BROOKVILLE — The Brookville Area School Board received an encouraging report last week from board member Fred Park. “I had the opportunity to go to the football banquet,” he said. “They honored the academics, and I really applaud that we can make that connection. Two-thirds of the varsity football players have a 90 percent or better grade average, and I just think that’s commendable.” He also noted that there are no BAHS athletes currently on the ineligible list due to low grades.

“Athletics, the arts and academics do go together, they really do,” he said. Earlier in the meeting he had commended the students and faculty who participated in this year’s musical. “I have attended 47 of the 50 years,” he said. “They have been an excellent experience for our students, all 50 of those years.”

Principal Ruthanne Barbazzeni said she contributes “a lot of that to Dr. Park, because he has been a key component in providing opportunities for students after school, between the time of practice and school. He gives them a place to go that is supervised and structured so they can work on academics and get some extra support and help. He volunteered his time throughout the whole fall event, and I have to commend Dr. Park for being so dedicated.”

Park’s comments were a follow-up to a report given by Assistant Superintendent Brigette Matson, highlighting the recent academic performance scores for the district, measuring both achievement and growth.

The data presented was for the 2016-2017 school year. The building level score for Hickory Grove was 75.6 and for the high school, 63.1.

The Hickory Grove report included third through sixth-grade PSSA scores for English language arts (ELA) and math, and science in fourth grade. The scores were 53 percent for math, 67 percent for ELA and 89 percent for science. Also reported was the third-grade ELA score. “This was at 71 percent, up from 63 percent,” she said. “I want to highlight that because the teachers at that grade level worked hard on their writing instruction.”

On the high school level scores were 46 percent for mathematics/algebra I, 60 percent for ELA and 51 percent for science and biology.

Matson said a lot of factors go into determining the scores. “There is a baseline year, 2015, which looks at the number of students who were proficient or advanced. The baseline year was the first year that the test was given with the new set of standards, and any shifts in curriculum we’ve made in the last three years wouldn’t show on this report.”

Also included in the report is the group of students considered to be underperforming groups. According to report criteria, these are the students who are “identified to be economically disadvantaged, English language learners or students in need of special education. It doesn’t mean these students did under perform,” Matson said, “just that they are groups that they look at specifically.”

Although the overall scores might appear to be low, “we are well above the state levels in math,” she said. “These scores are moving in the right direction. As far as Hickory Grove moving forward, we really see our highest need to be how to grow all students, including our advanced students. It really comes down to depth of knowledge. Are our students able to synthesize information, evaluate, analyze, think critically, problem solve? We are trying to move more in that direction. But we have a lot to be proud of.”

Before the business session began, two members of the audience addressed the board.

Clarinda Darr of Brookville spoke briefly about Christmas activities to be held downtown. She also voiced concerns about the National Junior Honor Society. “I was a sponsor, I was a member in seventh grade,” she said. When she left five years ago, “there were 535 National Junior Honor Societies in the United States. They were declining because there are some people who are not seeing the virtue, the diligence and the stalworth leadership it takes to continue such an organization. The National Junior Honor Society is not a club; it is a society, a fraternity to which you are invited to attend. You are vetted and you are invited to attend. A club, on the other hand, to me means you can go if you want to, and I’m not exactly sure what the standards are. I am sure what the qualifications for National Junior Honor Society are. Stand tall, be proud and let’s see if we can’t keep this wonderful fraternal organization in Brookville.”

Bus contractor Jane Yale of Brockway asked the board to give her business a larger percentage of the contracts for activity trips. She said she currently receives about 25 percent of the contracts. She has been a contractor with the district for eight years, currently having nine buses and 12 drivers. “I know we can handle more trips,” she said.

During the meeting the board took care of a lot of housekeeping chores, including several personnel matters.

Gloria Powell was hired as a day-to-day substitute child(ren) specific aide. On January 2 she will be employed as a child(ren) specific aide at a rate of $11.75/hour, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Shela Shields.

The board also hired Victor Johnson as a part-time custodian at a rate of $10.50/hour. He fills the vacancy created by the transfer of David Shaffer.

It was reported that two elementary teachers have obtained lon-term substitute status. Approved were Marcie Plyler and Charles Turnbull.

The board accepted the resignation of Brooke Hanes, child(ren) specific aide, effective November 21. She resigned for personal reasons, but asked to remain on the substitute list.

The board also approved a five-year compensation agreement, ending June 30, 2022, for the business administrator, and maternity leave for elementary teacher Cortney McQuown, beginning around March 9.

A supplemental contract for $1,210.74 (pro-rated) was approved for Jessi Smith, who will replace Brianne Deitrich as assistant volleyball coach.

Approved as volunteers for the wrestling program were Martin Smith, Josh Keihl, Doug Zimmerman, Billy Blake, Roland Reitz and Louis Kunselman. Sara Haines was approved as a basketball volunteer.

The board acknowledged several gifts and donations which have been made to the district.

Making donations for the school musical were Miller Welding, $150 for the cast party; Brookville Equipment, $100; and Matson Lumber Company, $100.

Other donations included a $10 Z-card from Sheetz to be used as a Teen Read Week prize; MegaRock, $100 for a bus to take students to the football playoff game; Brookville Chamber of Commerce, $150 for transportation of students downtown to paint windows; and Raider Scholastic Foundation, $4,200 for a sound board and microphones in the auditorium.

The board approved a LERTA application from Kimberly Lucas, who is rebuilding the Farmers Inn restaurant in Sigel at an estimated cost of $650,000.

The board also approved the new list of occupation tax exonerations. Business administrator Ellen Neyman reported that the list of people denied exemption included many who had submitted incomplete forms. She said they will have an opportunity to complete the form and resubmit it.

The next meeting of the Brookville Area School Board will be its annual reorganization meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, December 4 in the LGI room at Hickory Grove. A regular meeting will follow.

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