Superintendent’s Message October 27, 2017

Dear Parents/Guardians and Community Members, 

I have several items of interest to share with our community.

American Education Week is almost here! Watch for notification from our schools about the activities and opportunities for participation that will occur during the week of November 13-17.

I have recently engaged in conversations about student achievement in the Upper Dublin schools. There is a sense among some of our community that our student achievement has declined in recent years. This concern appears to be based on the reports of our student achievement data from the School Performance Profile (SPP), which is based solely on student achievement as measured by the PSSA and Keystone standardized test data. The District has now received our 2016-2017 data and I am pleased to share that we have improvement in our student achievement scores, which have increased at UDHS, SRMS, JTES, FWES, and remained stable at TFES and MGES. I attribute this to our continuous improvement efforts addressing curriculum, instructional practice, scheduling and restructuring in our schools. Our building administrators are sharing these positive achievement results with our teachers and staff, and they will collaboratively analyze the results. As previously shared with our community, our SAT and AP scores continue to be very high; last year we experienced more students taking more AP tests with more scores of 3+ than ever before. Comprehensive reports on our achievement data will be presented during upcoming Education Committee and Legislative meetings.

I would also like to update our learning community on the status of planning for the facilities project at Sandy Run Middle School. The next Community Forum at SRMS will be held on November 14 with tours of the buildings beginning at 5:30 PM, followed by a 7:00 PM presentation including a Question & Answer session. Presentations from the Forums held in September and October may be accessed through the Sandy Run Facilities Project link on the District website homepage. The Board has accepted the recommendation of the SRMS Project Review Committee and all artifacts from the work of the committee, including the recommendation, are posted on the District website. At this time three options are under consideration: implement select capital improvements with no program improvements, renovate with an addition and site improvements including demolishing the Annex, and constructing a new building with site improvements.

The next step in the process is to have architectural firms review, validate and provide alternatives to these options if appropriate. Last evening the Operations Committee of the Board of School Directors reviewed the following timeline for issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for architects.

November 14, 2017: Board issues Request for Proposals to select school architects.

November 21, 2017: Architects review District information and walk through SRMS.

December 11, 2017: Architects respond with validation of existing options or submit alternative options, outline their proposed fees, provide information pertaining to their professional experience in school design projects, and complete all other RFP requirements.

January 8, 2018: Board announcement of short list of architects.

January 29, 2018: public presentations of architects’ proposals.

February 12, 2018: Board to select architect.

Information pertaining to this process will continue to be presented during the Board’s Operations and Finance Committee meetings and Legislative meetings.

Cardinal Point of Pride! Fourteen representatives of our Excellence and Equity Committee presented information about our District’s diversity work at the annual statewide PASA/PSBA conference. We were honored to be invited to share our presentation, One District’s Journey to Partner With Our Community, which featured the work of our seven student, parent and faculty committees addressing the variety of perspectives existing within the Upper Dublin school community. As a district we are committed to providing equitable opportunities for student success, and our excellence and equity groups provide insights into these perspectives as we partner to expand our capacity to meet the needs of all UD students. We are committed to “hearing, honoring and celebrating” our diversity and working to make UD Better Together.

Important information from our Human Resources department for our school volunteers and those who may be interested in employment with the District.

Our volunteers play a vibrant and important role in assisting our students and teachers, and in supporting the programs in our district, and we are very appreciative of those who continue to engage in this work. We now have a group of volunteers whose background checks are close to expiring and must be updated.

We urge all volunteers to check the expiration date on your card. If your card is close to expiring please update your background checks with our Human Resource Office before the expiration date.

More information about the volunteer process can be found on the School District Human Resources page:  http://www.udsd.org/departments/human-resources/#toggle-id-6

Additionally, the District is actively seeking bus drivers and food service workers along with substitute teachers, teaching assistants, and cafeteria/playground assistants. The District will now provide training for bus driver candidates.

If you know of candidates who might be interested in any of these positions, please refer them to the District website or to our Human Resources Office at 215 643-8800, ext. 0.

The Board of School Directors will hold their next Legislative Meeting on Monday, November 13, 2017 at 7:00 P.M. in the Cardinal Room at UDHS. All members of the community are encouraged to attend. Members of the public may access agenda and documents through BoardDocs on the District website. Go to the Board of Directors page under Board agendas tab and click on the meeting listed on the appropriate date. Agendas and materials will be available approximately 48 hours before the meeting.

As always, I invite interested members of the Upper Dublin community to contact me with any questions or concerns you might have. I can be reached at 215 643-8802 or through dwheeler@udsd.org . Follow me on Twitter @UDSDSupt.

Sincerely,

Deborah S. Wheeler, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Superintendent’s Message September 15, 2017

 

From the desk of the Superintendent  

Dear Parents/Guardians and Community Members,

Welcome back to school! As we reconvened last week we welcomed 4,129 students including 381 members of the Senior Class of 2018, and 271 Kindergarteners who represent the UDHS Class of 2030. A tone of enthusiasm and excitement was pervasive within each of our schools. Our buildings were sparkling and our teachers and students eased quickly and easily into their routines. In light of the programmatic improvements initiated during the past few years, we will use this current school year as an implementation year to provide time to monitor and adjust as we roll out new curricula, new schedules and new student support systems. Several informational sessions to update parents have been scheduled and information is provided below.  We are off to a positive beginning!

Sandy Run Middle School Facility Project

I would like to bring our community up to date as we follow the process to develop the scope and form of a plan to address the needs of the Sandy Run Middle School facility. The SRMS Project Review Committee met in four sessions and considered three options: implement select capital improvements with no program improvements; renovate with additions and site improvements including demolishing the Annex; and construction of one new building with site improvements. Options are presented HERE. Following a review of the existing site plan, educational specifications, and financing options available to the District, the committee developed a recommendation to the Board of School Directors. Briefly, the core recommendation has two parts:

(1) The committee advised that the District develop an updated long-term district-wide capital plan.

(2) As informed by that plan, when the District is prepared to take on a major project at the middle school, that project should be a new building on the existing site rather than a renovation.

I can assure our community that no decisions have yet been made by the Board about what such a project would entail. We have heard expressions of concern from some community members  who wish to ensure that the Board does not move hastily and considers all options, that the needs in our other buildings be appropriately addressed, that inclusion of a planetarium and wrestling room be addressed in planning. And the Board is committed to due diligence in taking the time necessary to fully consider all possibilities.  

During the Legislative Meeting on Monday night, the Board adopted the District Wide Capital Improvements Plan dated May 7, 2014 and updated July 17, 2017. The plan may be accessed HERE.  Approval of this plan is the first step towards developing an application for Plan Con, the PA Dept of Education school construction reimbursement program. Although a moratorium on approving new applications for school construction projects is currently in place, we wish to be positioned to file our Plan Con application when the PDE begins to accept new applications. A preliminary application has been developed, using an estimate from the options considered as a placeholder, however that application remains a draft document and can be revised before submission or withdrawn after submission.

Our next step is for the Board to receive the recommendation from the Project Review Committee, and that is scheduled for the October 9 legislative meeting. Also on October 9 the Board will consider action to develop a Request For Proposals (RFP) from architects that will require submissions addressing the three options considered by the Project Review Committee and to offer any other options for facility improvements that they determine appropriate.

The Board will hold a Community Forum to share information and seek feedback from the community on September 26 at 7:00 PM at SRMS. The Forum will be preceded by tours of the building beginning at 5:30 PM. We thank the SRMS PTO for graciously allowing time that was set aside for their September meeting to be used for this Community Forum. Additional forums will be held on October 16 and November 14.

Information for Parents

Parent information sessions are now scheduled to provide updated information on our elementary literacy, mathematics and science programs.

On Monday, September 18 at 6:00 PM an overview and discussion of Fundations, a systematic program to teach critical reading and writing foundational skills including handwriting, phonics, phonemic awareness and spelling, will be held in the UDHS Media Center. Fundations is being implemented this year in our primary classrooms as a supplement to ReadyGen. That session will be followed at 7:00 PM an overview and discussion of our Response to Intervention and Instruction (RTII) student support program. A daytime presentation of these sessions early this week was well received by parents who attended. Click HERE for more information.

Two Science and Math information sessions are scheduled for September 25 in the Barn Board Room located at the Administrative Offices on Fort Washington Avenue. Parents may attend sessions at 12:00 and 1:00 PM, or at 7:00 and 8:00 PM. An RSVP is requested for the Science and Math sessions HERE.

For our parents interested in learning more about Mindfulness, the Resiliency Center will present a Mindfulness Parent Evening Event on October 11 at 7:00 PM in the UDHS media center.

The Board of School Directors will hold their next Legislative Meeting on Monday, October 9, 2017 at 7:00 P.M. in the Cardinal Room at UDHS. All members of the community are encouraged to attend. Members of the public may access agenda and documents through BoardDocs on the District website. Go to the Board of Directors page under Board agendas tab and click on the meeting listed on the appropriate date. Agendas and materials will be available approximately 48 hours before the meeting.

As always, I invite interested members of the Upper Dublin community to contact me with any questions or concerns you might have. I can be reached at 215 643-8802 or through dwheeler@udsd.org . Follow me on Twitter @UDSDSupt.

 

Sincerely,

Deborah S. Wheeler, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Back to School!

Today we welcomed 4,129 students back to school for the 2017-2018 school year. The UDHS Class of 2018 met to launch their traditional “Senior year” activities. Our four elementary schools are welcoming to Kindergarten the UDHS Class of 2030! This is a special time of year and we are sending a Cardinal Thank You to all of our students, families, faculty, and staff for a very positive and energizing first day of school.

Deborah S. Wheeler, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Superintendent’s Message August 18, 2017

From the desk of the Superintendent

Dear Parents/Guardians and Community Members,

It’s that exciting time of year as we draw close to the first day of the 2017-2018 school year on Tuesday, September 5, 2017. The calendar is on the District website and is being continuously updated.

Information on bus pick up and drop off locations and times will be emailed to families on Monday. Information regarding high school and middle school classroom assignments and schedules will be posted in the Home Access Center (HAC) on Wednesday afternoon. Additionally, parents are urged to update demographic data in the HAC. Demographic updates in the HAC streamlines a significant portion of our beginning of the school year demographic data collection. Updating information online allows us to communicate efficiently in cases of emergency starting from the first day of school. We ask that parents complete this by September 5. If you updated your information last year, you only need to open the registration update button for each student, and confirm there are no changes.

Directions can be found here. If parents have trouble with their HAC username or password, please contact the secretary in your child’s school.

 

Our custodians and other members of our Facilities and Technology departments have been working to prepare the schools for opening day, and their work has resulted in gleaming floors throughout the schools and new interactive boards in many of our classrooms. Our teachers and administrators have been working through the summer, continuing to update our curriculum, participating in professional development, and beginning to review our preliminary achievement data reports. I am pleased to share with our community that our initial analysis of the Spring 2017 PSSA and Keystone data demonstrates improvement in most of our tested areas, in our AP participation and scores, and in our discipline data. Full reports will be presented during Education Committee and Board legislative meetings following the release of the 2016-2017 SPP in October.   

 

New Vaccination Requirements:  a reminder to all families that effective August 2017 changes to the school vaccination requirements outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Health will be in effect. On the first day of school unless your child has a medical or religious/philosophical exemption he/she must have had at least one dose of the required vaccinations or risk exclusion from school.  Please see District website for a link to the Immunization document provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. If you have questions regarding immunization requirements, please contact your healthcare provider or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH for more information.  Questions pertaining to your child may be directed to your school nurse.

 

Chromebook information: Fifth grade students and students new to the District in grades 6-12 who have participated in the technology fee will be able to pick up their Chromebook August 25-31 at the front office of their school. Parents and students who would like a brief orientation to the device and program, can attend an optional orientation session at the Upper Dublin High School on August 22 (am and pm options) or August 23 (am option), picking up their Chromebook then. If you are interested in attending please RSVP here (please select only one option).

If you have not yet ordered your student’s Chromebook, you may learn about the program here. If you are looking for cover or case suggestions, please scroll to the bottom of this page.

 

The SRMS Project Review Committee has developed a recommendation to the Board in regard to a facilities improvement project. Briefly, the core recommendation has two parts:

(1) The committee advised that the District develop an updated long-term district-wide capital plan.

(2) As informed by that plan, when the District is prepared to take on a major project at the middle school, that project should be a new building on the existing site rather than a renovation.

The Board will hold a Community Forum to share information and seek feedback from the community on September 26 at SRMS. The Forum will follow the SRMS PTO meeting that evening and will be preceded by tours of the building. Specific times for tours will be posted on the District website. Additional forums will be scheduled throughout the next several months.

 

The District’s Excellence and Equity Steering Consortium is celebrating its fourth year. The consortium is comprised of seven committees of students, staff and community members who believe that the highest level of quality in research, teaching and service can only be achieved when diverse perspectives are engaged. If you would like more information click here. If you are interested in joining one or more of our committees, click here. This year we are beginning a #UDBetterTogether campaign to promote mutual understanding. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see how all of UDSD is indeed better together.

 

The Board of School Directors will hold their next Legislative Meeting on Monday, August 21, at 7:00 P.M. in the Cardinal Room at UDHS. All members of the community are encouraged to attend. Members of the public may access agenda and documents through BoardDocs on the District website. Go to the Board of Directors page under Board agendas tab and click on the meeting listed on the appropriate date. Agendas and materials will be available 48 hours before the meeting.

 

As always, I invite interested members of the Upper Dublin community to contact me with any questions or concerns you might have. I can be reached at 215 643-8802 or through dwheeler@udsd.org . Follow me on Twitter @UDSDSupt.

 

Sincerely,

Deborah S. Wheeler, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Superintendent’s Message 5/5/17

Dear Parents/Guardians and Community Members,

A hearty Cardinal thank you to the Upper Dublin community for your enthusiastic support of our UD Education Foundation during the 19th annual “Foundation Day” held this week at George’s Market. Our students performed superbly, the volunteers went “above and beyond”, and our community responded enthusiastically.

We are looking forward to the UD Medals celebration on May 17, where the District will join the Upper Dublin Township community in honoring our 2017 Medals recipients:  Educator Esther Miller and Students Emma Barsky and Philip Dowdell, in addition to Citizen Ken Foster and the Community Ambulance Association of Ambler, winner of the Non-Profit Medal. Please join us!

As the school year draws to a close several important dates are quickly approaching. On Monday June 12 our Upper Dublin High School Class of 2017 will graduate. The commencement ceremony will be held at Cardinal Stadium at 7:00 PM. Our rain date is set for June 13, however all fingers are crossed that Mother Nature will smile for us again this year.

Other dates to note:

SRMS 8th Grade Promotion will be held on Thursday June 15 at 9:30 AM in the UDHS gymnasium,

Fort Washington 5th Grade Promotion will be held on Friday June 16 at 9:15 AM in the UDHS Performing Arts Center,

Jarrettown 5th Grade Promotion will be held on Thursday June 15 at 1:30 PM in the UDHS Performing Arts Center,

Maple Glen 5th Grade Promotion will be held on Thursday June 15 at 1:30 at MGES, and

Thomas Fitzwater 5th Grade Promotion will be held on Friday June 16 at 9:00 AM at TFES.

Our last day of school will be on Friday, June 16. For your summer planning please note that the 2017-2018 school year will begin on Tuesday September 5, 2017, and the annual calendar is now posted on the District website.   

Several seemingly unrelated topics have recently been the source of conversation in our community and I would like to address them as a whole, because I believe they are related. US News recently released their ratings of the “top high schools” for 2017 and for another year Upper Dublin High School was not ranked. In reviewing our performance through our 2015-2016 school year data we find that Upper Dublin performs well overall, however we still do not do well for our economically disadvantaged students and this disparity emerges when student achievement data is disaggregated, as required, by subgroups. We know that our performance measures for graduation rates and college readiness data are exceptionally high. The gap that we continue to experience in performance measured through the comparison of “all students” growth data and “economically disadvantaged students” growth data is the reason for our exclusion from this list. We recognize this problem and have launched several program improvements to address this achievement gap.

I continue to hear a disparity of opinions about the real importance of test scores and rankings. Some members of our community believe that these are of utmost importance and they eloquently share concerns that unless our “scores” increase there will be negative impact on property values and that some potential home buyers now look elsewhere because of these public rankings. Equally passionate are those who firmly believe that ”scores” should not be drivers of our decision-making in regard to our educational programming and that we must prioritize our efforts on providing a child-friendly educational environment. As I reflect on these arguments, I have come to understand that each of these apparently contradictory perspectives are accurate and not mutually exclusive.

We have a documented achievement gap that we must address; all students enrolled in our schools have the right to have their educational needs met in a manner that leads to their success. And we must continue to provide an appropriate educational program in a manner that respects the developmental needs of all students, including emotional, social, and physical well-being in addition to academic achievement.

To that end, we have implemented during the past several years program improvements that we believe will meet these varying needs. We have written standards aligned curricula in all of our content areas and adopted new Mathematics and Reading programs to better deliver this curriculum. We have developed a plan to reduce academic levels in high school courses to increase rigor for all students while funding supports for our students and teachers as we implement this plan. Our professional development activities are designed to support these initiatives and we are working with our teachers to provide professional learning to meet the needs that they have identified.

We are redesigning our student support system, Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTII), to ensure that we are once again delivering academic and emotional/behavioral support as needed. To guarantee that we are implementing RTII with fidelity, and to meet the needs of our teachers as they work with new curriculum and programs, we have reviewed our schedules at the middle school and elementary school levels.  We have now adopted a new schedule for Sandy Run Middle School and our budget proposal includes funding for three new positions. These include a teacher to teach accelerated Math in 6th grade and two teachers to add another team in 8th grade.

Our elementary school scheduling  workgroup is drafting, soliciting feedback, and redrafting a schedule designed to ensure that we make the best use of time as a resource to provide instruction and intervention while promoting the social-emotional well-being of all of our students.  One area of consideration in this process has been the question of how recess will fit into a revised schedule.  The District is committed to providing  at least 25 minutes of guaranteed recess per day for every student every day and is currently considering increases to lunch time and the role of a scheduled or discretionary second recess at each grade level.  

We have heard from parents who advocate strongly to include a dedicated second recess time throughout the elementary grades, and their input is being examined by the workgroup.  Of importance to our administration is the flexibility for our teachers to use their professional judgement to provide optimal movement and “brain breaks” for our students throughout the day.  The work of this group continues; we anticipate a presentation of their work within a few weeks and will continue to  gather  parental input. In sum, we take very seriously our charge to provide quality educational programs that meet the expectations of all of our parents and community members, and to that end we will continue to seek and understand feedback and to communicate our continuous improvement efforts through our Board of Directors’ committee and legislative meetings, PTO/PTA meetings, and ad hoc meetings scheduled as requested by our constituents.   

Our Guidance Department recently released an alert related to the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” to the parents of our high school and middle school students, and I would like to share this information with all of our parents and community members. The mental health community has issued concerns about this graphic television series, based on a popular young adult novel, that tells the story of a high school student who ends her life after recording 13 tapes that implicate others in her death. The 13 episodes present the struggles that led to her suicide, and the struggles of her friends as they try to make sense of this terrible event.  To support parents in discussing the topic of suicide with their children, our Guidance Office provides this link jedfoundation.org as one reference and source of information. The Jed Foundation is a non-profit organization working to promote emotional health and prevent suicide among students. Our counselors are always available to meet with students and parents if there is a concern or need, or to provide additional resources to support our families. Please contact the counselor at your child’s school at any time.

The Board of School Directors will hold their next Legislative Meeting on May 8 , 2017, at 7:00 P.M. in the Cardinal Room at UDHS. All members of the community are encouraged to attend. Members of the public may access agenda and documents through BoardDocs on the District website. Go to the Board of Directors tab and click on the meeting listed on the appropriate date. Agendas and materials will be available 48 hours before the meeting.

As always, I invite interested members of the Upper Dublin community to contact me with any questions or concerns you might have. I can be reached at 215 643-8802 or through dwheeler@udsd.org . Follow me on Twitter @UDSDSupt.

 

Sincerely,

Deborah S. Wheeler, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Superintendent’ Message 12/13/16

December 13, 2016

From the desk of the Superintendent

Dear Parents/Guardians and Community Members,

During our Education Committee meeting last week we addressed in depth our most recent standardized test data as presented in the 2016 School Performance Profile, and we have scheduled an additional presentation next month to benchmark our District scores with those of neighboring high achieving districts.

During our presentation we again emphasized that the scores from the Keystones and PSSA are only one indicator of student achievement. Districts often describe this as a “snapshot in time” and continue to look at other measures of achievement ranging from other scores such as SAT, and other measures such as high school graduation rates and the competitiveness of the schools that our graduates attend.

This emphasis on other measures was reinforced last week when PA Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera announced his recommendations for replacing the SPP with a new measure of school success, the Future Ready PA Index. This annual Index report will be structured to provide more holistic measures, and we believe more useful information, about how our students and schools are performing. Although it appears that the Future Ready PA Index will retain some of the characteristics of the current SPP, the weighting of those indicators will be modified. Representative changes include:

  • addressing the issue of unequal weighting of some content areas, for example achievement in English/Language Arts is more heavily weighted than Mathematics, and we do not believe this provides an accurate representation of our educational program
  • Increasing the weighting of rigorous course offerings such as AP and dual enrollments, which we believe will more accurately represent UD and our students’ achievement
  • allowing schools to include locally-selected reading assessments in grade 3 and math assessments in grade 7 as additional points of student progress, this is very important to us as it will provide what we believe are more accurate data about our students’ achievement
  • awarding extra credit to schools graduating students with at least one industry recognized credential, which our students may earn through a program such as the Eastern Center for Arts and Technology which we deeply value as an educational opportunity for our students.

This action from the PA Department of Education aligns with the reauthorized Federal legislation that led us from No Child Left Behind to the Every Student Succeeds Act. A recent article in NEA Today reported that “ESSA calls for multiple measures of accountability, which may include system indicators such as access to advanced coursework, college and career readiness, and student engagement”, and this ties directly into the work that we are doing here in Upper Dublin. We have rewritten our curriculum with improvements to our assessment practices and are exploring other options to increase course rigor and achievement for all of our students.

Our data presentation last week revealed that while our “achievement” scores are not where we expect them to be, the more significant problem that we face is the need to improve “growth” scores for our students, those “value added measures” that indicate a student’s academic progress from year to year and that will receive increased weight in the new Future Ready PA Index.

We have implemented several important initiatives to address this, including adopting new Mathematics and Reading programs, and reducing academic leveling at the high school. We continue to explore additional options to improve our educational program. We are engaged in studies of our Gifted program and our intervention programs at all schools. We anticipate next month a recommendation about improvements to the schedule at Sandy Run Middle School.

There has been some conversation in the community about two other topics related to our improvement efforts that were discussed during our Education Committee meeting last week. I want to assure our community members that these are potential proposals that are being explored at this time; no recommendations or decisions have been made.

Our data review has documented the need for improvement planning at our elementary level. We saw that demonstrated last week in our low elementary schools’ growth scores in the 2016 PSSA results. We are also engaged in a needed review of our Response To Instruction and Intervention program to ensure

  1. Effective interventions and support for all students
  2. Common experience for all UD students across the 4 elementary schools as they all prepare to enter Sandy Run Middle School.

Several possible actions to address this need to improve our educational program include a review of how we allocate time at our elementary schools. One potential step that we are discussing, considering all pros and cons, is aligning all four schools with a schedule that provides one large block of time for lunch and recess instead of two smaller recess blocks. Our discussions are not about eliminating recess time; but rather on using recess time, and all of our instructional time, differently. No decisions have been made, nor do we anticipate that these discussions will be ending soon.

Similarly, we are examining how we provide academic supports for our students in a more balanced and directed format. One proposal that came from our elementary school principals and curriculum department is to create a position in each school of Instructional Support Specialist, a certified teacher who would work with classroom teachers to provide remediation and enrichment for students needing either support. I cite the principals as the source of this idea not to push responsibility onto to them, but to reinforce that this proposal, which I do support, came directly from the instructional leaders in our schools. The difficulty with moving forward with this improvement next year is funding; we simply cannot add four new teaching positions along with our other budgetary obligations. There is a possible solution in raising minimally the class size cap in our upper elementary grades from 24 to 26 which would allow us to move between two and four teachers into Instructional Support Specialists positions. I emphasize that no decisions or recommendations have been made, nor do we anticipate that there will be a quick decision. The considerations of pros and cons about this continue.

I appreciate the productive comments that I have received from several parents advocating against one or both of these initiatives. One parent indicated willingness to support a budget increase to add the positions. Another indicated that their child does not need longer blocks of uninterrupted instructional time, their child is doing well in school. These perspectives are valid, but they must be balanced against the needs of other community members who are seeking tax relief, and those whose children do need longer blocks of uninterrupted instructional time. And those conflicting needs are and will continue to drive our discussions about these topics over the next several months. Thank you for bearing with us as we work to develop recommendations for the Board that will support all UD students in reaching our vision that, with equitable opportunities, all students will achieve the successful outcomes that they and their parents anticipate.   

The Board of School Directors will hold their next Legislative Meeting on January 9, 2017, at 7:00 P.M. in the Cardinal Room at UDHS. All members of the community are encouraged to attend. Members of the public may access agenda and documents through the District website. Go to the Calendar and click on the meeting listed on the appropriate date. Agendas and materials will be available 48 hours before the meeting.

As always, I invite interested members of the Upper Dublin community to contact me with any questions or concerns you might have. I can be reached at 215 643-8802 or through dwheeler@udsd.org . Follow me on Twitter @UDSDSupt.

Sincerely,

Deborah S. Wheeler, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Superintendent’s Message

November 15, 2016

From the desk of the Superintendent

Dear Parents/Guardians and Community Members,

It is American Education Week and we invite parents and guardians to help us celebrate the excellent education program that we provide for all students in Upper Dublin! If you have not yet scheduled classroom visits and lunch dates with your children in their schools please contact the school and arrangements will be shared. We are justifiably proud of our schools and recognize the investment of our community and strong support of our families. We have talented and dedicated teachers, staff and administrators, and a Board of Directors focused on meeting our vision that all UD students will achieve the post-secondary outcomes for which they and their families strive.

To that end I am pleased to share the following updates with our community.

The 2016 School Performance Profile was recently released by the PA Department of Education and I can report growth in both our overall UDHS score and in our progress toward closing the achievement gap as evidenced by the growth measures for our Historically Underperforming Subgroups. We are beginning to realize the positive results of our focused improvement efforts. A full report on our student achievement data will be presented during the Education Committee meeting on December 5 at 6:00 PM in the Cardinal Room at UDHS.  

Our District website now features updated links to our Curriculum, providing program descriptions and course sequences. Please click here to view. I encourage parents and community members to visit the site for information pertaining to our redesigned standards based curriculum.

Recommendations from the Sandy Run Middle School Scheduling Study report will be presented to the Board of Directors next month. The committee has been deeply engaged in researching various scheduling options that can improve our instructional program, and members have conducted site visits to view those options in practice. We look forward to receiving the recommendation as an important element of our continuing improvement planning.

Dr. George Giovanis has been hired as the Interim Principal at Fort Washington Elementary School. Dr. Giovanis is an experienced elementary school principal who will focus his work on supporting both the educational program and the school culture while our search for our next principal continues. We have garnered a number of applicants and first round interviews of candidates are scheduled. Mrs. Hultquist will remain at FWES through next week and will work with Dr. Giovanis to facilitate the transition. We will miss the leadership that Mrs. Hultquist provided at FWES as Principal for the past four years, and wish her well as she moves to a principalship in her home school district.

This week I joined our Directors of Curriculum/Instruction/Assessment and Technology at a Future Ready conference where we benchmarked our technology device rollout and use of Google Apps for Education against best practice in transforming schools through effective use of digital learning strategies.  Mrs. Morrison, Mr. Vinogradov and I reviewed the report that analyzed the findings of our technology integration self study and will be utilized in our District comprehensive planning. Our progress in integrating technology as an instructional tool has become effective and efficient; we will continue the forward momentum as an element of our continuous improvement efforts.   

The Board of Directors will hold their next Legislative Meeting on December 12, 2016, at 7:00 P.M. in the Cardinal Room at UDHS. All members of the community are encouraged to attend. Members of the public may access agenda and documents through the District website. Go to the Calendar and click on the meeting listed on the appropriate date. Agendas and materials will be available 48 hours before the meeting.

As always, I invite interested members of the Upper Dublin community to contact me with any questions or concerns you might have. I can be reached at 215 643-8802 or through dwheeler@udsd.org . Follow me on Twitter @UDSDSupt.

Sincerely,

Deborah S. Wheeler, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Superintendents Message 10-19-16

October 20, 2016

From the desk of the Superintendent

Dear Parents/Guardians and Community Members,

As I write this message our community is grieving the loss of one of our youngest students.

Our faculty and staff is committed to supporting the Demar family and all members of our community as we face this tragic loss together. Our counselors and school psychologists will continue their presence at Maple Glen Elementary School, and support is also available to students in each of our other schools. Please reach out to your school principal if you would like to discuss the need for support for your child or your family. I would also like to share with our families a list of community resources should you or your child need assistance that is beyond the scope of our schools. Please click HERE. Additionally, a list of self-care and coping strategies that are used by our counseling staff in working with our students is HERE.  

Services for Jenna Demar will be held tomorrow and we anticipate that a school and District remembrance will occur with a tree planting later in the school year.  Our school personnel will continue to be available to provide on-going support for our community members.

The District is preparing to enter the search process for a new principal for Fort Washington Elementary School. Stephanie Hultquist has accepted a principal position in her home school district of Pennsbury.  While we are very sorry to lose an administrator of her caliber and experience we understand that this change will be beneficial for Mrs. Hultquist and her family, and we wish her well as she moves to this next stage of her career and her new professional opportunity. The District will engage in a comprehensive search and the position has been posted with a closing date of November 1. We are working to retain an interim principal while we complete a thorough search; we anticipate that an interim principal will be appointed and a transition date will be announced soon.  It has been the practice of the School District of Upper Dublin to involve all stakeholders in a principal selection process. We have great faith in this process that has led to the hiring of outstanding education professionals in our school and District leadership positions.

A survey will be sent to Fort Washington parents and staff via email/e-notify within the next two weeks, to allow all stakeholders to share their perspective on the characteristics that should be sought in our next FWES principal.

Comprehensive planning for the District’s November 1, 2017 submission to the PA Department of Education has begun. Early this week a group of District and Township constituents collaboratively completed a self-assessment that reviewed our practices in the areas of curriculum & instruction, technology integration, facility usage, communication and finances. The results from that assessment will be utilized to guide work groups in developing the District’s next three year Comprehensive Plan. Information about the comprehensive planning process will be shared through Board of Directors Legislative and committee meetings during the school year.

The Board of Directors will hold their next Legislative Meeting on November 7, 2016, at 7:00 P.M. in the Cardinal Room at UDHS. All members of the community are encouraged to attend. Members of the public may access agenda and documents through the District website. Go to the Calendar and click on the meeting listed on the appropriate date. Agendas and materials will be available 48 hours before the meeting.

As always, I invite interested members of the Upper Dublin community to contact me with any questions or concerns you might have. I can be reached at 215 643-8802 or through dwheeler@udsd.org . Follow me on Twitter @UDSDSupt.

Sincerely,

Deborah S. Wheeler, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

 

Superintendent’s Message

October 20, 2016

 

From the desk of the Superintendent

Dear Parents/Guardians and Community Members,

As I write this message our community is grieving the loss of one of our youngest students.

Our faculty and staff is committed to supporting the Demar family and all members of our community as we face this tragic loss together. Our counselors and school psychologists will continue their presence at Maple Glen Elementary School, and support is also available to students in each of our other schools. Please reach out to your school principal if you would like to discuss the need for support for your child or your family. I would also like to share with our families a list of community resources should you or your child need assistance that is beyond the scope of our schools. Please click HERE. Additionally, a list of self-care and coping strategies that are used by our counseling staff in working with our students is HERE.  

Services for Jenna Demar will be held tomorrow and we anticipate that a school and District remembrance will occur with a tree planting later in the school year.  Our school personnel will continue to be available to provide on-going support for our community members.

The District is preparing to enter the search process for a new principal for Fort Washington Elementary School. Stephanie Hultquist has accepted a principal position in her home school district of Pennsbury.  While we are very sorry to lose an administrator of her caliber and experience we understand that this change will be beneficial for Mrs. Hultquist and her family, and we wish her well as she moves to this next stage of her career and her new professional opportunity. The District will engage in a comprehensive search and the position has been posted with a closing date of November 1. We are working to retain an interim principal while we complete a thorough search; we anticipate that an interim principal will be appointed and a transition date will be announced soon.  It has been the practice of the School District of Upper Dublin to involve all stakeholders in a principal selection process. We have great faith in this process that has led to the hiring of outstanding education professionals in our school and District leadership positions.

A survey will be sent to Fort Washington parents and staff via email/e-notify within the next two weeks, to allow all stakeholders to share their perspective on the characteristics that should be sought in our next FWES principal.

Comprehensive planning for the District’s November 1, 2017 submission to the PA Department of Education has begun. Early this week a group of District and Township constituents collaboratively completed a self-assessment that reviewed our practices in the areas of curriculum & instruction, technology integration, facility usage, communication and finances. The results from that assessment will be utilized to guide work groups in developing the District’s next three year Comprehensive Plan. Information about the comprehensive planning process will be shared through Board of Directors Legislative and committee meetings during the school year.

The Board of Directors will hold their next Legislative Meeting on November 7, 2016, at 7:00 P.M. in the Cardinal Room at UDHS. All members of the community are encouraged to attend. Members of the public may access agenda and documents through the District website. Go to the Calendar and click on the meeting listed on the appropriate date. Agendas and materials will be available 48 hours before the meeting.

 

As always, I invite interested members of the Upper Dublin community to contact me with any questions or concerns you might have. I can be reached at 215 643-8802 or through dwheeler@udsd.org . Follow me on Twitter @UDSDSupt.

 

Sincerely,

Deborah S. Wheeler, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Superintendent’s Message 6. 8. 2016

June 8, 2016

From the desk of the Superintendent

Dear Parents/Guardians and Community Members,

This truly is a season of celebration across the District. On Monday evening, in an inspiring ceremony held under beautiful skies, the UDHS Class of 2016 became graduates. Our collective pride in these students was evident by the parents, grandparents, families and friends who filled the stands at Cardinal Stadium, by the participation in the ceremony of many K-12 administrators and teachers, and in the speakers’ remarks. The Guidance office reports that 299 grads plan to attend a 4 year college, 61 plan to attend a 2 year college, 6 will move directly to employment, 2 to the military, 3 to volunteer work, and 5 intend to take a “gap” year.  Congratulations to our newest Cardinal alumni!

Additionally, promotion ceremonies will be held for our 8th graders on June 15. Promotion ceremonies for our 5th graders will also be held next week, with Maple Glen and Jarrettown celebrating on June 15 and Thomas Fitzwater and Ft. Washington on June 16. June 16 will also be the last day of the school year.  

A gentle reminder that the first day of school for the 2016-2017 school year will be September 6.

 

UPDATE: Parents’ access to Home Access Center (HAC):  

This summer we will use the Home Access Center (often referred to as the HAC) to streamline a significant portion of our beginning of the school year demographic data collection that in previous years required multiple paper forms.  Having parents update this important information before school begins will allow the district to have accurate family contact information in a more timely manner, allow our PTO/PTAs to publish their directories earlier in the school year, and reduce the number of forms sent home in hard copy. Some required forms such as the District student health form will still be collected in hard copy to permit original signatures.

Families can now access the HAC to:

  • Update contact information and emergency contacts for each of their children;
  • Opt-in or out of having their child(ren)’s name and/or photo included in District publications (i.e. website, yearbook, etc.);
  • Acknowledge acceptance of the District’s Acceptable Use Policy and Administrative Regulation #815;
  • Opt-in to the school directory published by their school’s PTO/PTA and to customize what family/student information is shared in those publications.

Updated Information: Parents can access the Home Access Center from the Quick Links of the school website, which also contains a video tutorial for how to update demographic information. If parents require login/password information, they should contact the building secretary for their student.

We appreciate support for this improvement in communication between the schools and our families, and send a sincere “thank you” to our PTO/PTA/SPEAC/PAGE leadership for their suggestions and constructive feedback as we develop these improvements to the HAC.

The Board of Directors will hold their next Legislative Meeting on June 13, 2016, at 7:00 P.M. in the Cardinal Room at UDHS. All members of the community are encouraged to attend. Approved minutes from Board meetings may be accessed on the District website.

 

As always, I invite interested members of the Upper Dublin community to contact me with any questions or concerns you might have. I can be reached at 215 643-8802 or through dwheeler@udsd.org . Follow me on Twitter @UDSDSupt.

 

Sincerely,

Deborah S. Wheeler, Ed.D.

Signature

Superintendent of Schools