U-CF School Board examines dropping class ranking reports
● By J. Chambless
By John Chambless
The issue of whether or not to report a student's class rank to prospective colleges has been studied extensively by the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, and at their Jan. 11 work session, the School Board heard from some students on the matter.
A proposed policy change will be examined at the board's Jan. 25 meeting. Board president Victor Dupuis explained to the students in the audience at the meeting that, “When you apply for college, we give the school your GPA, but we also tell them if you're in the top 10 percent, the next 10 percent, and so on, of your class.”
Dupuis asked to input from the students on whether eliminating the class rank is a good idea, and heard responses on either side of the issue. One senior in the audience said, “I'm only in the top 50 or 60 percentile of my grade, and for a college that's maybe out of state that I'm applying to, that might make me look bad.”
Another senior said, “I only had one school that I had to give my decile ranking to, but when colleges see we're coming from a school like this and how hard we work, maybe if they see the decile ranking, it might be the deciding factor.”
Board member Carolyn Daniels told the students that, “If the ranking is is presented by the high school, it is used by colleges; but if it is not presented, it actually isn't held against you. They just look at everything else that you're submitting.”
Assistant superintendent Ken Batchelor added, “Many colleges shared with us that this is not the major piece in the application process. They look at the total application.”
If the policy change is approved, Dupuis said, “We would go from reporting a decile ranking to not reporting a class rank of any kind.”
The ongoing construction at Patton Middle School was discussed by Rick Hostetler, the supervisor of buildings and grounds. “The original date for completion of the Patton office and guidance area was Dec. 18,” he said. “We have been delayed, but we should be ready to check off punch list items by the last week of January or the first week of February for a move-in. The goal is to get everything finished properly.”
The renovation of Patton's auditorium is coming up as the next part of the district's 10-year plan, and Hostetler said, “We are working on a design that's about 75 percent complete. We plan to go out to bid on Feb. 2, get bids back by March 3, and then come before the board at the March work session to review the bids. Assuming the project does come in on budget, we are looking to begin exterior work in May, and then do the inside work over the summer.”
The renovations will include new seating, stage and audience lighting, flooring, and sound equipment, as well as a renovated lobby and entrance area.
Daniels also announced that the board would be voting next week on a concurrent enrollment agreement with West Chester University that would allow Unionville High School students to take classes at the university that are not offered as part of the regular high school curriculum.
The board will vote on the district's preliminary budget at their Jan. 25 meeting, and Robert Cochran, the director of business and operations, explained that, “The bottom line is to reflect to the state the district's expected budget situation, given that the Governor hasn't even settled last year's budget, let alone proposed the 2016-17 budget, which he will do in early February. In order to apply to the Department of Education for exceptions to the Act One Index, this budget means to reflect a need for those exceptions to the index. It has been the practice of the district to apply for them as much as available, so that the board has the flexibility right through the entire budget process in the spring to utilize the exceptions, or not.
“What the budget reflects is approximately a $950,000 use of fund balance, and utilizing about $1 million use of exceptions. That gives us an average of about a 4 percent millage impact,” Cochran said. “This in no way locks this board into using these exceptions or raising taxes to that level -- that's just the maximum that you could raise them to.”
Dupuis added, “All we're really doing is taking a referendum off the table with this budget, at this point.”
Board member Jeff Hellrung clarified that, “We'll have to reduce our spending by about $1 million to at least stay within the Act One Index.” Cochran agreed, saying, “We would have to reduce the number by about $950,000 to keep it within the Act One Index plus exceptions, and not use any fund balance.
There will have to be some combination of program reductions or decisions to use fund balance.”
District superintendent John Sanville said, “We'll have discussions in February, March and April, then in a real way in May during budget hearings, so the board can consider a number of options wrapped around what tax rates mean to our program. This year we're looking at changes in the program.”
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