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Ligonier Valley superintendent reviews state performance

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Ligonier Valley school district will pass along its comprehensive plan to the State Department of Education, after the school board approved the submission at its meeting Monday.

Dr. Christine Oldham, the district's superintendent, said no recommendations for changes to the plan's draft were submitted while it was on public display last month.

During the board's work session, Oldham gave a presentation on Pennsylvania School Performance Profile, a new online tool used to provide information and resources on school quality for public schools throughout the state. The tool scores schools on various academic criteria, such as achievement, closing the achievement gap and growth, using a points scale and a zero to 100 percentage scale.

Ligonier Valley Middle School and High School scored in the 80 to 89.9 percentage bracket, which Oldham said means the schools' performances went beyond state expectations. R.K. Mellon Elementary School and Laurel Valley Elementary School scored in the 70 to 79.9 percentage bracket, which Oldham said means the schools' performances met state expectations.

Oldham also gave a presentation on the district's PSSA and Keystone performance for the 2012-2013 school year, comparing it to previous years. Significant improvements were seen in third-grade reading and seventh-grade math, while fifth-grade subjects showed drops in scores. Oldham said schools throughout the state have seen decreases in fifth- grade scores.

During public comment, Linda Kalp gave a statement on behalf of the Ligonier Valley Education Association, outlining teachers' involvement in both the school communities and the communities in which they live.

“We are of course educated, dedicated professionals; however, we are much more than that,” Kalp said. “Our efforts, interests and talents are far-reaching.”

Serving on the Fort Ligonier Days parade committee, tutoring at the Ligonier Valley YMCA, advising student clubs and participating in charity races were a few of the activities Kalp mentioned.

In other business, representatives from Wessel & Co. of Johnstown gave the board an unofficial summary regarding the district audit. They said a final report will be issued shortly.

Oldham is pleased that the audit thus far appears clean and reveals satisfactory numbers.

“I feel great about it because it is really the first time that we've been in a position of having a fund balance and being able to set money aside for PSERS (Public School Employees' Retirement System) and health care,” she said. “We're in a position where we're able to designate funds and maybe alleviate that day-to-day issue of how are we going to pay for it when it gets here. Certainly that won't cover it all, but it's a definite move in the right direction.”

The audit will be available to the public upon its completion, board member Bruce Robinson said.

The next meeting will be held 7 p.m. Nov. 11 with a work session at 6 p.m.

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or nchynoweth@tribweb.com.

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