Course selections cause concern

HEGINS – Tri-Valley School Board of Directors met early this month and had a heated discus- sion concerning curriculum.

During the committee of the whole meeting held March 9, at 6:30 p.m. Board Director Diane Dietrich, who is passionate about ensuring the students at Tri-Val- ley are able to have access to advanced placement (AP) courses led the discussion.

What sparked the discussion was action that was needed on the 2016-17 Tri-Valley High School Program of Studies Guide. A copy of the guide was distributed at the February meeting for the board to review and vote on in March.

Dietrich said the current AP courses offered are online courses with no actual instructors. She said students who are currently taking AP biology are really struggling and practically failing the course because it is near impossible to speak with the instructor who is based in Califor- nia. She said the cost of the course is very expensive and she would like to see more choices for stu- dents who wish to take AP cours- es. In her opinion, the biology AP

course is not working well for the district.

She referred to other neighbor- ing districts similar in size to Tri-Valley who offer their stu- dents more choices in AP courses.

“Why not remove the AP Biolo- gy course which isn’t working and offer it in house?” asked Dietrich. “It may be cost effective to offer it in house. Just like the AP calculus course, no one signed up for it this year so why not offer other math courses that could be added. The AP calculus might look good on the school performance profile, but no one is taking it.”

Superintendent Dr. Mark Sny- der said Dietrich’s statements weren’t all accurate. He said the AP psychology and AP English classes were being utilized.

“My concern for those courses are I was told they are not getting through all the material but are required to take tests,” said Diet- rich. “There is no instructor sup- port.”

Snyder said he would love to offer AP courses in house, but the district is limited with the num- ber of faculty on staff in order to offer AP courses in house.

“We are not criticizing teachers, we believe they can do the work here,” said Mark Dietrich, hus- band of Diane.

Dietrich also pointed out that she would like to see more elective courses offered to 10th grade stu- dents. She feels there should be more .25 credit courses offered.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Sny- der said there is no way to sched- ule more quarter credit electives. He said they have looked at it and it’s near impossible.

Dietrich would like to see more electives offered to ninth grade students too. She realizes there are required rotations, but she would like ninth grade students to have choices with electives.

“By ninth grade some students know what their interests are and they should be allowed to take oth- er courses that are offered,” said Dietrich.

Dietrich said she feels the course book shouldn’t just be handed out to the students and say here pick your courses.

“That is a lie,” said Dr. Snyder. “The guidance department meets with students and goes over the course selections and then meets with them again once they have made their selections.”

Dietrich apologized and said she wasn’t aware that guidance met with the students.

“I have confidence in Dr. Snyder that he is doing what is best for Tri-Valley,” said Board Director Roger Heidelbaugh. “It may not always be possible to offer every-

thing we would like to see, I too would love to see more offerings but I believe we are doing the best that we can at this time. I believe we need to have curriculum com- mittee meetings to consider all our options, but at this point I am fine with moving forward with the course selection booklet as it is.”

“I appreciate your feedback,” said Director Carl Shankweiler to Dietrich. “I have trouble with the need for AP courses. I went to col- lege with no credits going in and finished a trimester early. I wasn’t hurt by not going in with credits. I don’t see the idea of going in with credits as a necessity.”

The board and administration agreed they need to sit down and discuss all the facts and deter- mine what their options are mov- ing forward.

During the regular meeting of the board, Dietrich provided the only no vote against the 2016-17 program of studies guide.

In other business, the district has filled a vacancy on the school Board. The Rev. Curtis Zemencik has been appointed to fill the vacancy position in Hegins Town- ship East District – Region 1.

The school district will be sav- ing $116,000. The board adopted a parameters resolution from RBC Capital Markets. The refinancing of bonds on the latest construc- tion project will be a savings to the district.

The board voted to allow the administration to extend the pay- able date from March 31, to June 30, for the Tax and Revenue Antic- ipation Note, Series of 2015, in the amount of $5,000,000 from the Gratz Bank. The district had to establish a line of credit in order to keep the school open due to the state budget impasse.

Due to the closing of school on January 25, 26 and February 16, classes will be in session March 24, 29 and 30. In the event of addi- tional closures, the school year may be extended the required number of days in June.

The PSSA assessment testing will soon take place in the elemen- tary school.

English Language Arts for grades third and sixth will take place April 11-15; Math, April 18-22, for third and sixth grades and science, April 25-29 for fourth grade only.

“Parents can best prepare their children to take the PSSA tests by providing good nutritious food, insuring a good night sleep, and finally by telling their children to just relax and do their best,” said Gerald J. Anderson, elementary principal. “Please refrain from exerting too much pressure on your children to perform. This will only create anxiety and actu- ally reduce the children’s ability to perform. Relax and just do your best.”

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