School board welcomes new high school representative

By Scott Bleile

The Woodbridge School Board welcomed Danielle Burhop as the new Woodbridge High School Senior Representative during their school board meeting on Sept. 15. Dani, as her classmates call her, replaces Chase Marvil, who graduated this past June.

"Dani is a role model," said Kelley Thompson, Woodbridge High School assistant principal, who introduced her to the board. "She is not only a role model to our students, but also a role model in our community.

Dani is a senior, an "A" student and also is a manager for the girls' soccer team. She will do a great job and Woodbridge High School is proud she is serving on the board."

Board President Mike Breeding welcomed Burhop to the board. "I have known Dani for a long time and we are very happy to welcome her to the board and look forward to her representing the seniors."

Dr. Donna Hall, director of curriculum and instruction for the school district, gave a presentation explaining the 2015-16 state assessment grades. "We showed growth in all areas of the testing," said Hall. "Our scores are very close to the state averages in English/language arts and other areas and in some cases exceed the state averages. This shows how much work our staff has done to raise the scores. In ELA and math, we were above the state average in grades three and five. It was remarkable that every area had growth. Our SAT scores in the high school also showed growth."

"The state will be changing some of the testing this year, so it will change how we report the scores. Social studies testing will not be given this year so the state can revise the testing to bring it more in-line with the state standards. Also, the SAT testing for the 11th grade will be moved to January, so these scores will not show until the beginning of the next school year," added Hall.

"There are several reasons for the growth," Hall continued.

"Several (reasons) are Common Core being aligned with the curriculum in K-5 ELA and math as well as aligned with math in grades 6-12 but the main reason is the hard working teachers, specialists and most of all, the students putting their growth mindset practices in place. We still have a lot of work to complete, but this is very good news for the district."

"Each year the Woodbridge School District sends a list of legislative priorities to the Delaware Department of Education," said Heath Chasanov, Woodbridge School District's superintendent. "This year's list has some old, new and some from the state chiefs. This list will represent what the Woodbridge School district would like to see happen this year. It is up to the board to add or delete any of these items on the list. The newest to the list is continuing to allow all curricular and school calendar decisions to be made at the school board and community level. This is in reference to the bill before the legislature requiring all schools to start after Labor Day. This only affects one school district and not the others. Most, if not all the others oppose the bill."

The list was approved by the board with a 4-0 vote. Board member Walt Rudy was absent due to an illness in his family.

Chasanov also reported to the board about the August financial report. "We are in good shape so far this year. August was a slow month due to school not being in session, but everything is right on target. September is a three pay month so it will make the payroll section look a little high, but it will even out. Also, the technology section is high due to hardware upgrades in the schools and higher fees for software. This could become a concern as the year goes on, but we will keep a watch on that section."

Assistant Superintendent, Jason Cameron, provided the board with the second reading of the Suicide Prevention Policy.

Cameron explained that the policy was updated for this year and will be sent out to parents and placed on the district website. The board voted 4-0 to approve the policy.

Chasanov requested that several of the school board meeting dates be changed due to a schedule conflict.

The Thursday, Oct. 20 meeting will be moved to Wednesday, Oct. 19 and the November meeting scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 17 will be moved to Wednesday, Nov. 16. All meetings start at 6 p.m. with the public session starting at 7. The board approved the changes 4-0.

Each school gave their building reports to the board. Phillis Wheatley Elementary School reported that the school was off to a great start and that the students were getting accustomed to the routine. The school has many new staff members and they are doing a great job. The open house went well and was well attended by parents.

Woodbridge Middle School reported that the staff received great ideas from the Western Sussex Summit on Sept. 13. The staff was able to develop many strategies they can use in the classroom.

Fall sports practices have started and the staff will be doing a staff production. Roles for the production are being developed and more information will be coming shortly. The MS open house went well with over 600 people in attendance.

Woodbridge High School reported they had a Positive Behavior assembly on Sept. 8, which had a motivational speaker as well as a band. The theme was Dream, Believe, and Achieve.

The high school and middle school FFA held their open house which was well attended. Also, the school will be holding their second annual tailgating party before the high school football team plays Wilmington Friends on Sept. 23.

Woodbridge Early Child Education Center reported that they were also off to a great start and that it has been a whirlwind with all the new kids as well as a new principal and assistant principal, but that everything was going well. They had four open houses and had over 391 parent and students attend. It was standing room only in many of the classrooms.

The school will be holding a fall reading rally where many of the high school athletes will be reading to and sharing goals with the younger students.

Burhop gave her first report to the board stating that things are going well between the students and staff at the high school.

The students feel that the school structure is better and the new procedures that have been put in place are helping cut down on problems in the hallways.

Board member Jon Barr told the board that Applebee's and Texas Roadhouse will again be involved in the Letters to Veterans program to be held on Nov. 11, Veteran's Day.

The third, fourth, and fifth grades will be writing letters to veterans and each of these restaurants will be providing dinner for several veterans. He also told the board that the Army Band will play a concert at Heritage Shores on Sept. 24.

Board member Steve McCarron congratulated the schools on their successful starts to the new school year and on how well the open houses went at each school.

Breeding echoed McCarron's comments by adding that he is proud of all the teachers and administrators for helping get the school year off on the right foot.

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