Former city administrator returns as William Penn assistant principal

There’s a familiar face back in York City schools.

Brandon Hufnagel was an assistant superintendent when he left the York City School District in 2011 to become superintendent of the Warren County School District. He resigned there in early 2013, and just this week, he was appointed acting assistant principal at William Penn Senior High School.

The Warren Times Observer reported in February 2013 that Hufnagel resigned there, citing a need to return to the York area to be with his family.

A month later, the paper reported that shortly before he left, Hufnagel mistakenly used his district credit card for $5,875 in charges at a casino. The story said he repaid the money once the mistake was discovered, and the school board there said he wasn’t forced to leave.

Hufnagel declined to comment on that. He still does consulting work for the Warren County School District, he said, and left on good terms.

He said he does not have a district credit card in York.

He loves being back in the city district, he said, adding that while in Warren County he sometimes helped teachers or principals here.

“I never really left York,” he said.

Supt. Eric Holmes confirmed Hufnagel is working at the high school but declined to comment on anything personnel-related.

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York City schedules meetings with charter operators

The York City School District has three public meetings scheduled with charter operators interested in taking over district schools starting next year, an option being considered by the school board.

On Tuesday, a meeting will be held with Charter Schools USA. On Wednesday, the Community Education Council meeting will include presentations with both Charter Schools USA and Mosaica Education.

On Thursday, a meeting will be held with Mosaica Education.

All of the meetings are at 6:30 p.m. at Hannah Penn K-8 School, 415 E. Boundary Ave., York. There will be time for questions from the public at all of the meetings.


Read about charter operators’ experience with turnaround

Crowd urges “say no” to charter operators

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ALS ice bucket challenge hits York County schools

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Corbett wants review of state standards; Rep. Grove expresses frustration

Gov. Tom Corbett announced Monday that he wants continued review of the state’s academic standards in order to “ensure that any final influence of the national Common Core State Standards is eradicated from Pennsylvania.”

A news release from the state education department says Corbett wants “continued public review” of the state’s academic standards. The release says it’s “the final phase in his nearly three-year effort to permanently roll back the national Common Core plan implemented by his predecessor, Gov. Ed Rendell.”

Corbett says in the release that Common Core has become “nothing more than a top-down takeover of the education system” and calls it “Obamacare for education.”

The release says he will send acting education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq to the state Board of Education to ask for immediate statewide hearings to continue to review improvements in the standards.

Last year, the state House of Representatives held hearings to address concerns over the state’s academic standards, which became known as the Pennsylvania Core Standards. At the time, officials said the state had adopted the Common Core and later added to those standards to make them Pennsylvania-specific.

Some expressed confusion at the announcement.




State Reps. Seth Grove (R-Dover Township) and Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) issued a statement Monday afternoon saying as “strong advocates” for the standards put in place, they were puzzled and frustrated by the governor’s announcement.

We are extremely disappointed the Corbett administration is considering reversing its own policy and opting to further convolute public understanding of our statewide academic standards. As a result, we have lost total confidence in this administration’s ability to manage implementation of these state-specific academic standards,” the statement says.

The legislators’ news release says they will ask for House hearings on the subject. In a letter sent to House Education Committee Chair Paul Clymer, they suggest the governor’s actions have political motives.

Read the state’s news release here.

Read the legislators’ news release and letters they sent to Corbett and Clymer here.

Many schools have been working for years to adjust their curriculum to meet the new standards.

Read here about how some local teachers said they’ve been changing their classrooms.

From the Morning Call: Is Corbett doing an about-face on Common Core?

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Did a charter operator submit an Allentown proposal in York?

I’m sorting through all of the questions that community members asked of the seven charter operators that expressed an interest in taking over one or more York City schools one day.

And it looks like someone was wondering the same thing I was, about the proposal that came from Executive Education Schools.

Did the operator submit its Allentown charter school application after using “find and replace” to change every Allentown reference to York?

Executive Education Schools just opened its first charter school in Allentown. In its York proposal, there are some references to the “York School District” followed by the abbreviation “ASD.” There are references to people from York that are incorrect. (The proposal noted former state Rep. Jennifer Mann being elected to serve her hometown of York, when she was a representative for her hometown of Allentown.)

So, a community member asked Executive Education Schools why they used the same application and just changed the references using Microsoft Word.

“Our model has had proven success in urban areas and various academic settings. We apologize for the oversight on the WORD errors,” the operator responded.


Executive Education Summary (Text)

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‘Baby Got Class’ video celebrates start of school

Parents, are you secretly celebrating the return of your kids to school?

Well, here’s a family so happy they’re rapping about it.

The Holderness family is known on the Internet for a “Xmas Jammies” video that I somehow missed but 14 million other people watched. And now they’re back, with “Baby Got Class,” set to the tune of the Sir Mix A Lot song.

My fave part: “Make it! Make it! Make that healthy lunch!”

It’s pretty fun.

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Welcome back for 2014-15

Well, summer’s pretty much over.

First graders Tessa Rishel, left, and Kaylyn Rosengrant, both 6, hold hands as they arrive on the first day of school at Conewago Elementary School Tuesday. (Photo by Kate Penn)

First graders Tessa Rishel, left, and Kaylyn Rosengrant, both 6, hold hands as they arrive on the first day of school at Conewago Elementary School Tuesday. (Photo by Kate Penn)

School buses began rolling this week, and students are heading back to their classrooms around York County. (A few districts don’t have to return until next week.)

As your kids head back to school, be sure to share any photos you take in our online gallery!

Find back-to-school information, including what’s new in your districts, here.

As always, feel free to get in touch with news from your districts. You can reach me at

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What’s your back-to-school spending look like?

(file photo)

(file photo)

The National Retail Federation has released its back-to-school survey and – suprise! – people are expected to spend more this year on supplies, clothing and electronics.

Here’s a quick look at some of the results:

  • Average family with K-12 kids will spend $669.28 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics, up from $634.78 last year.
  • Shoppers will spend about $212.35 on electronics – an increase from just under $200 last year.
  • School supply spending will increase about 12 percent, while clothing spending remains about the same.

Check out the full details here, and see what you think.

Is there something at the top of your back-to-school shopping list? Anything unusual your schools ask you to purchase? Post in the comments and let me know.

Also of interest:

Project Big Love offers school supplies and more on Saturday

U-Stor-It is collecting school supplies


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Wagner ad criticizes teachers’ union

In full-page ads in our newspaper, state Sen. Scott Wagner has said that public sector unions are the No. 1 reason “why nothing gets done in Harrisburg” and singles out the Pennsylvania State Education Association as the most powerful among the unions.

He criticized the teachers’ union for sending out an email “claiming victory over the defeat” of measures like Rep. Mike Tobash’s pension reform bill.

The ad includes an email blast from the teachers’ union, which says pension experts said the bill would not save much money but would make drastic cuts to retirement benefits for younger employees. The email credits teachers for contacting their lawmakers to tell them the bill doesn’t address the “real problem.”

Wagner says the email is a “slap in the face for every taxpayer” and criticizes unions for using “dues for politics.”

We’ve received one letter from a reader who disagrees with Wagner.

You can see the ad below (click the square with four arrows to make the document larger). What do you think?


Wagner ad (Text)

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York College president joins students on trip abroad

York College President Pamela Gunter-Smith and  David Fyfe, assistant professor of geography, in Cambodia. (Submitted)

York College President Pamela Gunter-Smith and David Fyfe, assistant professor of geography, in Cambodia. (Submitted)

York College’s president – who has now been on the job a year, so I can’t call her “new” anymore – has a Facebook page, where you can typically see photos of her out and about on campus or attending sporting events.

But in recent weeks, the page offered a chance to see Pamela Gunter-Smith off campus – way off campus.

Gunter-Smith went to Cambodia and Vietnam with David Fyfe’s Cultures and Environments Field Series class.

York College President Pamela Gunter-Smith and her husband ride an elephant in Cambodia. (Submitted)

York College President Pamela Gunter-Smith and her husband ride an elephant in Cambodia. (Submitted)

The geography class is offered every summer and Fyfe has taken students to Peru, Egypt, China, Turkey, Greece and other destinations, he said in an email. Faculty and staff are invited, too.

Students focus on the cultural or physical geographies of the region they are visiting, and Fyfe incorporates some readings on tourism. The students write research papers connected to their  majors and some reflective essays when they return.

This summer, students visited “several places throughout Vietnam, from Saigon in the south where we visited the Cu Chi Tunnels, to Huay and Hoi An and DaNang in the central part of Vietnam where the demilitarized zone is located as well as the former US air base at China Beach and the UNESCO world heritage site of Hoi An,” Fyfe wrote. “We then went to the north of Vietnam to Hanoi and Halong Bay (another world heritage site) and then spent three days in Mai Chau, a rural village in the mountains west of Hanoi. We finished the trip by flying into Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat before flying home.”

York College students and staff wrote camels during a stop in Dubai. (Submitted)

York College students and staff rode camels during a stop in Dubai. (Submitted)

An airline change allowed them a day in Dubai, too.

“Spartans on elephants in Cambodia,” Gunter-Smith wrote when she posted photos from Cambodia. “What’s next? Spartans on camels in Dubai? Maybe.”

Check out Gunter-Smith’s Facebook page here.

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