Happy New Year to all! 2023 is looking great so far!
As you know, the Coalition kicked off the new year with our Open House, “Local Government Matters.“ The excitement in the room was palpable with an excellent turn out. Guests were treated to a night of impassioned speeches by Mayor Mike Sharkey and State House Representatives Mike Jones, Wendy Fink, and Kate Klunk.
Coalition Officers Bill Hall, Jen Henkel, Joe Wilson, and Nathan Henkel closed the evening with an overview of our Coalition Platform. Thank you to everyone who made this event a success.
In addition to keeping up with school district news, meetings, boards, and events, our Coalition is keeping its promise to the community in continuing to offer monthly specials focusing on issues of community concern. We are proud to announce the following specials for February and March:
Movie Watch Party: “Whose Children Are They?”
February 9th at 6:30
Summit Grove, The Lodge Conference Room
Trailer: Whose Children Are They? | Official Trailer
“Teens in Crisis” – A Coalition Mental Health Special
March 9th at 6:30
Summit Grove, The Lodge Conference Room
*Featuring a student testimony, Licensed Therapists and Resources from The House of Hope.
**Older students may attend at the discretion of their parents.
January 19th School Board Meeting
Grading Scale Change
Dr. Molin presented a change to the grading scale that would compress the weighted GPA (which rewards students for taking more difficult honors and AP classes–the reward is now reduced) and lower the letter grades and GPA scores assigned to percentages by a total of 5 percentage points, allocated across the scale. Whereas previously a 64 was the highest failing grade, it is now a 59. This brings SYCSD in line with some schools in our area, but lowers our standards below those of Dallastown and York Suburban. Coalition officer Nathan Henkel had seen a preview of the grading scale, and had objected to the overall lowering of standards. The one clearly positive change that appeared in the preview, which was to make the GPA mapping more continuous (so, for example, it wouldn’t jump from a 3.75 to a 3.25 based on a single percentage point), was not evident in the presentation. We will be following up to ensure that at least this element is preserved.
* A Coalition response to this will be a part of our March 9th Special “Teens In Crisis“
Ms. Tanya Morret, a Nationally Certified School Climate Coach gave the following presentation on the School’s Climate Survey Update from the Summer/ early Fall of 2022. The presentation can be viewed here: School Board Meeting – 1/19/23
Ms. Morret notes that survey results are worsening all over York County, including our District, but mentioned that we are not too far from the State average. The Coalition notes that with cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh pulling the State average way down, this offers little comfort.
She notes that “the area of most concern to the Committee is the area of SEL”
From the Climate Survey the following priorities were pulled from the data by the Committee:
- Student Self-Efficacy / Integrity
- Conflict Resolution / Peer Relationships
- Connectedness / Involvement
From there, the Committee pulled in some listening sessions because “the Survey could only take us so far and we needed to delve in and hear some other voices.” She went on to explain that Dr. Mollin sent out invitations to “families, students and staff to join in on listening sessions.” All groups were given the same six questions and the answers were summarized in a report given to Dr. Mollin in a paired down qualitative analysis. Three reported themes were the data findings:
- Representation and inclusion of students from Diverse Backgrounds
- Better Communication
- Mental Health of Staff and Students
Dr. Mollin continued the presentation by explaining how the Administration began this school year by the Implementation of High Reliability Schools Phase One.
November 3rd was the first time the Climate Committee met with students for three 90 minute sessions. Ms.Morret reflected on the first of these sessions with students: “Now this is what I’ll share ..when you say the word mental health, there’s lots of different definitions. And so, while the first meeting was really to unpack which direction they wanted to go and what was the name of it, at this point, listening to the conversation of the students… they may call it mental health, but what they were saying, I was trying to understand what THEY felt the optimal vision of what being mentally healthy meant to them.”
In December the students met again with the Climate Committee and reported the following synthesized data in answer to the question “What does it look like, sound like, and feel like if you are feeling mentally healthy? Emotionally and Physically?” Here’s the reported response:
*Mental Health of Students and Staff
- Positive Interaction with Peers and School – “Everyone accepting of everyone, Positive engagement between Peers , manners with no threats”
- Fun and Welcoming “They wanted laughter. They wanted classrooms and teachers that were excited to be there. Positive language. Being able to laugh at situations and themselves and they wanted visual representation of all students”
- Peaceful Productive Conversations – “ They wanted constructive criticism, understanding and seeking to understand, students being able to express their opinions freely , and peaceful conversations among peers. So they wanted a structured environment where those conversations were not only peaceful, but productive and constructive.”
In January, Ms. Morrett gave the students “several evidence based resources” including the tool kits that come from The Department Of Pennsylvania Education.
Dr. Mollin introduced the following strategies being offered.
“We had The Attorney General’s Office come in and work with our staff on how to promote peaceful conversations, how to deal with it when someone says something that’s insensitive and inflammatory , how to deal with it on the spot, so we’ve done that.” – Dr. Molin
Needless to say, the Coalition is wary about the kind of “help” that comes from Harrisburg or Washington.