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Q & A - Archives 2017-2018

Monday, June 11, 2018

Question: How are Board members getting information about Stony Creek and is there a plan to address the concerns raised about the number of students at Stony Creek?
ANSWER: Information about all district schools is shared regularly with Board members via weekly updates from the Superintendent (or more frequently if the matter is urgent), as well as in Board Committee meetings and regular public meetings of the Board. Yes, there is a plan to address concerns shared about Stony Creek, which includes short term (additional encore staffing, short-term modular unit lease, etc.) and the longer term (conversation about possible re-districting to begin in Fall 2018).

Question Have there been any enrollment studies done, especially given the possibility of new home construction in the district, and does the district have a communication channel with anybody at the Whitpain Township municipal offices to consider things like zoning impact?
ANSWER: Yes, studies have been done (see #3 below) and yes, the district maintains an excellent working relationship with various Whitpain Township municipal officials.

Question: What did prior enrollment studies (conducted during re-districting) conclude about projected enrollment now and how does current actual numbers compare to those projections (and are there plans of engaging another, updated study, considering ongoing developments)?
ANSWER: The Pennsylvania Economy League (PEL) completed an enrollment study dated 12/15/10. There were three scenarios in the study: Preferred, Alternate B and Alternate C. In the Preferred (by PEL) estimate, K-5 enrollment was projected to be 1,722 for 2017-18 (Alternate B projection was 1,758 – Alternate C projection was 1,705). Actual September 29, 2017 enrollment was 2,125, which is a difference of over 400 students K-5 compared to the PEL’s “preferred” scenario. Yes, a contract for an updated study (by a different organization) will be considered in the Fall of 2018.

Question: With the additional students at Stony Creek now, is the building still in compliance with code provisions for things like # of toilets and fire egress?
ANSWER: The district regularly confers with the local Fire Marshall, and the building conducts monthly fire evacuation exercises, and these actions demonstrate that all building occupants can safely egress from the building. The district has not recently investigated current toilet building code compliance (there are no known issues regarding a lack of sufficient available toilets). In conjunction with the upcoming Fall 2018 conversation about possible re-districting (see #1 above), the district will take an updated look at all building capacities, including both educational (e.g., how many classrooms are available) and non-educational areas (e.g., how many people can be in a gym or cafeteria at once).

Question: Does a 1 on 1 (personal) student’s aide count towards the target adult/student ratio on a classroom?
ANSWER: No.

Question: Why did the district eliminate cursive writing from the curriculum?
ANSWER: The WSD English-Language Arts program includes instruction in both manuscript and cursive writing. It was not eliminated from the curriculum.

Question: What tangible and measurable things has the district done since 2/14/18 to increase the safety of students?
ANSWER: Since 2/14/18, the district has commissioned the “Safe Schools Committee” to be the focal point and clearinghouse of all ideas and concerns related to school security, scheduled Fall 2018 security audits by county school security experts in all six district schools, accepted a donation of six “Jacob Kits” and located one kit in each district school (at the ready for a trained school nurse’s use), commissioned a new and more comprehensive approach to “See/Hear Something, Say Something” (tip lines, social media monitoring, etc.) to also include more extensive opportunities to provide information (and to get it funneled to the right place) as well as a new relationship with the Sandy Hook Promise organization to further enhance information gathering capability, developed a plan to improve the building entrances at all four K-5 schools, finalized an agreement with Montgomery County Community College to be the district’s emergency bus drop-off point during an emergency, scheduled regular meetings with older students to get their perspectives on possible security issues/enhancements, and conducted multiple “Run, Hide, Resist” training sessions for faculty (with scheduled sessions for students in early 2018-19 school year).

Question: Why does the WHS Hall of Fame not include many past WHS students who were stand-out athletes while at WHS?
ANSWER: When the WHS Alumni Hall of Fame was reinstated in 2012, the new criteria recognized Wissahickon/Ambler alumni for their post-graduate athletics achievements in addition to post-graduate academic, professional or lifetime achievements and/or community service. In years past, there was an “Athletic Hall of Fame” in existence that recognized achievements while in high school. The district will take a look at how it was organized, why it was discontinued, and whether or not it can/should merge or coexist with the Alumni Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The questions below were submitted to the district in writing on June 7, 2018.

Question: How many professional position applications via all platforms (electronic, job fair, referral, etc.) were received from people who identified themselves as minorities?
ANSWER: In accordance with federal and state labor laws, we do not ask or gather information about minority status in any pre-employment paperwork or conversations.

Question: How many of those minorities were LTS? How many were contracted?
ANSWER: We cannot know the answer to this (see #1 above).

Question: How many minority applicants were extended a job offer?
ANSWER: We cannot know the answer to this (see #1 above).

Question: How many of the applicants were invited to an interview? How many were invited for a demo or other progressive steps in the the hiring process?
ANSWER: We cannot know the answer to this (see #1 above).

Question: How many minorities have gotten tenure within the district and how long did it take for tenure to be granted?
ANSWER: Three full calendar years of service are required to attain tenure in the state. The three years of service must be within the same PA school district. For the 2018/19 school year, Wissahickon had 36 teachers in the tenure process. Of those 36 teachers, 2 identify themselves as “Black”. We do not have ready access to records that track tenured professional staff members by their self-reported race or ethnicity.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Question: Can the district revisit the idea of allowing for digital signatures in the IEP realm in a way that does not depend on the functionality of the current (or any future) Student Information System (SIS)?
ANSWER: The technology department is exploring software solutions which provide this ability independent of any SIS and will bring forward a recommendation.

Question: What is the criteria for selecting alumni for the Alumni Hall of Fame, who does the selecting, and when will the 2018 inductees be announced?
ANSWER: The criteria for the Alumni Hall of Fame is available online under the Community tab>Alumni> Hall of Fame: https://www.wsdweb.org/our-community/alumni/hall-of-fame/nomination-form. While high school achievements are recognized, the WSD Hall of Fame celebrates post-graduate achievements in recognition of how the district’s graduates make an impact in the world after they leave Wissahickon. The district award program is supported by a WEOF grant.

The selection committee includes the WHS Principal, WHS Athletics and Activities Director, District Communications Coordinator, three staff alumni and one alumni from the WEOF board. Each year, different staff alumni will be invited to participate on the committee. The 2018 inductees will be announced this May.

Question: Why are Board of Directors not upholding the responsibilities of office and disciplining Dr. Crisfield for violating policy when he used district resources to offer an opinion on a political (gun control) matter?
ANSWER: Superintendents across the Commonwealth routinely engage in lobbying efforts concerning proposed or possible legislation that affects their school district. In Dr. Crisfield’s opinion, the need for legislation that limits the availability of certain weapons is a key piece of the overall effort to enhance and improve school security efforts. In his tenure here, he has similarly lobbied for legislation to increase public school funding, and against legislation that seeks to increase funding for charter schools. He has lobbied in favor of legislation that reduces the amount of testing required before graduation, and against legislation that seeks to impose restrictions on how reverse tax appeals for corporate properties can be initiated. In short, there are many, many areas of politics and legislation that superintendents are expected to monitor, and if any affect the district in any harmful ways, it is typical and desirable for the district’s superintendent to speak up and attempt to influence the outcome of such efforts to the benefit of the district.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Question: Can the district provide passes to senior citizens to attend fee-based school events such as theater productions and sporting events and use the new natatorium for community swims free of charge?
ANSWER: Yes, the district provides a Gold Card to all residents of the Wissahickon School District who are at least 62 years old or over. Gold card members receive:

  • FREE entrance to ALL home athletic events (Please note that free passes cannot be used for district or state playoff games)
  • FREE entrance to theater & other events that require tickets (these require a phone call in advance to the school office where the event is being held to ensure your seat at the performance)
  • FREE admittance to the community swims in the WHS Natatorium

For more information, please contact Kristen Rawlings at 215-619-8000, ext. 1625 or by email.

Question: Can we provide for electronic signature and transmittal of IEP documents and paperwork?
ANSWER: Our Student Information System software does not have the capability to process electronic signatures. We are not aware of any student information system that has this feature.

Question: What are the fee classifications for outside groups to use the WHS natatorium or other school facilities?
ANSWER: Please refer to the district Policy 707 – Use of School Facilities (Section D under Administrative Guidelines).

Monday, March 19, 2018

Question: What training do WSD athletic coaches participate in to ensure proper warm-up activities before a practice/game and learn best practices for their athletes to avoid injuries generally.
ANSWER:
WSD has a certified athletic trainer that works with our coaches in both areas. The trainer helps coaches develop warm-up routines and learn methods to handle injuries and prevent them. We also have preseason coach meetings for each of the three seasons where we go over athletic department procedures. All of our coaches complete the PIAA required annual concussion and cardiac education programs. Starting next school year, the PIAA has mandated that all coaches take the following two courses one time: (1) Principles of coaching; (2) Sports first aid.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Question: When can I expect an answer to the question I posed regarding the targets given to the district by the state for “Historically Underperforming” (HUP) students as it relates to closing the achievement gap that is reported on the state’s annual School Performance Profile (SPP)?
ANSWER: **PLEASE NOTE
: This question was originally asked at the 1/22/18 public board meeting and the answer was posted that same week on the Q&A page for that meeting. The answer has not changed and is repeated below. By way of additional information, schools demonstrate Closing the Achievement Gap by incrementally decreasing the percentage of students attaining a non-proficient score on the PSSA/Keystone by 50% from the baseline percentage over the course of six years. The value posted on the School Performance Profile is representative of the extent to which a school met or did not meet the cumulative incremental target. Annual incremental targets are determined by each school’s baseline performance measure and are posted on the state’s website for public (and district) review.

ANSWER FROM 1/22/18: The PDE has for years identified a subset of the state’s population as “historically underperforming,” or “HUP,” and the groups of students in this subset include a district’s special education, ESL and free/reduced lunch students. It is important to note that PDE chose NOT to include ethnicity groups in its HUP calculations. Years ago, PDE calculated, for each district, how much of a score gap existed between students in this aggregated, combined “HUP” subgroup and all students on a baseline year’s standardized test (PSSA), and then set annual goals (targets) for each district in terms of slowly but surely closing that gap. The state calculated both the gap and the annual “targets” and also issues the “score” that a district gets (on its annual SPP) in terms of meeting the goals. Because the state’s calculus does not include ethnic breakdowns, Wissahickon’s recently launched Achievement Gap Ten Year Attack Plan (AGTYAP) does not use any of the state’s figures or formulas, as we feel the omission of ethnic characteristics does not work for the achievement gap we have perceived here in Wissahickon and have set out to close.

Monday, January 22, 2018


Question:
What is the process used to obtain nominations for the WHS Hall of Fame and who are the members of the selection committee?
ANSWER:
An all-call for nominations for the 2018 Hall of Fame opened in mid-November and was advertised on the homepage and school pages of the WSD website and all social media outlets, including the district’s alumni Facebook page and Wissahickon High School Alumni group page. Additionally, all Wissahickon families, staff and coaches were emailed, a press release was sent to the newspapers, and an article was included in the WissNation newsletter. A reminder about the 1/31 deadline was sent to families and staff via email on 1/23/18 and posted again on social media. The selection committee includes the WHS Principal, WHS Athletics and Activities Director, District Communications Coordinator, three staff alumni and one alumni from the WEOF board.

Question: What is the “Historically Underperforming” (HUP) targets identified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) on the annual School Performance Profile (SPP) document and how did the district achieve a score of 100% on meeting those targets?
ANSWER:
The PDE has for years identified a subset of the state’s population as “historically underperforming,” or “HUP,” and the groups of students in this subset include a district’s special education, ESL and free/reduced lunch students. It is important to note that PDE chose NOT to include ethnicity groups in its HUP calculations. Years ago, PDE calculated, for each district, how much of a score gap existed between students in this aggregated, combined “HUP” subgroup and all students on a baseline year’s standardized test (PSSA), and then set annual goals (targets) for each district in terms of slowly but surely closing that gap. The state calculated both the gap and the annual “targets” and also issues the “score” that a district gets (on its annual SPP) in terms of meeting the goals. Because the state’s calculus does not include ethnic breakdowns, Wissahickon’s recently launched Achievement Gap Ten Year Attack Plan (AGTYAP) does not use any of the state’s figures or formulas, as we feel the omission of ethnic characteristics does not work for the achievement gap we have perceived here in Wissahickon and have set out to close.

Monday, October 9, 2017


Question:
Why does the district collect the social security numbers of students? How/where do we use these numbers, and are we required to collect them legally, or do we do it for a local district-related reason?
ANSWER: Years ago the district made a decision not to collect Social Security numbers because the information is too confidential and we didn’t want to upload or report that information to the state. Therefore, there are no social security numbers stored in our database.

Question: Are 18 year old students allowed to sign themselves out of school?
ANSWER: No, the district does not allow 18 year olds to sign themselves out of school.

Question: What steps could be taken to make alumni more involved in the annual Homecoming event and various volunteer initiatives throughout the year?
ANSWER: Last year, the district developed the Wissahickon Alumni Network to connect with alumni who are interested in volunteering in the schools, offering internships or assisting students as mentors, guest speakers and ambassadors. We have more than 200 alumni who have already signed up to be a part of the network and the WHS College and Career Counselor is actively working with them to provide networking and learning opportunities for students. Information is available here: http://www.wsdweb.org/our-community/alumni

To involve more alumni in Homecoming, this year we hosted the Alumni Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on the same date. Inductees were involved in a number of activities throughout the day to reconnect with students and staff. Inductees were also recognized at the Homecoming football game and supported by former classmates and family who attended the game.

Alumni are encouraged to stay connected by following the news on our Alumni Facebook, the Alumni section of our website and our quarterly e-newsletter Wiss Nation. You can subscribe to the e-newsletter here.

Monday, September 25, 2017


Question:
How is the district complying with the various provisions of the district’s wellness policy?
ANSWER:
This is a very broad question since there are many, many facets of the eleven-page policy. Please let us know of any specific areas for concern and we will investigate right away.

Question: What is the count of students participating in either a fall sport or a club at Middle School and WHS, as compared to last year?
ANSWER:
The district is gathering fall participation data and will be able to report on it more reliably (we want to be sure any mid-season changes are reflected) as the fall season winds down (to more accurately compare it to data from the same period of time last year).

Question: What is the count of students in the various world language programs at WMS and WHS for the 2017-18 school year?
ANSWER:
Please see the enrollment breakdown below:

French











Grade/Level

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017


7

131

27

94

104

46

79

74

65


8

48

117

25

82

93

42

70

70


I

44

24

52

34

59

46

23

39


II

67

64

124

51

96

117

57

72


III

55

50

52

115

41

73

97

43


IV

47

36

33

22

64

21

51

73


AP

23

14

18

14

12

21

11

14

German











Grade/Level

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017


7

26

82

40

24

65

37

67

48


8

40

26

74

36

18

63

28

61


I

22

19

16

21

12

18

20

14


II

35

35

31

52

50

30

45

35


III

30

28

27

21

45

40

22

38


IV

19

24

22

14

15

28

21

14


AP

9

11

15

11

10

11

13

11

Japanese











Grade/Level

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017


7

25

24

32

24

28

42

33

38


8

26

23

23

29

18

26

35

35


I

NA

NA

NA (9)

NA (6)

16

NA (7)

12

NA


II

37

24

20

18

18

26

23

31


III

46

34

19

15

16

17

14

21


IV

23

29

24

12

10

13

8

7


AP

7

10

12

9

9

6

8

4

Spanish











Grade/Level

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017


7

131

151

143

131

175

153

140

177


8

162

119

123

122

118

163

132

132


I

78

106

68

80

88

86

71

70


II

240

197

194

160

171

179

200

185


III

170

198

173

166

141

152

150

167


IV

64

72

55

46

29

44

78

100


AP

15

18

26

12

23

15

25

22


Question:
What is the district doing to provide aid or assistance to the hurricane victims in Texas and Florida?
ANSWER:
From October 2 – 31, the district, in partnership with the H&SAs and WEOF, is running a Hurricane Relief fundraiser to raise money for the American Red Cross recovery efforts in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Donation boxes are in every school for students and staff to make donations via cash or check and an online donation can be made by visiting the WSD website and clicking on the “WSD Supports Hurricane Relief” button on our homepage.

Question: What has the feedback been so far on the new board meeting format?
ANSWER:
The Board is compiling feedback (e.g., the first work session meeting was too long) and will incorporate it into upcoming agendas and meeting plans so that the initial objectives (enhanced communication and efficiency) are achieved to the greatest extent possible. The new format is a pilot of sorts, in that the Board is trying out a new approach (to maximize these objectives). If it is determined that any advantages are outweighed by any disadvantages, adjustments will be made (including a possible return to the old approach, but more time is needed before any conclusions about the new format can be drawn).