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Superintendent's Update: September 17, 2021

Dear WSSD community,

I hope this email finds you in good health and spirits. I wanted to share some key information as we close our opening week and the sixth day of school. But first, check out our First Day of School video that captures many moments of our students, teachers, and staff coming back together again. 

At Monday night’s legislative meeting, the Board of School Directors took action on a number of items and I want to highlight several of them.  I encourage you to please visit our website to view the meeting and/or to access Boarddocs for information related to the meeting.  

I want to welcome and congratulate Mrs. Amy Caruso who was unanimously appointed to fill the vacant seat of Ms. Chapin Cimino and look forward to her passion and commitment to the students, staff and community of Wallingford-Swarthmore. 

As I had shared with you in my Entry Plan, “Our North Star is deeply rooted in our mission and vision statement, that among other things, calls for the pursuit of excellence and positions us to be a World Class District”.  One of the many steps towards that journey is to fully understand where we have been to better understand where we need to go. As we look forward to the development of a five year strategic plan we must first begin collecting important data points. Two of those salient data sources were approved on Monday night when the Board voted to conduct an Equity Audit in the Fall and a Curriculum Audit in the Spring.  Both audits will provide an overview of our practices, procedures, protocols, programs and gaps as well as discrepancies that may exist between and amongst groups of students. We look forward to the rich conversations and action planning the results of the audits will generate, that will in turn contribute to the development of our five year strategic plan. 

At the meeting, I also shared that 98 percent of our staff were fully vaccinated as well as the percentage of our WSSD students over 12 years of age who are fully vaccinated. As of today, the vaccination rate of our students by grade level is as follows: 12th: 71%; 11th: 51%; 10th: 49%; 9th: 51%; 8th: 53%; 7th: 52%. 

Per the CDC, “Vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are at low risk of symptomatic or severe infection.” We encourage families to reach out to their physician to make the best medically informed decision for their child.                    

I have received a number of inquiries from families who are having difficulty uploading the vaccination cards to PowerSchool. Please refer to the FAQs under the COVID information tab on our website for direction and/or please feel free to contact your child(s) school nurse. 

At our September 15th Facilities and Finance Committee meeting, we discussed the 2022-2023 budget calendar, the budget process, revenues, and ESSER funding. We also reviewed the potential  licensing agreement with Forecast 5 Analytics that supports budget planning, budget projections, trend analysis, and comparative analysis with other districts in the commonwealth. The tools also support the development of analytics such as student spending, resource allocation, compensation trends and comparative student performance.  Furthermore, we looked into a proposal from the Pennsylvania Economy League to conduct a demographic analysis to better support the district's long term planning. James Baldwin stated, “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced”.  These rich data dives, along with many more planned throughout this calendar year, will allow us to be better informed and prepared for crucial decisions that lie ahead. 

In addition, to enhance our current safety measures we discussed student safety as it relates to access to our buildings  As of October 1st, all visitors will use the Raptor Visitor Management System and will need to provide identification as they enter our schools.  We are asking that anyone who enters our buildings has a government issued ID.  Raptor will provide a consistent system to track visitors and volunteers. 

As I conclude my communication, a special “shout out” and congratulations to the ten Strath Haven High School seniors who were named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship competition. 

The Strath Haven HS field hockey teams will be hosting Great Valley this evening. JV is at 5:30 p.m. and varsity is at 7 p.m. at King Field. Please join me in supporting the team tonight. 

Stay Safe, 

Wagner Marseille, Ed.D.