If proposed legislation about high school graduation requirements becomes state law, Pennsylvania students would no longer be held to standardized testing to prove their readiness to graduate.
Elizabethtown Superintendent Michele Balliet informed the school board at its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 25, that Senate Bill 1095 had been passed unanimously by the state House education committee the previous day.
Passed by the Senate in June, the bill would provide alternative pathways to graduation other than the Keystone Exams and would allow the state Department of Education to establish guidelines for those alternatives for schools, teachers and students. The next step is for the bill to move through the House and then return to the Senate for final approval.
“I think that’s great news for our students,” said Balliet.
Balliet reported that she and three other superintendents met Sept. 17 with state Rep. David Hickernell to lobby for the bill, which has the support of such education organizations as the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
The school board also approved the hiring of Garret Rain, a retired Pennsylvania State Police captain, as a safety and security consultant for the Elizabethtown Area School District. Rain, who runs the consulting firm Rain Public Planning, will be paid $50 an hour.
Rain will evaluate safety and security in the district’s buildings to meet requirements of the Pennsylvania Act 44 legislation on school safety and security.
Rain’s hiring was initially discussed at an executive session held before the Aug. 28 school board meeting. A recent state law allows school boards to discuss safety and security measures during executive sessions, which are not open to the public. Rain attended that meeting along with district’s school resource officer, Officer Richard Regel of Elizabethtown Borough Police.
Following the meeting, district human resources director Richard Toth, who also serves as the school safety and securitycoordinator, said the executive session included findings from an initial assessment on the district’s first facility to be reviewed for security, which was East High Elementary. Toth said that Rain is currently assessing the high school/middle schoolbuilding. Rain is scheduled to have assessments completed on all the district’s facilities by March, Toth said.
Also at the meeting, middle school technology education teacher Terry Bupp-Petersheim was named the Air Force Association’s STEM Teacher of the Year. (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.) Presenting his award certificate was retired Air Force Lt. Col. Dennis Sprenkle, president of the York/ Lancaster Chapter of the AFA. In addition to teaching seventh- and eighth-graders, Bupp-Petersheim has organized an engineering club and teams for various competitions, such as such rocket launching and robotics.
The school board also approved the expulsion of a student for the rest of the school year for violating district policies that prohibit the possession of weapons and terroristic threats. After the meeting, district spokesman Troy Portser declined to say what sort of weapon or threat but did say it was a high school student and that the incident occurred on Aug. 30.