Keystones, mascot, suspensions all discussed at busy UCF Board meeting

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By  JP Phillips, Staff Writer, The Times

Brandon Tsai, Chirag Choudhary, Ibraheen Qureshi and Arnab Sircar.  Robert Wang is not pictured of the Patton Middle School Academic team.

EAST MARLBOROUGH — The January 22, 2018 Unionville Chadds-Ford school board meeting was held in the recently-refurbished Charles F. Patton middle school auditorium.  Principal Steve Dissinger kicked off the meeting by describing some of the charitable and cultural events held this school year.  He also joined the board and community in congratulating the CFP Academic Quiz team, who heads to the national competition in Chicago this May.

January is School Director Recognition month.  Board members are elected for four-year terms and serve their community and school district without any pay. 

Superintendent John Sanville had kind words for this board. “We are in a unique position here to have a school board that is supportive, that is hardworking, talented…Eight of the nine members here will be in their seats for six years.  And to have that kind of stable and constant leadership really leaves the district to … have continued initiatives and to follow through on long term goals.”

The Unionville-Chadds Ford Board of Education holds up plaques made by students in honor of School Director Recognition Month.

High school student representative Gavin Brezski presented each member with a plaque made by a few students in the high school’s Technology and Engineering Education department with department chair Mike Berkeihiser.  The engraved plaques were made from wood reclaimed from the 1957 high school auditorium.  Additionally, each of the district’s school libraries will receive a book dedicated to the board, reminding future students of this board’s dedication.

Brezski continued Sanville’s kind words.  “I have had the pleasure to watch the thought and consideration that this board gives to every decision that they make.  As a student and community member, one of the things I hold most important is when people listen with thoughtful attention.  And I could not be more pleased with the thoughtful attention this board gives to every comment, criticism given by a resident, administrator, or fellow school director…The appreciation that I have for each and every one of you is astronomical, and the district is lucky to have each and every one of you.”

In other actions, the board unanimously approved purchasing a $2,295 license for Family ID, an athletic department software package that will greatly simplify the collection of student sports forms.

They also rejected a motion that would have eliminated the Keystone exams part of UHS’s graduation requirements.  As she did at last week’s work session, board member Carolyn Daniels questioned if any student has failed to graduate due to this requirement.  Assistant Superintendent John Nolen reiterated that should a student not pass a test, he/she is given remedial studies and if necessary, alternative ways to demonstrate knowledge.  In the one year that this UHS requirement has been in force, no student has failed to graduate.

Board member Gregg Lindner was alone in his vote to remove the exam.  Therefore the three Keystone tests (Biology, Algebra, English), required anyway as per Pennsylvania law, will still count towards graduation.

During the community member comments section, a Pennsbury township resident questioned a Philadelphia Inquirer article about the developing suspension policy.  It stated that only suspensions incurred this school year would be eligible for review.  Sanville stated that the article was incorrect.  All current high school students could apply to have a single incident removed from their official record, should this policy change be approved.  The policy language is being created and could be voted on in March.

A Pocopson resident of Native American descent commented on the discussions surrounding the high school Indians mascot.  He indicated that a conversation is fine, but more important is to learn about the history and rich Native American culture, and how deplorable reservation health care conditions currently are.

Next Up:  Curriculum/Educational Technology Meeting on Monday, February 12th at 4:30, and then the Work Session at 7:30.  Both meetings take place in room 14 at the District Office, adjacent to the High School.

All board meetings are open to the public.  They are broadcast live (and archived) on the UCFSD web site.

Board documents related to the work session:  http://www.boarddocs.com/pa/uncf/Board.nsf/public

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