Mr. Brookhart's Blog

  • Is the Berwick Area School District considering leaving Vo-Tech?

    Posted by Wayne Brookhart on 4/7/2017

    The topic of our future at CMVT has come up twice recently in our public meetings of the School Board.  The possibility of a feasibility study was initiated to determine alternative options for Vocational-Technical programs in the district. It has not received majority support of the Board when discussed.

    The district is continuing studies of Vocational-Technical programs that are not currently offered at CMVT and strategies for providing a program of studies for students interested in CMVT who are denied admission.  Berwick Area School District students have been denied admission at CMVT due to space limitations in certain programs.

    At no point has the Board had a majority vote to either leave Vo-Tech or have a feasibility study of the possibility of leaving Vo-Tech. In fact, this year, the Berwick Area School Board unanimously approved the Vo-Tech budget with an increased financial commitment of more than $50,000.  The Berwick Area School District funds approximately 28% of the operations of CMVT and spends more than 1.7 million dollars on Vo-Tech each fiscal year. The district sends more students to CMVT than any other district in Columbia or Montour County and makes the largest commitment to the school of any of the sending districts by a wide margin.

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  • Is there any truth to the rumor that the Berwick Area School District is planning to close Nescopeck Elementary?

    Posted by Wayne Brookhart on 11/30/2016

    The district is not currently discussing any future grade or building configurations, and has not discussed them since our most recent feasibility study, which resulted in the construction of West Berwick Elementary and the closure of 14th Street and Orange Street Elementary.

    Although it is not under discussion, another study of the Nescopeck Building should be imminent due to its age and anticipated future expenditures should the building remain open. A new roof is needed, as well as other interior and exterior alterations, which are better assessed by a professional architectural company. A summary of other properties in the district would likely be a part of this review.

    A study of this type typically takes 90-120 days, and would likely be available for public inspection or discussion until the summer of 2017.  Any changes made as a result of the study, an analysis of costs and effects on students and district taxpayers could not be realistically made in the 2017-2018 school year.

    The result could be maintenance of the status quo with intermittent upgrades to the building, which will allow it to remain as a viable option for our students. Other options will also be presented, along with a financial report and educational impact to accompany each option.

    Please attend our regular public meetings on the second Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at 500 Line Street for updates on any plans being discussed by our Board.

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  • What is the position of the district on standardized testing?

    Posted by Wayne Brookhart on 10/27/2016

    The standardized testing era in public education has increased to the level where it is harmful to the educational process. Up to three weeks of class time can now be used to comply with testing mandates. We had extensive discussions about this at Board meetings last year regarding the time and expense associated with the test.

    Although we do receive meaningful data from the assessments currently used, the same conclusion regarding student progress could be gathered from a more streamlined process. The district has taken a position in opposition to the time committed and overemphasis on the assessments. We also acknowledge that we do need benchmarks to guide our instructional program and facilitate effective academic transitions for our students.

    We also support teaching of the content that is covered in the PSSA, which is the time consuming assessment of which we speak. This content is covered in the SAS (Standards Aligned System) on the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s web site.  Following a review of the SAS, it would be difficult to argue against teaching any of the content that is tested.

    The district has traditionally scored well on the Mathematics portion of the PSSA and average on the Reading test. We fare much better on Advanced Placement (AP) exams, and have been recognized twice by the College Board for both increasing the number of students taking AP tests and scoring a 3 or better on the AP exam  by 10%. Both recognitions were received by less than 5% of the high schools in Pennsylvania.

    Although the district has significant concerns about the methodology utilized in Pennsylvania to comply with federal testing mandates, we continue to prepare our students for the assessment through instruction designed to both score well on the PSSA and provide a comprehensive, quality education for all students in all content areas and in the specialty areas.

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