Lehigh Valley

Saucon Valley School Board tweaks graduation requirements

Class of 2017 must pass Keystone exams in order to earn diplomas

HELLERTOWN, Pa. - Saucon Valley High School students, beginning with the current freshman class, will need to pass Keystone examinations in three subjects in order to earn diplomas.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Carl Atkinson, said parents and students will be made aware of the changes which are mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Chapter 4.

"It's upon us. We've been talking about it and it's becoming very real," Atkinson said during Tuesday night's Saucon Valley School Board meeting.

Students in the classes of 2015 and 2016 must complete the required credits in English, mathematics, social studies and science and complete a senior project.

However, students in the class of 2017 must complete the same core requirements and pass Keystone examinations in Algebra I, Biology and Literature.

These exams replace the 11th grade Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) in mathematics, reading and science for the purpose of satisfying No Child Left Behind and the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements.

Students who cannot pass the Keystone examinations after two tries may have to complete a project-based assessment as stipulated by the Department of Education.


Bargaining between teachers and school district resumes May 19

Contract negotiations between the school district and the Saucon Valley Education Association will resume on May 19, according to board member Edward Inghrim.

The district's 185 teachers have been working without a new contract since June 2012. On Feb. 24, they rejected a tentative agreement that had been reached on Jan. 30 between the school district and their negotiating team.

Earlier this month, the Saucon Valley teachers dumped their negotiating team and hired an independent attorney to represent them in contract negotiations with school directors.

Inghrim, the board's chief contract negotiator, said the directors have asked the teacher's union to come to the May 19 meeting prepared to present specific proposals, since they rejected the latest state fact-finders compromise.

High school, middle school gym floors slated for refinishing

School directors voted, after some discussion, to spend $46,716.04 to refinish the high school and middle school gymnasium floors.

The high school gym floor's cost is $19,103.28  while the middle school gym floor's cost is $27,612.76

Business Administrator David Bonenberger noted that the money for the two projects comes from $91,000 that remains from a bond refinancing from the 1980s. The money must be spent by the end of the school year.

Boneberger said he is being pressured by the district's money managers to spend the funds.

If the funds aren't spent, the school district could face an interest rate arbitrage issue, Boneberger said.

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