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Changes coming to state testing...
December 5, 2017

Recently, several changes to state testing were passed by the legislature. In relation to the Keystone Exams, the requirement to pass all three exams (Algebra 1, Biology and Literature) in order to graduate from high school was again delayed. As of now, the class of 2020 will need to pass all three exams in order to graduate. I encourage everyone to contact your legislators and speak with them about eliminating this graduation requirement.

There were also changes made to the PSSA. In both English/Language Arts and Math, a section has been eliminated from the test. This will result in two less days of testing and is a very positive change for our students.

The School Performance Profile (SPP) scores were recently released to the public. The state is informing us that this will be the final year to have a SPP score assigned to our buildings. This, too, is a positive change as the SPP score is mostly based upon only the Keystone Exams and PSSA results. The new "scorecard" being issued by the state is called the Future Ready Index. As more information is released on what this may look like, we will provide it to you.

As always, thank you for the support you show our students and staff. We have an amazing district and it should never be measured by only looking at standardized test scores.

Dr. Lausch

PVAAS - What does it mean?
October 23, 2017

The Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System, or PVAAS, is a tool used by the state to measure a school or teacher's influence on the academic progress of students from year to year. The state uses the PSSA and Keystone Exams to measure the growth of students in a specific teacher's classroom by comparing the current year's assessment to prior year's assessments. Only teachers who teach PSSA or Keystone tested subjects will receive a PVAAS score.

Recently, the state released Donegal's PVAAS data from the 2016-2017 school year. The expected goal is to attain a minimum of one year's growth in one year's time, regardless of a student's actual achievement level.

I am happy to report that Donegal's classroom teachers exceeded the state average of meeting or exceeding the growth factor for students. In fact, Donegal was 9% above the state average. Perhaps the most impressive statistic is that 40% of Donegal teachers receiving a PVAAS score exceeded the standard of a year's growth in a year's time. Statewide, only 26% of teachers met that standard.

I am exceptionally proud of our students and staff for the hard work demonstrated on a daily basis. While I am very proud of the tremendous PVAAS scores, we also know that we still have work to do. We will continue to look for ways to improve student achievement in all of our buildings.
Immunizations
August 28, 2017

By now, everyone should be aware that there was a change in the state immunization requirements. These changes have been mailed/emailed/posted/called home about several times over the past year.

Now that school has begun, we have hit a critical point. Any student who has not received the required immunizations or has not provided the school with a physician's plan to receive the required immunizations, must be excluded from school after the 5th day. This means that any student without immunizations or the physician's plan may not come to school beginning Wednesday, September 6. If your child participates in athletics or extra-curricular groups, he/she may not participate in those either.

Even though we have communicated this numerous times in mass and with personal communications, the number of students who may be excluded is higher than we had hoped it would be. I am asking everyone to ask your friends and neighbors if their child has received the required immunizations. We want to avoid excluding any children as a result of these changes. Thank you so much for your help!
The start of school is almost here!
August 2017

The return of students is one of the most exciting times each year. Over the summer months, it tends to be a little too quiet. I always look forward to hearing the sounds of our students in the schools.

In preparation for student arrival at school, you should have received a notification to verify your information in our system. The electronic verification will take the place of the paper copies you used to receive at the start of the year. Please take the time to verify your information as soon as possible. In the event of a school or student emergency, it is critical that we are able to reach you. If you encounter any issues with the verification of your information, please contact the office of the school where your child(ren) attend.

We look forward to seeing the students on August 28th!

Dr. Lausch
Constitutional Amendment on Property Taxes
September 29, 2017

On November 7, Pennsylvania voters will be asked to consider an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution regarding property tax reduction. This amendment could be confusing to some, so I wanted to share information I have related to it. The important thing to know is that this is not an amendment that eliminates property taxes. I hope the information below is helpful to you when you go to the polls.

What is the proposed constitutional amendment that will appear on the ballot?
The question on the ballot will ask voters if the state constitution should be amended to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation allowing local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100% of the assessed value of each homestead property within a taxing jurisdiction.

What is a homestead property exclusion?
A homestead exclusion lowers a property owner’s tax bill by reducing the assessed value of the home before property taxes are levied. For example, if a home is assessed at $50,000 and the homestead exclusion is $5,000, then the homeowner only pays taxes on an assessed value of $45,000.

What does the ballot question mean, and how is the proposed change different from what is permitted now?
The state constitution was amended in 1997 to allow up to one-half (50%) of the median assessed value of all homestead property within a local taxing jurisdiction. The question now before voters is to allow current law to be expanded to raise the cap from 50% to a maximum of 100%.

What impact would this change have on my property taxes? Does this mean my property taxes will be eliminated?
Voter approval of the ballot question would not eliminate property taxes, or have any immediate impact on your property tax bill. The amendment to the constitution cannot by itself impact your tax bill, or direct your local school board to make changes in setting tax rates. It simply allows the General Assembly to adopt legislation in the future expanding current law regarding homestead exemptions. Changes can be provided only if enabling legislation is signed into law, and if the state can provide revenue to fund the increased homestead exclusion. It is important to keep in mind that as a practical matter, even with legislative authorization, homestead exclusions are only possible if there is some source of new revenue to fund them.