Dr. John Bell suggested that the Delaware Valley school board limit each public speaker at meetings to five minutes, which is allowed under Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Law.
But limiting speakers could limit their ideas, some board members told Bell at their Jan. 13 work session.
Board member Jessica Decker said members of the public had a right to say everything they came to say.
“We’ll be here all night,” Bell said.
“We just said we don’t care,” said board president Jack Fisher.
Bell said the new Sunshine Law must coincide with the meeting agenda, and allow comments only on agenda items during open comment sessions at meetings.
Decker said there was a difference between comments and questions.
Bell said they wouldn’t want questions that went on forever.
Board member Dawn Bukaj said she doesn’t want the time limit to be rigid.
Bukaj said she had asked Bell on three separate occasions for samples of various student records from each grade level. She said she couldn’t understand what was so difficult about providing the samples she had asked for. She said the public wanted to know.
Some board members said the new social and emotional learning seemed vastly different from the old policy.
Parents said they were concerned about the accumulated reports kept on students during their school years at DV. Bell said the records were expunged when the students left the district and did not follow them in any way.
Parents also asked about sex education, and when various topics were taught at what levels. Many wanted to see the curriculum. Bell said he encouraged parents to call teachers with questions.
Covid-caused learning losses
School board member Felicia Sheehan said she’d like to hear from the teachers themselves regarding learning losses due to Covid. Bell said losses weren’t showing widely in English Language Arts but were showing in mathematics because of the sequential learning needed to master the subject.
Tests are determining learning losses from the pandemic era.
Sometimes kids are behind, but they are learning,” he said.
School board member Pam Lutfy said summer activities that combine fun and learning help address learning loss due to Covid. Business administrator Bill Hessling said money was in the budget for summer classes.
The end to contract tracing
Bell said in the meeting, and later in a letter posted on the district’s website, that Jan. 21 ends contact tracing at DV. Zoom will end on Jan. 26 for regular students. DV’s quarantine academic access plan allows Zoom as a temporary option for quarantined students.
The third quarter begins on Jan. 27, and Jan. 28 will be a half-day for students. Middle and high school students will be dismissed at 11:15 a.m. Primary and elementary students will be dismissed at 12:15 p.m. The early dismissals will give teachers time “to tackle many necessary tasks that were sidelined while teaching in a hybrid format,” Bell said.