Renovations at the Fred S. Engle Middle School are not disrupting classes, but community groups that regularly used the building for sports teams and other activities are worried where they will have to go.
E-mail rumors of the district cutting off all outside groups from using school property were so wide spread that School Board President Lynn Klingensmith began the Sept 24 board meeting with an announcement. "There is no movement on the part of the board to prohibit any use of any facilities by any group," she said.
Even though the board does not intend to exclude outside groups that have been using the middle school and other district buildings for years, the construction at the middle school has forced programs out of there, leaving them to try to fit into the already busy schedules at other buildings.
"It obviously had some implications. It was not our intention to appear to be uncooperative or unresponsive," Klingensmith said. "Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of facilities at our disposal. We do try to work with as many groups as possible including our own district related events."
AGRA (Avon Grove Recreation Association) gymnastics was one group that found itself without their usual practice space, but it appears at this point that they can be accommodated. AGRA and Red Hawks Basketball, as well as AGRA wrestling still have to find new spots for their teams.
Some of the teams may be able to shift to the Avon Grove Intermediate School, and the Middle School still may be available for one-time events like sports registrations, but not for a full sports season schedule.
"I think we're in good shape. There's still some work to do on AGRA gymnastics as well, and we're working on AGRA basketball. It's still a work in progress," Facilities Committee Chair Robert Weidenmuller said. He noted that his committee will be looking facility usage at their next meeting.
In other business, the district got a break in interest rates for it's planned bond refinancing, securing a rate of 2.46 percent for $15.5 million. By refinancing all of its bond issues, the district will save $437,000 over the life of the bonds, more than twice the original savings estimate.
The board also heard a progress report from the schools. Based on PSSA testing, the district made Adequate Yearly Progress for the 2008-09 school year. Each of the schools also met AYP targets with the exception of the High School.
Overall, 84.0 percent of intermediate school students in grades 3 through 6 scored proficient or advanced in reading, and 90.1 percent scored proficient or advanced in mathematics. At the Middle School 88 percent of the students tested scored proficient or advanced in reading, and 91.5 percent scored proficient or advanced in math.
The high school met 19 out of 21 targets, but fell short in the Latino/Hispanic subgroup scores in reading and special education subgroup scores in mathematics. Overall, 75 percent of the 11th graders scored proficient or advanced in reading, and 65.5 percent scored proficient or advanced in math -- above the state average.
"Our vision is that all students will achieve academic excellence," said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Margie Sharp. "We really are making nice progress here closing the achievement gap between those subgroups [up through eighth grade]."
The presentation also pointed out that the district's strategic plan includes increasing participation in higher-level mathematics courses at the secondary level, and continuing to expand advanced placement courses. Pre-algebra is being piloted at the intermediate school this year, with roughly 50 sixth-graders in the program.