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New grading standards being reviewed in WCSD

During Whitehall-Coplay School District’s committee meetings April 11, representatives from the grading and assessment subcommittee presented an update on the progress of the grading and assessment work in the 2022-23 school year.

The committee has representatives from grades K-12. They are trying to assess current practices and incorporate the mindset shift to developing common assessments and report card revisions. This is a long process that is 100% intentional but will take time, according to the committee.

Curriculum mapping and common assessments will help teachers report the success of a child’s ability to learn and retain the information without giving them a number to identify their success.

The education/student activities committee discussed the Valley Youth House agreement request for approval. This is a two-year agreement for services with Valley Youth House.

Valley Youth House empowers and strengthens the lives of children, youth and families through inclusive programming that builds resilience and fosters growth and independence.

Another topic of discussion was a request for approval of the memorandum of understanding between Whitehall Township Police Department and WCSD, effective July 1-June 30, 2025. The memorandum of understanding covers gang activity, guns, weapons, threats and other crossover incidents where both the school district and township police could both be involved.

Field trip requests for approval were reviewed and discussed. Field trip requests may be permitted when they abide by travel restrictions, state guidelines and district and administration’s discretion at the time of trip.

Upcoming field trips included a musical group traveling to Broadway in New York City April 4.

TRU Group will travel to Harrisburg May 26. There is no cost to the students. Valley Youth House will be providing the bus transportation.

The Governor’s STEM Team was to have traveled to Harrisburg April 19. There is no cost to the students. A district van was needed.

The German Club traveled to Washington, D.C., April 15. The cost was $30 per student. A charter bus provided transportation.

The STEM Design Challenge regional winners who advanced to the state competition will travel to Harrisburg May 12.

The Whitehall-Coplay Middle School Science Olympiad team will travel to Altoona April 21. This is an overnight trip. The cost is $150 per student. The group could also hold a fundraiser to cover some of the fees. They will need district transportation.

The Whitehall High School Science National Honor Society traveled to Washington, D.C., April 15. The cost was $35 per person, and they subsidized a portion of club funds. Transportation was provided by J&J Transportation.

Other information provided by the education committee included the Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit 21 Intergovernmental Agreement for Special Education Services.

Environmental educator Laura Hopek and WHS environmental science teacher Brittany Cinicola presented information regarding an outdoor education project for high school students. Students are creating steppingstones and installing bird feeders and planting flowers and plants in a designated garden.

The finance committee presented three financial impact issues for discussion. The items include the appointment of Whitehall Township Public Library trustee Dhara Dekhtawala to the library board of trustees, the Fox Rothschild Contract Extension and the 2023-24 proposed final budget presentation.

The operations/transportation committees focused on personnel and staffing issues. Director of Personnel Angela Friebolin shared the new K-12 gifted support teacher job description and the revised special education paraeducator job description.

Other operations/transportation topics included a proposal to name the weight room after a former WHS football coach and establish a corresponding scholarship. Plans for a weight room dedication are in the works.

An overview was provided of the CLIU 21 facilities plan committee report school board resolution plan.

Mike Sander, from D’Huy Engineering, provided an update on the bids for the WHS stage refurbishing project, the baseball and softball dugout projects and proposals to update the paging systems.

WCSD Superintendent Dr. Robert Steckel shared information regarding the Steckel Elementary School playground progress. There is a COSTARS quote to purchase and install new playground structures at Steckel using capital reserve funds.

They are developing an educational area for outdoor reading and class time as well as more climbing gyms. The old equipment will be removed and fresh mulch added. The goal is to have this completed by the 2023-24 school year.

The next regular school board meeting will be 7 p.m. April 24 in the WHS large group instruction room, 3800 Mechanicsville Road.