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Ligonier Valley will implement dean of students

| Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 11:30 a.m.

With its principals spending an increasing amount of time on state-required teacher evaluations, Ligonier Valley School District will implement a dean of students in the coming school year to assist with student discipline.

The school board voted unanimously on Monday to establish the position, which involves counseling students and parents about school and district policies and determining appropriate consequences for behavior, among other discipline-focused duties.

Superintendant Dr. Chris Oldham explained that the need for the dean of students came about because of the Pennsylvania Department of Education's new requirements demanding more time of principals, such as time-consuming teacher evaluations and observations.

“What is starting to happen is that the student discipline component is in need of some assistance so that the principal can really begin to focus more on teacher evaluations,” Oldham said.

The new position will be filled by a current instructional staff member who will teach for half of the day and serve as the dean of students for the remaining half, she said.

Other duties will include assisting with coordinating an emergency operations plan, assisting with anti-bullying program planning and developing intervention strategies and programs to encourage positive behavior.

“The need for this dean of students is precipitated because of state-mandated requirements for the evaluation of teachers that has put our principals in a very difficult situation to perform their activities thoroughly,” board member Irvin Tantlinger said.

Oldham said the dean of students will work primarily at the middle school but will spend some time at the high school. The dean will be responsible for working some evening and weekend school events.

The position will not involve a salary increase, Oldham said, but supplemental pay will be given for evening and weekend duties.

The board will likely appoint a candidate to the position in August.

In other business, the board approved the creation of STEPS, or Secondary Transition Experiences and Practices for Success. The grade 8 course will focus on interpersonal skills, careers and study skills, Principal Dave Steimer said. The seminar-style course, taught by guidance counselors, is designed to equip students with the tools they need to successfully move from middle school to high school and onward, such as note-taking and time management.

“We wanted to look at this more globally,” Steimer said. “What do students need, not just for school but for life, in transitions?”

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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