.
Junior Dayo Abeeb placed second overall in the state in the boys’ triple jump, with the Strath Haven boys tying for 27th statewide.
High school wrestlers Devon Moore, 12th grade, and Lee Holbert, 11th grade, will be competing at the PIAA Southeast regional tournament this coming weekend.