Former Student Opposed to Staffing Collapse in Math Department
CLEARFIELD – On Monday night, the Clearfield Area School District Board of Directors postponed staffing decisions, including eight positions, which could be collapsed as a result of ongoing budget difficulties.
Board President Dave Glass said they’ll schedule a special meeting possibly as early as next week in order to vote on these staffing positions for 2010-11.
During the public comment period, former student Alex Angstadt voiced opposition to the board’s consideration of collapsing a math tutor position at the high school.
“I’m shocked and fearful,” he said, indicating it was his understanding they would not be filling the open geometry position at the high school. He said he was also alarmed by their plans to take Glenna Woodring from her math tutor position and place her into the classroom.
Angstadt said the students have been “pushed” toward proficiency in math on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments (PSSA). He said they have made a steady increase on the exams.
“Why would you change (the staffing),” he said. As a student, he admitted to struggling in math over the years. He said he sought tutoring from Woodring.
He credited his “vast knowledge” to the guidance that he received from Woodring. He said she helped him become more prepared and perform at a higher level.
“If students don’t have a tutor, who will they go see? How can you ensure each student receives the one-on-one attention that they need to be pushed toward success,” Angstadt asked.
By collapsing the position, he said class sizes would only grow larger. He said teachers then wouldn’t be able to guarantee each student understands the covered course materials. He said his former classmates would continue to experience the affects of the board’s decision following high school.
Angstadt said students are expected to have well-established math skills at the college level. Without the necessary skills, he said students would struggle to survive at a college or university.
“I understand budgets. But if you decide to collapse this position, you’re not just failing the math department. You’re failing every student at the high school,” he said.
Prior to the closed session last week, the board was approached by Woodring and Judi Bookhamer, both of whom teach in the high school’s math department. Both voiced concerns about the possible aftermath if the board elected to cut a faulty member to resolve budget issues.
Woodring said she “felt strongly” for her department and its student performance. She said they have worked alongside Tim Janocko, assistant principal, in order to better the students’ test scores on the PSSA.
In the past, Woodring said the students only scored a proficiency level of 33 percent in math on the PSSA. She said they noted the college preparatory students who are exposed to algebra and geometry classes have performed well on the assessment.
“It’s not good. It’s not good enough,” she said. She said the students have more recently achieved a proficiency of 56 percent. However, she noted they must reach 100 percent proficiency in math by 2014.
In addition, she pointed out that the students will soon begin the Keystone Exams. She emphasized these exams will account for one-third of their final course grade. As a result, she said the students will need practice and help from the math faculty.
“We’re the front line,” Woodring said. “. . . If they don’t do well, we take the heat. I realize the concerns with the budget. I really do. (Our) students must come first.
“We have a long way to go over the next few years. We have tutoring in place, but the kids need a full staff. Fifty-six percent is a long ways to 100 percent by 2014.”
Bookhamer said she was proud of the math department’s faculty members. She said they have come far since she joined the staff. She called attention to their department, stating it was among a few that offered statistics courses in Clearfield County.
“Any cuts to the math department could be detrimental. Let us continue to grow,” Bookhamer said. Makin said the board hasn’t decided if any cuts will be made to the math department staff. He said they would announce their decision at next week’s regular meeting.
Glass said he appreciated the dedication of the faculty in the high school’s math department. Following the closed session, he added the board has mulled over budget decisions.
“We’ve taken our time. It’s a tough job. We must decide between educational interests and fiscal responsibility,” Glass said. “We must weigh the sides of both the kids and the taxpayers. None of us take it lightly.”
Click here to read prior coverage of the district’s budget.