Boone School Board to proceed with Birdsboro Elementary closure hearing

The Birdsboro Elementary Center is slated to close in 2018 under the Daniel Boone School District’s Elementary School Reconfiguration Plan.

Daniel Boone School Board members unanimously approved on March 27 Phase Two of the district’s Elementary School Reconfiguration Plan.

The Birdsboro Elementary Proposed Closure Hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. at the district’s offices, the site of the former Amity Primary Center, 2144 Weavertown Road in Douglassville.

Phase 2 would involve moving first grade out of Amity Elementary Center and into Monocacy Elementary Center, as well as moving fourth grade out of Birdsboro Elementary Center and into Amity Elementary Center for the 2017-18 school year.

Phase 1 occurred in September, when all kindergarten was moved to Monocacy Elementary Center, and third grade was moved from Birdsboro Elementary Center to Amity Elementary Center.

Following approval of closing Birdsboro Elementary Center on April 6, Phase 3 would occur for the 2018-19 school year, when Birdsboro Elementary Center’s fifth grade students would be located at Amity Elementary Center.

“I strongly oppose #7 (the motion to approve the resolution to implement Phase 2),” said Birdsboro Borough Manager Aaron Durso, prior to the board’s vote, and making his last request to the board to not implement Phase Two.

Superintendent James P. Harris said the educational benefits of having kindergarten through second grade students in MEC, and third through fifth graders in Amity Elementary Center in 2018-19, will be in realigning academic resources per grade.

Board President Michael D. Wolfe said the academic reality is that students educated at Birdsboro Elementary Center have been “considerably behind their peers.”

“If I had an unlimited budget — and money was not an issue — I would recommend class sizes of 15 students with additional aides,” said Wolfe.

“But now, if equaling the playing field for these students is the best option for them …”

Birdsboro Council Vice President Cindy McGee asked if a Birdsboro Elementary Center’s academic score would improve upon being taught at Amity Elementary Center, or would “her score be diluted by other high scores” at Amity Elementary Center?

“Until two years ago, Birdsboro Elementary Center was the highest performing school,” said McGee.

“Are we tracking that one student to be sure they are improving?”

Mary Beth Kiesel, acting principal at Birdsboro Elementary Center, confirmed that in 2013-14, Birdsboro Elementary Center’s kindergarten through fifth grade score was 80.1.

This year’s score for Amity Elementary Center is 79.6, Birdsboro Elementary Center is 60.7, and Monocacy Elementary Center is 67.8.

The board unanimously approved the One-to-One IPad Initiative.

District administration will purchase 70 Apple iPads for the high school’s teachers, at an estimated cost of $28,280, including training and preliminary materials.

The district’s plan is to purchase Apple iPads for high school students for the 2018-19 school year.

Harris said in February that a two-year roll-out would provide teachers and staff one full year of training and use before students receive them the following year.

Board members voted 4-5, opposing the 2017-18 School Event Calendar with eight, two-hour delay days for the One-to-One Initiative Training.

The calendar also included starting the 2017-18 school year in August, instead of after Labor Day in September.

Board members unanimously approved the Lockbox Servicing Agreement with Tompkins VIST Bank for tax collection services, as recommended by the Finance Committee and solicitor.

That is effective July 1.Board Recording Secretary Kathleen Haines said the approval authorizes the district to end its agreement with BB&T Bank (formerly National Penn Bank), as of June 30.

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