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York schools' recovery efforts focus on short-term plans

Written by Dylan Segelbaum/York Daily Record-Sunday News | May 21, 2015 3:46 AM
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FILE PHOTO: Courtesty of Carnegie Mellon University

(York) -- Moving forward with its recovery, the York City School District is expected to roll out a series of short-term plans focused on achieving specific goals once a nonprofit organization completes a comprehensive review of the system in mid-July.

"What this plan is intended to do was take the aspects that most influence instruction -- teaching and learning -- and work to improve each one simultaneously," Acting Education Secretary Pedro Rivera said on Wednesday at Hannah Penn K-8. "It's not cookie cutter; it's very tailored to the needs of York students."

Mass Insight, a nonprofit group based in Boston that helps turn around schools, will start analyzing data from the district next week along with interviewing students, parents, teachers and community members. The organization will then deliver its findings and recommendations for improvement no later than July 15. The Pennsylvania Department of Education will pay $140,000 for the review, Press Secretary Nicole Reigelman said in an email.

Carol Saylor, the York City School District's chief recovery officer, said that leaders need to know where the district currently stands. In the past, she said, the district has had grand plans that were well-intentioned and comprehensive -- but that has made it impossible to track what's been done.

"Before we can decide where we're going," she said, "we need to know where we are."

Rivera, Saylor and York Mayor Kim Bracey announced the update about the direction of the district during a news conference at the school. Other leaders including Supt. Eric Holmes, state Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York, as well as several members of the York City School Board were also in attendance.

Here's how the approach would work:

• Once Mass Insight completes its review, areas of improvement in the district will be prioritized.

• Then, 90-day plans will then be developed, and the progress on them will be publicized.

• These short-term proposals could be based on what's already in the current recovery plan.

Saylor, who was appointed chief recovery officer on April 9 and is tasked with turning the district around, will also co-chair a committee with Bracey focused on taking action within the community.

During the news conference, they said the committee will not hold monthly meetings nor will it have a set number of members. Rather, it will be open to anyone who wants to help out. They said it will work almost like a series of task forces aimed at getting specific initiatives done.

"Going forward, we are excited about this effort," Bracey said. "Again, everyone is part of this -- has to be a part of this.

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This article comes to us through a partnership between the York Daily Record and WITF.

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