January 11, 2019
Hopefully you and your family had a wonderful holiday break and are ready for the New Year. The new calendar year marks the mid-term for the school year. As we move through the winter and into the spring, we will be speaking with students about their schedules for the 2019-2020 school year. Course offerings and plans for student courses were discussed at the Education Committee Meeting. Highlights of the discussion can be found below. Also, weather is usually a big topic of discussion in January and February. I thought sharing the process and strategies utilized for making a decision regarding delays and cancellation might also be helpful.
In January each year, the Education Committee convenes to discuss programming for the following school year. There are many factors (including budgeting, student scheduling, staffing, etc.) that make January the best month to conduct the meeting. In preparation for this meeting throughout the fall, teachers and administrators work together to discuss course offerings and programming needs for the following school year. This past Monday, the School Board and Administration collaborated to plan implementation of new programming for the 2019-2020 school year. A few highlights from the meeting are listed below:
- Project Lead the Way (PLTW) – Currently, Knoch High School has implemented the PLTW Engineering courses. In the 2019-2020 school year the South Butler School District will begin with the introductory course of the PLTW Biomedical Science program. Within the course, students explore concepts of biology and medicine to determine factors that led to the death of a fictional person. While investigating the case, students examine autopsy reports, investigate medical history, and explore medical treatments that might have prolonged the person’s life. The activities and projects introduce students to human physiology, basic biology, medicine and research processes while allowing them to design their own experiments to problem solve.
- Freshman Seminar – Freshman seminar is an introductory course that will be required of all 9th grade students. It is designed to support freshmen in getting acclimated to the high school setting. Students will develop skills that allow them to be successful throughout their high school careers. These areas will include communication skills, how to research effectively, leadership skills, career exploration and study skills. Students will be working to develop and refine social, emotional and academic proficiencies that will build toward lifelong achievement. Students will be working towards the PA Career Education and Work Standards.
- PSSA Math 7 course – Knoch Middle School will be providing a semester course in which every 7th grade student will participate in an additional math course. All students need a solid foundation in mathematics. The new PSSA Math 7 course will support in providing a deeper understanding of challenging mathematic concepts.
- Multi-Tiered System of Supports – Utilizing numerous assessments, students will continue to be supported with developing strong reading skills based upon each student’s unique learning needs. Students with specific reading challenges have been working with their teacher and a small group of peers engaging in remediation in order to improve literacy skills. During the upcoming school year, students in the South Butler Intermediate Elementary School will be provided with a similar program in mathematics.
- South Butler Primary School – Staff members will continue focusing upon in-house professional development in the area of Differentiated Instruction. Our staff continues to think through strategies to meet the unique learning needs of your child. Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) will also be utilized to support staff with the newly purchased reading series. Finally, we are working to identify and adopt new assessment tools to replace our current data collection system (GMade and GRade).
Weather conditions can create challenging mornings for the bus drivers and families in our school district. When it snows through the evening and overnight, I begin working with representatives of W.L. Roenigk busing at approximately 4:45AM. We discuss current conditions, the weather radar, and the hour-by-hour forecast. At times Roenigks even drive some of the local roads to assess conditions. Once a decision is made to delay/cancel, we begin the process for the automated call. There is a small delay as the computer system takes time to process the request, and while this is occurring, we inform TV and radio stations of our decision.
Cold weather calls can be made in the evening based upon the forecast. As a rule of thumb, I have tried to follow weather service guidelines found below:
The safety and welfare of our students, staff and families are our primary concern during challenging weather conditions. Weather delays/cancellations will occur if road conditions or temperatures are determined to be unsafe. The National Weather Service has criteria for each county in PA for calling a Wind Chill Advisory. If the Wind Chill (combination of real temperature and wind speed) is -10 degrees Fahrenheit or lower in Butler County, the National Weather Service issues a Wind Chill Advisory. When there is a Wind Chill Advisory during morning pick-up time, school will be delayed if temperatures are predicted to rise during the day. If there is a Wind Chill Advisory that will persist all day, then school may be canceled. Early dismissals for any reason other than an extreme emergency will be avoided if possible.
This is clearly not an exact science and probably the most challenging part of the job. I appreciate the patience of the entire South Butler County School District community.
South Butler County School District