By Steven Hoffman

Staff Writer

With a new school year underway, the Kennett School Board got its first look at actual enrollment figures for the 2013-14 school year at the meeting on Monday, Sept. 9. Overall, district enrollment is down by about one percent, declining from 4,254 students at this time last year to 4,204 students this year.

“This year, we had some growth in our kindergarten class,” said Superintendent Dr. Barry Tomasetti, explaining that there are 296 students in kindergarten this year, an increase of 21 students.

Kennett, like other school districts in the area, saw housing starts decline in the last five years after years of consistent residential growth. Consequently, the number of kindergarten students entering the district is less than the number of high school seniors graduating—so district-wide enrollment falls.

In addition to the 4,204 students enrolled in the district, there are also 77 students who have been placed out of the district and 187 students who are currently enrolled in charter schools.

In his report about the district’s facilities, board member Dominic Perigo said that it was a very busy summer for the maintenance department as they tackled numerous projects across the district. A significant portion of that work was focused on New Garden Elementary. Perigo said that the school needed new tile floors in many areas of the building. Classrooms were painted and repairs were made to the ceiling, where necessary.

“The overall interior appearance of New Garden Elementary has been significantly improved as a result of these projects,” Perigo said.

He also noted that the maintenance department and the technology department collaborated extensively over the summer. Perigo said that the technology department was able to wire and equip the STEM (Science Engineering Technology Math) classrooms.

The school board approved a revised version of a district-wide Collaborative Assessment Plan. The revisions were necessary to meet the standards of the new mandate regarding how teachers are evaluated. Tomasetti said that a committee of teachers and administrators developed the revised district-wide plan. Under the previous plan, teachers could elect to have administrative monitoring, while under the new plan the administrative team will monitor one-third of the teachers each year.

Teacher observations will focus on planning and preparation, the classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibilities. Final teacher effectiveness ratings will be based on teacher observations and building level ratings.

“I believe that there is a higher level of accountability in this plan,” said Tomasetti, explaining that this accountability is not just for teachers but administrators as well as they must consider how they are making decisions about the evaluations of the teachers.

Tomasetti said that Kennett’s Collaborative Assessment Plan is similar to other school districts’ plans.

“There might be some nuances from district to district, but every school district has been given the same assignment,” he said.

The board also approved the implementation plan for 2013-14 that relates to the district’s strategic plan that was approved and submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Each year since then the district has approved an implementation plan with specific strategies and activities that support the strategic plan. This is the sixth year for the current strategic plan.

Tomasetti said that the district has worked with local police departments and the Chester County Intermediate Unit on improving the security plan that is in effect for the school buildings.

The board concluded the meeting with a look ahead at upcoming events. The Bancroft Fall Festival is slated for Sat., Oct. 5, a Finance Committee meeting will take place on Mon., Oct. 7, the New Garden and Greenwood Fall Festivals take place on Sat., Oct. 12, and the school board will meet again at 7 p.m. on Mon., Oct. 14 at the Greenwood Elementary School.