Warwick named to national honor roll Turnout low for first education forum

By on November 2, 2011

By: MICHAEL C. UPTON Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

Turnout was low as only a handful of residents joined board members and district administration Tuesday night for the first Warwick School District education forum in the middle school auditorium. However, attendees were treated to some new, breaking information from Superintendent Dr. April Hershey before the first question and answer period.

"I received information today, a little late for this presentation, so I do want to share this as well. As you may know we have Advanced Placement (AP) courses in our high school," Hershey said. "I received an e-mail today that indicates that Warwick School District is one of 367 public school districts in the country that is being named to the honor roll by the College Board, and we are given that achievement because we had more students maintain or improve the rate at which they score. We’ve had more and more students participate in that (program). This is yet another national organization that is honoring the achievements of the Warwick School District."

AP courses offer students college level instruction and credit upon successful testing at the end of the course. Nationally, AP offers 34 courses ranging from art history to second level physics.

"This is just another example of the academic achievement that we are seeing here at Warwick," Hershey said.

Prior to Hershey’s announcement, Director of Student Services Yvette Line-Koller presented a half hour’s worth of information on student achievements. According to district information, students taking the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests in Math scored above the 2012 target of 78 percent proficiency, with the exception of the high school. The high school, which according to Line-Koller often has a greater deal of fluctuation in scores, had a proficiency percentage of 71.3 in 2008, 63.6 in 2009, 79.2 in 2010 and 68.4 in 2011.

"I want to say how pleased I am to be here this evening," began Line-Koller. "I get the pleasure of reporting all the good news."

Eventually, she presented the district’s SAT and ACT testing results, which are used by college and university administrators when considering applicants. Citing statistics published by Lancaster Newspapers, Warwick ranked first among other Lancaster County districts in SAT scores.

"SATs are tests that students choose to take and they choose to take those in preparation for college entrance," Line-Koller said. "I think it’s also important to note that we have a 70 percent participation rate… That is a significant amount of students that are taking the SATs in preparation to attend college. So, I think we can at least take the message from that, that a lot of our students think they are going to go on to a university or to college, which is exactly what we want them to think."

The ACT is the least popular of the two similar tests. Line-Koller noted that scores for this exam remain steady.

Tuesday’s forum was divided into four segments — student achievement, community involvement, legislation and fiscal information.

There was some discussion on the future of No Child Left Behind, and Hershey touched on the district’s alternative funding committee, the new alumni association and volunteers. Legislative topics included school vouchers, cyber and charter schools, teacher evaluation, the Public School Employees Retirement System and Act1.

According to district data, Warwick currently has 89 students enrolled in cyber schools, with a projected total cost to the district of more than $856 million. Much of that cost, said Hershey, is not reimbursed by state or federal funds and ultimately becomes the burden of the local taxpayer.

For the final portion of the forum, district business manager David Zerbe provided a quick look at the budget for the upcoming year.

"I’m not going to go into every single line item of our budget, but currently our budget stands just a tad bit under $59 million," he said, adding that upcoming budgets for the next few years will be hard to manage due to decreased state funding and other issues.

The next education forum, which the public is encouraged to attend, will be held March 6. More FORUM, page A5

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