Report cards, contracts and farewells at U-CF

It was a mixed bag at the November meeting of the Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board. Administrators gave a brief report card on district performance while outsourcing contracts were approved and members bid farewell to others leaving the board.

The outsourcing contracts — to CCRES and CCS Technical Services — are for potential support staff vacancies, not for teaching positions, and are a pilot study through June. The number of personnel contracted through the staffing agencies would be limited to 10 percent by category. The vote was 6-2 with Kathy Do and Leticia Flores DeWilde voting against.

Do said she was concerned that workers from a staffing agency might not have full benefits, such as healthcare, and that might cause a problem within a school environment where they work side by side with district employees doing the same job, but with benefits. She said the contracted employees might not feel a part of the district.

Although Flores DeWilde said the contract is now better than what was originally under consideration, she still isn’t certain that this is the best approach to staffing.

“Providing an education is unlike any other business. Our public differentiates between office support provided to other businesses and educational services and positions that require people to interact with our children. This is particularly true at the elementary schools where people work with our youngest students,” Flores DeWilde said. “Despite the possible short term financial benefits, I have concerns about the long term effects, including the level of service and quality being provided to our schools and I know that our current contracted services sometimes leave our schools understaffed.”

The third Region C representative, Gregg Lindner, said he’s dealt with contract services in his business life and that he supports the current concept because of the discussions and changes made to the contract during the last month.

Vic Dupuis addressed one of Do’s concerns saying there already are contracted employees working side by side with standard district employees and there is no problem.

He agreed that, as a pilot program, the board and administration would have to look at the level of productivity and the impact on employee relations and on the students.

Keith Knauss said concerns about regular and contract employees working side by side are “over blown.” He cited the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District as a case in point where there is that side by side relationship and there is no trouble.

“But this is a pilot [program], so let’s evaluate it and find out,” he said.

Other business

• Ken Batchelor, assistant to the superintendent, and John Nolan, the director of curriculum and instruction, gave an overview of an as yet unfinished annual District Achievement Report.

According to Batchelor, 95 percent of the district’s 2013 graduates are attending college and two students were named to the National Honor Society. In addition, nine of the fall sports teams made state playoffs and the girls Cross Country team is rated number one in the state.

He said there are a new accountability system and a school performance profile that includes a new teacher performance profile.

The accountability system focuses on four objectives: test participation rate, graduation rate, attendance rate and closing the achievement gap for all students, he said.

Batchelor said 15 percent of teachers’ evaluations would be determined by their in-school performance profile

Nolan said the overall PSSA scores for third, fourth and fifth grade students are generally up, with third-graders showing the most growth. All of the scores were better than the state average, he said.

While there were some areas where students didn’t achieve as much as Nolan would have liked, “Overall, we’re very pleased,” he said.

Batchelor added, “Our students are achieving in so many ways.”

• Monday’s meeting was the last one for Flores DeWilde and for Jeff Leiser. The two are coming off the board as of December. Lesier served a four-year term and decided not to seek re-election.  Flores DeWilde was a replacement for Frank Murphy who resigned in June. She was appointed during the summer, and then ran in November, but was defeated by Carolyn Daniels in the general election.

Superintendent John Sanville thanked both for their service to the board. He cited Flores DeWilde’s integrity and commitment during her short stay.

He referred to Leiser as being “masterful” in handling the position because he made it look easy.

“Jeff was the kind of board member who used reason the same way squirrels gather nuts early and often. He’s been level headed and earned the respect of his fellow board members, residents in the region and the entire Unionville-Chadds Ford community,” Sanville said.

There was also a farewell of sorts to Eileen Bushelow as board president. She’ll be staying on the board, but her two-year term as board president has expired.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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