School district recognized for AP student gains

Styers to remain as board president

LEWISTOWN – Mifflin County School District is one of 373 school districts in the United States and Canada that is being honored by the College Board with placement on the Ninth Annual AP (Advanced Placement) District Honor Roll, it was announced Thursday.

Superintendent James Estep made the announcement during the monthly committee-of-the-whole meeting of the Mifflin County School District Board of Directors.

Estep said in order to be included in the honor roll, the district had to, since 2016, increase the number of students participating in AP while also increasing or maintaining the percentage of students earning AP exam scores of 3 or higher. “Reaching these goals shows that this district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are ready for AP,” Estep commented.

“Mifflin County School District has made a commitment to increasing expectations of staff and students during the past nine years. Specifically, we have committed to offering more AP courses to students, and we have committed to ongoing, high quality training for our AP teachers. We are very pleased to be informed that our efforts are paying off, and that our district has been recognized by the College Board. This kind of acknowledgement speaks volumes about the dedication of our students, faculty and administration in pursuit of more challenging academic content in preparation for higher learning and career opportunities.”

Vance Varner, director of secondary education, reported that in the 2012-13 academic year, Mifflin County School District offered seven AP classes. This year, that number has grown to 13. “Going from seven to 13 is an increase of 86 percent in six years,” Varner said. “So that’s pretty good.”

In a press release issued Thursday, Trevor Packer, senior vice-president of AP and instruction at the College Board, commented, “Success in Advanced Placement is a combination of students’ own motivation and the opportunities educators provide for them. I’m inspired by the teachers and administrators in this district who have worked to clear a path for more students of all backgrounds to earn college credit during high school.”

In other business Thursday, the board took time out to recognize the Mifflin County High School Marching Band for its recent Atlantic Coast Championship, a band competition which saw the local musicians take top honors among bands from eight surrounding states.

Band Director Art Belfiore, along with several members of the band were on hand to receive the recognition.

“To see the kids’ reactions to the announcement that we had won said it all,” Belfiore said with a smile. “Their performance was the best of the season. They worked very hard from the first day of band camp until the Atlantic Coast Championship. When we got back home there were at least 35 cars lined up behind us welcoming us back to the school. Anyone who helped in any way, no matter how small, this championship belongs to you, too. The whole community was behind us the entire way.”

Board President Terry Styers noted, “We are very proud of all of you. You brought passion to a program that was drowning and these are the results.”

In other discussions, Varner presented a copy of a letter he had sent to Venus Shade, president of the Lewistown Borough Council, on the district’s desire to increase police presence in all its schools. In it, a request was made to allow a member of the Mifflin County Regional Police Department to cover schools in the jurisdiction of the Lewistown Police Department, which had no responses from a posting listed for the position. The letter stated the district was given information that the Teamsters Local 776 Union, which represents Lewistown Police Department, would not accept a Mifflin County Regional Police officer to provide coverage within Lewistown Borough because the union feels that would be taking work away from Lewistown Police Department.

In a response received Thursday, Varner said Shade sympathized with his position, however, the union made it clear that it has no desire to enter into the proposed agreement.

District Solicitor Orris Knepp said the posting for the position was for a part-time officer and he said the union wanted the borough to make up the rest of the salary to make it full-time and the borough doesn’t want to do that. He also said the item will be on the agenda during Monday’s Lewistown Borough Council meeting for further discussion.

Board member Beth Laughlin commented, “So, we as a board and concerned citizens make plans to protect our children, meanwhile the police force is worried about covering their union butts instead of protecting children. I urge all parents to go to Monday’s Borough Council meeting and ask them what would happen if some maniac goes into the school. They will be responsible if that happens.”

In other business, the board reviewed the following agenda items slated for a vote at its Dec. 20 business meeting:

¯ Consideration of a resolution indicating that if the district decides to raise taxes next year, it will not be more than the allowable 3.2 percent of the Act 1 index. Estep noted that a vote in favor of the resolution is not a vote for a tax increase, just a formality the district has to go through in the event of that occurring.

¯ The hiring of Trystan Snyder and Darlene Pannebaker as part-time cafeteria workers.

¯ The resignation of Jennifer Myers, junior high volleyball assistant coach due to personal reasons.

¯ The transfer of Craig Bickel, custodian at Lewistown Intermediate School to East Derry Elementary School.

¯ Approval of the 2019-20 school calendar.

LEWISTOWN – Leadership of the Mifflin County School District Board of Directors will remain the same in 2019 following a reorganization meeting held Thursday evening.

E. Terry Styers was re-elected to serve a third term as board president. Also returning is Kristen Sharp for another year as vice-president.

Also on Thursday, the board voted to continue to hold its public meetings the third and fourth Thursdays beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the district administration building. The exceptions to that schedule are in November and December when the board will meet the first and third Thursday.

Other reorganization results included:

¯ Mary Lou Sigler as liaison to the Pennsylvania School Board Association.

¯ Noah Wise, Beth Laughlin, Sharp and John Knepp to serve on the operating committee of the Mifflin County Academy of Science and Technology, with Julie Maidens serving as an alternate.

¯ Knepp, Wise, Laughlin and Sigler to serve on the buildings and grounds committee.

¯ Bob Hammond, Knepp and Maidens to serve on the logo-trademark committee.

¯ Sigler, Styers, Laughlin and Sharp to serve on the curriculum and professional development committee.

¯ Sigler, Michelle Terry and Styers to serve on the policy committee.