2008-10-30 / Local & State

S. Fulton Gets Rave Reviews On PSSA Test Scores

Administration shares program success, goals
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

With Southern Fulton students and staff making tremendous achievement during the 2007-08 PSSA testing process, two representatives of Tuscarora Intermediate Unit #11 appeared before the school board last Tuesday to applaud the group's efforts and provide fine details on their testing trends.

Dr. Tracy Hinish shared that PSSA testing results for Southern Fulton are evidence of the district's achievements. Other than a small slide in the English and math categories by last year's fifth-grade students, the district has established some "pretty perfect trends," she said.

Reading scores for grade five, however, have decreased across the commonwealth, according to Hinish.

Among those tested annually in all school districts are students enrolled in grades three through eight and grade 11. At Southern Fulton, the bar was raised to 56 percent proficient or advanced in math and 63 percent in reading. Other areas graded through PSSA are graduation rates, participation, performance and attendance.

In the high school, Hinish's coworker Bob Shinskie reported, students enrolled in the junior/ senior high school easily hit their target in both math and reading. "You have a great start and trend in reaching a goal of 100 percent proficiency," said Shinskie, who added the district is also making good progress in its IEP subgroup, a tough group in many districts.

"You can be proud of the pace you're setting," stated Shinskie in adding many districts are looking toward Southern Fulton for teaching ideas and suggestions to improve their scores.

As a follow-up to the presenta- tion by the TIU #11 officials, Superintendent Ralph Scott stated the district's achievements did not surface by snapping its fingers and wishing for it. Starting with what he called "ancient history," Scott showed the board a presentation he initially displayed in May of 2003 detailing the school's improvement plan over the next 10 years.

Scott related even though the district hadn't met all of their goals that left the faculty, administration and students something to shoot for. "We want to have the highest test scores by creating a culture of expectations," said Scott.

Scott, along with elementary Principal Kendra Trail, provided the board with a detailed explanation of enhancements in learning undertaken at the elementary and high school levels during the last five years that included guided reading, reading rewards program, Game 24, retentions in kindergarten and first grade, an increase in the number of teachers and aides, Study Island, power writing, increased instructional time and increased emphasis on the arts.

Scott also touched on special education and districtwide initiatives and fiscal management, while Doug Leisher and Mike Shaw spoke on advancements in technology and facilities.

Scott concluded even though No Child Left Behind has posed problems for the district, such as in the area of funding, it has been a benefit through a focused faculty.

Personnel

Pending the completion and submission of paperwork, the following

individuals were approved to serve

as substitute teachers for the current

2008-09 school year: Linda

Banks, Deborah Cooper, Jessica Dovey, Debbie Duran, Brittany Frost and Deborah Remeikas. In addition, Via Shaw was added to the district's substitute custodian list.

Building and grounds

The board approved a set of school emergency plans for both the elementary and high school. Multiple typing corrections were proposed and will be made to the plan, which was provided to the district by emergency management or the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The adult basketball league was granted permission to utilize the elementary gymnasium on October 23 through April 30, 2009, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., as per board policy and schedule coordination by the athletic director.

The board held a discussion pertaining to student crowding at the elementary school and the possible need for the construction of a middle school. The elementary facility is currently comprised of 530 students and 65 staff members, while the junior/ senior high school has 420 students and 60 staff.

The board, along with the superintendent, has been touring school districts in neighboring counties in recent months reviewing their middle and vocational settings. In addition to enjoying the technology projects exhibited by other high school students, the board members noted they also liked the coexistence between middle and high school students at certain facilities by using a different bell schedule.

Superintendent Scott stated the situation could be approached from several ways, but the community relations team along with the school board needs to tour the existing buildings firsthand. If a building is deemed to be out of space, community involvement should be encouraged, Scott said. A feasibility study could be prepared after asking for RFPs or by interviewing several interested companies. Whether the company would be involved in the construction phase would be determined by the board.

Policy

The board authorized an amendment to an intergovernmental governmental agreement that created the Fulton County Parks and Recreation Commission effective April 21, 2005. The amendment will add Licking Creek Township to the list of existing commission members under the same terms and conditions of the other municipalities.

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