Kennett school directors create new position

KENNETT SQUARE >> Amid an unusually technology-oriented agenda, the Kennett Area Consolidated School District created a new position Monday night: director of curriculum in math and science.

Then the members of the school board named Lydia Hallman, currently the math and science curriculum supervisor, to the new position.

Superintendent Barry Tomasetti said the promotion gave Hallman more responsibility for staff development as well as supervision of the curriculum in math and science. Other staff members had asked for more resources to help them in that area, Tomasetti said.

Other board members praised Hallman for her accomplishments so far, both in helping design the curriculum and in keeping students motivated.

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The board members also made Judy Durante the new curriculum supervisor of language arts and social studies.

Technology in the classroom also was a factor in Tomasetti’s report on the development of a new strategic plan for the district. He said one goal was to increase opportunities for students to learn STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, and math.

Other strategic goals Tomasetti mentioned included working toward increased parent engagement, since research shows engaged parents help their students achieve more.

The school system was also increasing learning opportunities in a variety of ways, including by having summer school programs for ESL and other students with transportation available, and by making laptop computers available to students who could not afford their own.

Finally, Tomasetti said, the district planned to increase flexibility for students’ learning. In the coming school year it would introduce an online course in introductory Latin, he said, so that students whose classroom schedules would not otherwise allow it could participate.

School Board President Kendra LaCosta said although the board and staff thought about the goals in various ways all year, it was “a nice cap to the year” to hear them listed as the board wound down one school year and looked forward to another.

The board adopted a policy change on professional development, and introduced proposed changes to policies on uncompensated leave, student welfare, benefits for part-time work, public participation in school board meetings, and immunizations.

LaCosta said the proposed policy change for public participation in school board meetings would make it easier for anyone who wished to comment. Instead of having to ask to speak before the board by the Friday before the second-Monday monthly board meetings, people would have until noon that Monday.

There would be a public comment period of up to 30 minutes at the beginning of the meeting, LaCosta said, with five minutes allowed for each speaker to address subjects on the agenda. The meeting would be open at the end for comments on other topics.

Tomasetti pointed out that while the proposed change made the formal speaking rules somewhat more liberal, in practice the board typically let people speak even if they had not formally requested to do so.

The board members discussed certain strengthened aspects of the required immunizations, according to state mandates. But they pointed out there are still exemptions for medical, moral, or religious reasons.

The board members also formally accepted the budget for the 2017–2018 school year.