Check out events for Catholic Schools Week

Catholic Schools Week is Jan. 24 to 30, and schools around York County will be among those celebrating with the theme of “Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”

Events begin Saturday, with a York Deanery Celebration Mass at 4 p.m. in the York Catholic Auditorium, celebrated by Rev. Ronald Gainer. That will be followed by the “Battle of the Buildings,” at 5:30 p.m. in the York Catholic gym. It’s a friendly competition among York Deanery school teachers doing “Minute to Win It”-style activities, and admission is a non-perishable food item for Catholic Harvest Food Pantry. York Mayor Kim Bracey is expected to attend.

Here’s a look at some of the other activities happening around the county.

York Catholic: Administrators are providing a special treat on Wednesday, which is Student Appreciation Day, and the home and school organization provides breakfast for faculty on Teacher Appreciation Day. A student talent show ends the week.

St. Joseph Catholic School, Dallastown: The school will host a Geography Bee for fourth through sixth grades. Children can dress down and play bingo on Student Appreciation Day, Tuesday, and a talent show will be held Thursday.

St. Patrick School, York: An open house will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Sunday, and a religion bee will be held Monday at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. On Tuesday, expect to see some mismatched clothes as a fundraiser for missions, and that afternoon, fifth- and sixth-grade students will complete a service project at Catholic Harvest Food Pantry. Younger students will work at the food pantry Wednesday.

St. Joseph School, Springettsbury Township: Other events include the Good News Games on Monday, when students will compete based on their knowledge of the Catholic faith, and Project Socks of LOVE on Wednesday, when students will be filling socks with basic necessities to donate to local charities. There’s a poster contest and open house events from 9 to 11 a.m . and 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, too.

St. Rose of Lima School, Thomasville: An open house will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, and the fifth- and sixth-grade STEM Fair will take place throughout the week. On Wednesday, fifth- and sixth-graders at St. Rose church and at Catholic Harvest. The students donated 1,200 cans of food and $650 this fall, so now they will see how the food pantry works. Someone will get to be Principal for a Day on Tuesday, and on Friday night, the school will hold a mini-THON to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund.


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A look at appeal issues York City might raise

What will the York City School District bring up as it appeals a judge’s appointment of a receiver?

We have a little bit better idea, from some documents filed in court today. Previously, the district was told by the court to file a “concise” summary of the errors the district plans to challenge.

We heard some of these matters in court. For example, the district says that the judge didn’t consider some facts the school district brought up, including that the charter school contract David Meckley had directed the board to approve was incomplete and might not even save the school district money, as is required by law.

Read the documents below. Keep up with all our York City schools coverage here.



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City teachers attending Wolf inauguration day breakfast

York City teacher Clovis Gallon will be among those attending a breakfast with Gov.-elect Tom Wolf on inauguration day.

Gallon said the VFW in Mount Wolf is hosting a breakfast where Wolf is expected to appear, and the past commander of the post – also a teacher at William Penn – invited Gallon to attend with him.

He might have a chance to shake Wolf’s hand or maybe talk to him for a minute, he said.

“I definitely want to ask him one or two questions,” Gallon said.

There are several other school connections, including that the Northeastern High School band will perform.

Click here to get caught up on Wolf’s inauguration details and the many York County connections

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Students urge parents to call about charter alternatives

Some William Penn Senior High School students are distributing fliers, urging parents who don’t want their child to attend a charter school to let the state education department and chief recovery officer David Meckley know.

Ashlee DeSantis was handing out this flier at a schools meeting this week.

Ashlee DeSantis was handing out this flier at a schools meeting this week. (Click to see the flier bigger.)

Ashlee DeSantis, a student who has been leading a group called the Student Union in protesting proposed all-charter plans, had bright orange fliers in hand Wednesday at a York City Community Education Council meeting.

“Do you want your child in a charter school next year?” the top of the flier reads. The flier urges parents answering no to call provided numbers for the state and Meckley or to sign an online petition.

DeSantis said students just felt this would be the best way to get the word out.

“A lot of parents don’t know what’s going on,” she said.

If the York City School District were to move for an all-charter system, the state requires an alternate public option for parents who don’t want students to attend a charter school.

Posted in Angie Mason, Charter schools, York City School District | 3 Comments

State website includes more district financial info

You can now find more school district financial information on the same website you find school academic scores.

Today, state Rep. Jim Christiana, who was behind the SchoolWATCH proposal, announced that the additional information can be found on the PA School Performance Profile website.

If you go to the website and find the district you want, click the “view district information” button in the middle of the screen. The next page has a “view fiscal information” button in the top right corner.

You’ll see expenses broken down into a few categories, charter school tuition rates, average teacher salary, and links to other information such as a spreadsheet of all employee salaries as of 2012-13.

Read more about the information in this WITF story.

Side note: You could get to some of this information before (for example, we’ve requested salary information before and gotten it, turning it into our own database) but this certainly makes it easier if you are interested in a particular district.

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Hershey Story contest recognizes young writers

Entries are being accepted until Feb. 15 for the “History Contest for Young Writers,” sponsored by the The Hershey Story, the Museum on Chocolate Avenue, according to a news release.

The contest is open to students in grades five through eight in York, Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon or Perry counties, the release says. Categories are nonfiction, fiction, poetry or science/health.

First place winners will receive $100, a family membership to The Hershey Story and a plaque. Second place and honorable mention will also be recognized. Details are available on the museum’s website under the education tab.

Winners will be notified by April 2, the release says, and the first-place winners will be recognized at the museum’s Business Partners in Education Breakfast on April 17.

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West Shore selling 12 used buses

The start of this email from the West Shore School District gave me a giggle.

“Are you interested in buying a bus or do you know someone who is?”

West Shore has 12 used, diesel engine buses for sale. If you are in the market,  contact Tony McNaughton, transportation coordinator, at 938-2295, between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, the email from district spokesman Ryan Argot says.

Here are the specifics:

One 36 Passenger Bus – 1998 Ford, 331,513 miles, engine runs
One 72 Passenger Bus – 1990 Ford, 308,996 miles, engine does not run
Ten 78 Passenger Buses
– 1992 Bluebird, 194,204 miles, engine runs
– 1992 Bluebird, 199,612 miles, engine runs
– 1992 Bluebird, 220,287 miles, engine does not run
– 1994 Bluebird, 198,918 miles, engine runs
– 1994 Bluebird, 217,583 miles, engine does not run
– 1994 Bluebird, 244,770 miles, engine does not run
– 1993 Thomas, 274,528 miles, engine runs
– 1993 Thomas, 278,849 miles, engine runs
– 1996 Thomas, 214,127 miles, engine runs
– 1996 Thomas, 251,670 miles, engine runs

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Looking back on 2014 York County education news

As 2014 comes to a close, it’s time to look back on the biggest education stories to hit York County.

Margie Orr watches a rally outside a York City schools meeting. (Jeff Lautenberger photo)

Margie Orr watches a rally outside a York City schools meeting. (Jeff Lautenberger photo)

York City schools: So much has happened in one year, and yet, there’s so much we still don’t know.

The possibility that district schools will be converted to charters operated by an outside company grew closer to reality in 2014. The school board put out a request for proposals seeking operators to run district buildings, and those companies began making appearances in the district – usually accompanied by protests.

In October, the school board rejected a proposal to have a few buildings operated by a charter company. Recovery officer David Meckley then directed the board to approve an agreement to turn all schools in to charters, operated by Charter Schools USA. The board tabled that action in November, leading the state to request Meckley be named receiver – a request the court granted.

But the decision drew almost immediate appeals. As 2014 comes to an end, it’s still uncertain what comes nextNeed to catch up? Check out this timeline going back to 2012, which we’ve been updating with stories for several months.

(File photo)

(File photo)

New Hope Academy: The city also saw the end of a charter school in 2014. New Hope Academy fought through Commonwealth Court to remain open, but in the end, lost a bid to have its charter renewedIts final class of graduates said farewell in June, and the school then auctioned everything from the desks to the Mighty Ant mascot costume.

The management company that operated the school fronted a new private school to try to accommodate some of New Hope’s students. But hundreds returned to the York City School District, which reopened a school in part to accommodate them. New Hope has since been wrapping up its finances, and a lawsuit filed by parents of students is still making its way through federal court.

Washington Township: Miles north of the city, a debate has heated up over whether the township with about 300 students should be switched from the Dover Area School District to the Northern York County School District. Over the summer, the state education department found, in reviewing a petition from the Washington Township Education Coalition, that the move would have educational merit. But in recent months, parents who don’t want their children to switch districts have been vocal in opposition, and the Northern York district has contemplated what the move would mean there.

A student solves a math problem at Orendorf Elementary School. (File photo)

A student solves a math problem at Orendorf Elementary School. Changes to state educational standards have caused changes in the classroom. (File photo)

Several parties asked the state board to hold hearings on the matter, so it’s another issue that will stretch into 2015.

Common Core: New educational standards continued to draw headlines in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in 2014. In York County, several classroom teachers invited me in to see how they are changing their practices to meet the new standards. Around September, Gov. Tom Corbett called for continuing review of the already-adopted and much-debated standards, and everyone was pretty confused about it. (There’s still time to review and weigh in, if you want to do that.)

Snow days: Why would I include snow days? There were a lot of them.

Really, a lot.

(File photo)

A York County Parks truck dumps snow cleared from the York County Judicial Center at Small Field. (File photo)

Actually, some of them weren’t even really “snow” days, but rather really, really cold days. Mother Nature snatched districts’ planned make-up days, dented holiday breaks and threatened to mess with graduations as districts worked to provide the required days/hours of school.

Months after the extraordinary amount of cancellations in many districts, the state education department to announce plans for a flexible program that could allow districts to use online or other programs to keep kids learning even when snow keeps them at home – but districts would have a lot of work to make it happen.

 What are your hopes for schools in 2015?

Posted in Angie Mason, Charter schools, Common Core, Dover Area School District, New Hope Academy, Northern York County School District, Public schools, York City School District | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dallastown’s science fair scheduled for January

More than 300 student projects are registered for the 55th annual Dallastown Area High School Science and Engineering Fair, which will be held Jan. 23-25.

Projects will be judged by a team of more than 30 volunteers, who are scientists and engineers, according to a news release.

The projects will be displayed in the high school science classrooms, and the fair is open to the public from 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 24. and from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 25.

An awards program will be held in the high school auditorium at 3 p.m. Jan. 25. In addition to ribbon place awards, special cash awards will be given by individuals and local businesses, the news release says.

Contact Mark Ilyes at Dallastown High School at 244-4021 x3215 or for more information.

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Who’s behind the York Community Foundation Charter School?

Some York City students attended last night's meeting to oppose turning schools over to a charter operator.

Some York City students attended last night’s meeting to oppose turning schools over to a charter operator.

Update: Comments from Charter Schools USA and Margie Orr have been added at the bottom of this post.

At last night’s York City School Board meeting, questions came up surrounding a nonprofit entity that would be the charter holder if the school district’s buildings were turned into charter schools run by Charter Schools USA.

Charter schools in Pennsylvania have to be nonprofits. (They can then contract with other companies, which can be for-profit.)

What do we know about the nonprofit board?

On Sunday I reported that recovery officer David Meckley said there was a nonprofit corporation, called York Community Foundation Charter School, established with three inaugural board members: president Carl Anderson, Jody Keller, secretary, and Ernie Waters, treasurer. Meckley said last night that the entity is incorporated.

On Friday, I spoke to Anderson, of West Manchester Township, who said representatives of Charter Schools USA reached out to him and others looking for community members who might serve on a nonprofit board. He also said he was on the York County Community Foundation’s board and a member of YorkCounts, which was behind the initial all-charter idea.

Anderson told me those three individuals were the only ones affiliated with the nonprofit.

Meckley said the three inaugural members would select additional board members as bylaws are prepared.

What’s the York County Community Foundation’s role?

Given the name of the nonprofit, I called the York County Community Foundation.

“We’ve been helpful in working with hosting meetings of community leaders and personnel from the charter schools to show them the community leadership in York was strongly behind the all-charter methodology of improving academic performance,” Bill Hartman, president and CEO of the York County Community Foundation said Tuesday. He, too, noted that the foundation and YorkCounts initially recommended the model.

Hartman said the foundation made some recommendations about who might be a nonprofit board member and worked with several of the charter operators that applied.

Some have questioned whether anyone on the charter board lives in the city, and Meckley said last night he didn’t think any of the three inaugural members do.

“I think the most important thing to be taken into consideration is the capability and credibility of the individuals on the board and the skill sets they bring to this initiative,” Hartman said Tuesday when asked about that concern. “Carl Anderson, Jody Keller and Ernie Waters, all three are proven community leaders with good track records (of) providing the kind of leadership that’s going to be needed for us to improve academic peroformance of York City schools.”

Hartman said the community foundation would not be involved in any way with the management or operation of the schools  but would be willing to provide support or advice if asked.

The charter name reflects that foundation’s support for the process throughout and that the foundation is sponsoring the entity’s nonprofit application, he said, but he thinks the name will be changed to something broader in the future.

Richard Page, executive vice president of development for Charter Schools USA, said the board members are “independent community leaders who want to vol their time to govern the schools.”

They were identified through conversations in the community, with the recovery officer and the district, he said. The company explained its goals, he said, but the board members are “completely independent of us.”

“These are community leaders who are willing to put their experience and reputation on the line to oversee these schools,” he said.

Margie Orr, president of the York City School Board, believes the nonprofit board should contain city residents, saying it’s otherwise “totally overlooking the taxpayers who fund our children’s education.”

Posted in Angie Mason, Charter schools, York City School District | 3 Comments