Ephrata school district scorecard shows growth

By on December 9, 2015

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There is growing data to show that students attending Ephrata Area School District are more likely to succeed. Some of that new data was shared with members of the school board Monday night at its regular meeting held at Highland Elementary School.

District Superintendent Dr. Brian Troop shared his E2 Scorecard from the 2014-15 school year, which looks at district wide student performance across several levels and then rates that against previous years. Broken down into seven “indicators” Troop explained the meaning of each of those indicators.

The first two indicators track student performance in achieving grade level performance in reading and math by the end of grade three. The third and fourth indicators rate student ability to maintain grade-level performance in math and reading by the end of sixth grade. Indicator five reports on how students apply appropriate math and reading skills in high school while indicator six measures how students demonstrate a year of growth for each year of instruction throughout the EASD system. The final indicator looks at students successful transition across the many levels of school programs within the district.

Troop explained that the data indicated growth across the board and that the ratings were also higher than in previous years.

“Due to the change in the reading curriculum resources and the state changing the PSSA this past year &tstr; it is difficult to compare some of the current E2 results from last year, however, these indicators do help us identify areas where we want to look more deeply and explore options for adjustment,” added Troop. “No E2 is ever a final ‘report card’ for our district’s journey &tstr; each is more like a progress report indicating how well we are moving.”

Further indication of EASD’s excellence was seen in a recent report in the Keeping Pace with K-12 Digital Learning Report. This is an annual review of policy and practice of schools offering a cyber school program. Troop noted the recognition the Ephrata Virtual Academy received for its innovative use of technology under program director Dan Mahlandt.

According to that report, “as a result of operating EVA, the school district has realized significant cost savings by retaining students (and associated state funding) in the district, who may have otherwise enrolled in cyber charter schools.”

In other school district news, the meeting marked the final meeting for school board member Kay Kurtz. After having served for eight years, Kurtz agreed to not seek a final term. Her term will conclude Dec. 7, having served on the Budget/Finance and Building/Property committees. Her husband, Don, was on hand for the meeting as a resolution from the Pennsylvania School Board Association was read honoring her years of service.

“I greatly appreciated having had the opportunity to work side-by-side with Kay,” said board President Tim Stayer. “I am grateful for her servitude to the Ephrata Area School District students and the school board. I wish her nothing but the best as she moves on to new adventures.”

Troop also wished Kurtz well.

“The responsibilities of being a member of a school board in the state of Pennsylvania are challenging and get more complex every year,” said Troop. “The strength of our board has led us through some turbulent waters over the past decade. The contributions of Mrs. Kay Kurtz during her eight year of service have been significant and greatly appreciated by the district. “

Others who had served with Kurtz offered words of appreciation.

“Kay always did her homework, twice, and came up with the questions,” said member Judy Beiler. “Obviously it took a lot of time.”

Glen R. Martin said, “I always appreciate all your hard work and that you were here for the best interest of the students and knew that was one of your focal points. I know you also worked hard to look out for the taxpayers.”

Board member Tim Stauffer added that he always appreciate Kurtz’s civility and kindness.

“I appreciated your analytical no nonsense passion for serving the board,” said board member Tech Kachel. “I enjoyed serving with you.”

For her part, Kurtz thanked the voters who had voted for her, adding, “I think the students are great!”

And finally, during open comments, Stayer shared some concerns with regard to the current budget impasse in Harrisburg, especially as it relates to school budgets across the state. In prepared comments he said he is concerned about the “back end” referendum regarding property taxes. In particular, he said these issues are of grave concern to the future of school districts to fund programs and remain solvent.

“Referendum is not school reform,” Stayer emphasized. “Referendum only treats the symptom of unpopular property taxes without treating the underlying causes of the problem. There are too many unfunded and underfunded mandates.”

Additionally, Stayer pointed out that costs are rapidly rising beyond the control of local school boards ability to raise revenue to pay for them. Among the costs rising the quickest include charter school tuition, PSERS, although Stayer emphatically pointed out that no one wants to take away the benefit but to adjust them so they are affordable and practical, and special education programs and services.

“Referendum would be devastating to local schools,” he added. “If districts cannot raise sufficient revenues, through taxes, the only tool we have, then the future will bring dramatic cuts to staff and programs, thus severely limiting the excellent educational opportunities now provided to students.”

Stayer called on state government to be more efficient and cost effective.

With current terms ending and new board terms beginning, a special re-organization meeting and meeting of the whole will be held Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. at the school district board room.

For additional information on Ephrata Area School Board, visit their website at easdpa.org. Gary P. Klinger welcomes your questions and feedback at klingerglobal@gmail.com.

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