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