The Elk Lake School District has eliminated its “one size fits all” model for evaluating teachers, according to Superintendent Ken Cuomo.
During an Elk Lake School Board meeting on Feb. 19, Cuomo explained how the current evaluation model does not take differences between teachers into account, such as years of experience or areas of expertise.
“We think there’s a better way to do it,” he said. “We’re presenting a differentiated supervision model where teachers will go through one of three different modes of supervision.”
This includes the “formal observation mode,” where teachers are evaluated in the four domains of the Danielson Framework for Teaching: planning/preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities.
The Danielson Framework is also involved with the current plan, Cuomo said.
Under the new plan adopted by the board, temporary professional employees will undergo this mode twice per year until granted tenure.
Tenured employees new to the district will participate in this mode during their first year, while all other professional employees will participate at least once every three years.
The “walk-through observation mode” involves administrators conducting a minimum of two walk-through observations per year, while the Daniel-based “SMART Goal Mode” has tenured employees make a “specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely” professional goal.
Categories include improvement, renewal and restructuring goals. Teachers could work individually or with a partner or team and must present their goal outcomes by May 1 each year.
The differentiated supervision model was also adopted for the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center.
“I think this opportunity to challenge teachers and to have them come forth with ideas dealing with instruction, curriculum and assessment is a better way,” Cuomo said.
Board members Donica McGee and Anne Teel were absent for the Feb. 19 meeting.
The board also passed a resolution calling for funding reform with Pennsylvania charter schools.
Cuomo agreed with Gov. Tom Wolf’s recent statement that Pennsylvania’s charter school law is “the worst in the nation,” adding that it’s “breaking the backs” of school districts and taxpayers.
These schools have also been doing a disservice to students by not providing quality education, he said.
“It’s educational malpractice as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
In the 2017-18 school year, total charter school tuition payments (including cyber schools) surpassed $1.8 billion, with $519 million coming from school districts like Elk Lake, Cuomo read from the resolution.
Also, in the 2014-15 school year, districts paid more than $100 million for special education services in excess of what charter schools actually reported spending, he added.
“There is no brick and mortar school that could operate legally that way in the state of Pennsylvania,” he said.
Now that the resolution has been passed, the board plans to forward it to its legislators.
The school district has started its own cyber program, the Elk Lake Warrior Academy, in hopes of bringing students back from third party cyber charter platforms. Eighteen students are currently enrolled in the academy.
Cuomo also presented the proposed school calendar for the 2020-21 school year, though the board won’t vote on it until at least next month.
He pointed out two items, including the Monday after Thanksgiving being a full day of school due to the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s hunting season changes, and the day before Christmas Eve being an early dismissal.
The board also voted to begin the bidding process for a summer project to replace the pool’s filter. The district received one quote for $85,000 and has been waiting on another one, Cuomo said.
The board also approved the following on Feb. 19:
*Board member Tyler Emmerich as the Pennsylvania Schools Board Association liaison.
*The resignations of Jenny Grosvenor and Ruth Ann Ofalt from the track and field program.
*Activity positions: Tony Rezykowski (varsity baseball, $3,832.03), John Pierson (varsity baseball assistant, $1,677.12), James Phillips (junior varsity baseball assistant, $1,677.12), Travis Caines (junior high baseball assistant, $1,677.12), Melanie Transue (spring art director, $513.16), Mark Fenton (sound and lighting advisor, $270.50), Mike Murphy (varsity softball assistant, $4,234.48), Lauren Shovlin (varsity track assistant, $1,677.12), Jessica Sekely-Constable (varsity track assistant, $2,540.55), Leanna Bell (junior high track assistant, $1,677.12), Katie Bennett (junior high track assistant, $1,677.12), Robert Gagliardi (varsity wrestling, $5,189.14), and James Phillips ($4,699.60 , varsity swimming assistant).
*Activity volunteers, pending receipt of clearances: Kelsey Mitchell (junior high softball), Scott McAleer (junior varsity baseball), and Barry Brown (spring drama).
*A sixth grade field trip to Gettysburg, with the district contributing $3,760.
*An occupational therapy services agreement with Donna M. Brink, Tier Occupational Therapy Services, for the 2020-21 school year.
*Amanda Cokely as a temporary full-time special education one-on-one paraeducator at $10.60 per hour.
*Yvonne Henry as a temporary part-time paraeducator at $10.60 per hour.
*The Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit 19 budget (July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021), with Elk Lake contributing $15,657.30.
*Substitute additions for the 2019-20 school year: Brandy Teel (secondary paraeducator), Tara Bushnell (non-CDL driver), Jennifer Miner (maintenance) and Sherry Janoski (emergency certification).
*Summer/Christmas workers: Dan McGee, Alex Bradish, Kyle Bradish, George Sobeck, Jayden Baker, Travis Tewksbury, Cam Welsh, Kobe Jayne, Griffin Kasson (returning students); Jeryn DeLong (new); John Tyler and Brandon Way (waiting list/new students).
The ELSB has another meeting scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m.