UCF honors Hostetler; more debate on UHS discipline

By JP Phillips, Staff Writer, The Times

Retiring Unionville-Chadds Ford School District Supervisor of Building and Grounds Rick Hostetler and his replacement, James Whitesel during Monday night’s Board of Education meeting.

Monday night’s Unionville Chadds-Ford School Board meeting began with honoring Rick Hostetler, who is retiring after 26 1/2 years in the district.  Hostetler started in 1991 as a Head Mechanic in Maintenance and has been the Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds since 1993.

The final budget of $87.1 million passed on a 7-2 vote.  Board Members Carolyn Daniels and John Murphy both opposed it in protest of the state-mandated formula for splitting the burden between counties.  This year, Chester County residents will see a .35% increase, while Delaware County will realize a 6.43% increase.  According to Director of Business and Operations Bob Cochran, bills will be mailed to residents on June 29th, offering a 2% discount for payments received by the end of August.  Penalties will be levied for payments received after October 31.

During the Residents’ Comments section of the meeting, a couple of residents took exception to the grounds master plan that was presented at last week’s work session.  They felt that the proposal did not match community needs and was more like a wish list.  They took umbrage with the approximately $10 million price tag that taxpayers would fund.  They also pointed out that the design consultant, K&S Engineering, has a conflict of interest since they not only make recommendations, they also design and will invariably bid on the project.

Many board members assured the public that they have made no decision on any of the recommendations presented.  They did agree to extend K&S’s contract to include more site visits and costs analysis (for a final cost of $15,400).  In their upcoming fall presentation, costs for each component of the proposal would be broken down, allowing the district to pick and choose any (or none) of the items.

All year long parents and students have been coming to board meetings to express their concerns with the current disciplinary policy from a student’s perspective.  This resulted in a new policy outlining a procedure for first-time offenders to request an expungement of a suspension.

Last night, several current and former high school staff members and community residents voiced their concerns about an apparent attitude and behavior shift that has been occurring over the past 18 months.  Many stated that more students are being disrespectful to staff and teachers.  It was said that parents appear to be part of the problem, as some pressure staff to not enforce the existing discipline code.  There was a general sense that teachers and staff are not always supported by administration in their disciplinary efforts.

A staff member explained his support for the high school administration’s disciplinary decisions that resulted from student drinking during a fall football game, as well as the recent incident regarding bathroom vandalism (the resulting suspensions from the football game sparked the expungement debate).

Some board members agreed that a discipline policy with clear consequences for poor behaviors is important, and that the current policy needs a thorough review and update to ensure fairness.

Administration again confirmed their desire to research and develop the list of discipline infractions with appropriate consequences over the summer.

Lindner’s suggested an interim policy as he does not feel that Administration will have the new policy in place by the time school starts in August.  Assistant Superintendent John Nolen confirmed that recommendations would likely be ready in mid-September.  The “Code of Conduct” committee includes parents, teachers, administrators and students, and will meet during the summer to meet this deadline.

The board approved 8-1 (Daniels opposed) a Dean of Students position at the high school.  Daniels thought more studies should be done to examine the climate.  Lindner was hesitant to support the position unless it is clear that this position is designed to support the students, and not solely to impose discipline.  Board Member Tom Day eased Lindner’s concerns by pointing him to the job description.  Day read, “The dean of students will work closely with Unionville High schools staff, students, and parents to build and maintain a positive, safe school climate.  The deans’ primary responsibility will be to focus on supporting the growth, wellness and health of Unionville high school students.”

The board tabled voting on the student handbook until the July 16th board meeting due to suggested edits.

Next Up:  Board meeting on July 16th at 7:30 in room 14 at the District Office, adjacent to the High School.

All board meetings are open to the public.  They are broadcasted live (and archived) on the UCFSD web site.

Board documents:  http://www.boarddocs.com/pa/uncf/Board.nsf/public

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment