• Superintendent Blog: June 30, 2020

    Posted by Jason Harris on 6/30/2020 9:25:00 AM

    Dear Morrisville Families,

    Summer may be upon us, but the 2020-2021 School Year looms large in the distance!  Our Administrative Team, our School Nurse, as well as our District Safety Committee are reviewing the latest guidance documents from the Centers for Disease Control, the PA Department of Education, and the Bucks County Health Department, for the sake of creating the State-mandated Return to School Plan.  Each of the aforementioned entities have released guidance for re-opening our schools in a safe manner, that mitigates spread of disease, and considers the large number of people who come to our schools on a daily basis.  Attached to this message, you will find the latest set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) from the Bucks County Health Department.  We will use the FAQs to inform our planning, in conjunction with the other guidance we have received.

    Bucks County Health Department FAQ's on Reopening School

    As you may recall, I asked parents to complete a “return to school” survey. As of the moment, 95 responses have been collected.  I am sharing the link once again, in the hopes that we can get more participation.  Your input is vital to the planning process, and we want to hear from you!  Please consider taking a few moments to complete the survey. Please complete the survey no later than July 6, 2020.

    Return to School Parent Survey

    Finally, I am pleased to inform you that the Morrisville Board of School Directors approved the Return to Participate (RTP) Plan for athletics and marching band.  You can find that document at the following link:

    Return to Participate Plan

    While no plan is infallible, it is my hope that we can create a Return To School Plan that considers the guidance as well as parent and staff input, and return our students and teachers to the classroom in September!

    As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me. 

    Sincerely,

     

    Jason B. Harris,

    Superintendent of Schools

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  • Superintendent Blog: June 14, 2020

    Posted by Jason Harris on 6/14/2020 6:00:00 PM

    Dear Morrisville Families,

    The Class of 2020 has graduated, and we have celebrated them out in a way that has never been done!  A procession of vehicles from Morrisville HS to Robert Morris Field (with three laps around the track) is surely a memorable way to honor our Senior Class.  Thank you to everyone who had a part in this event, and we are appreciative of those who lined the procession route along the way.  It is events like this that make Morrisville so special, and our District is grateful to our local police, fire, emergency services, and Borough government for assisting us with such a great memory for our students.

    We usually “take a breath” after graduation. However, we have now begun the planning for a full return to school in September.  Barring any unforeseen circumstances, our District plans to make an in-person return to school.  As required by the Department of Education, we are developing a Health and Safety Plan for both academics and athletics.  In order to plan accordingly, we are asking that you participate in a survey about our return in September.  The link is below:

    Return to School Parent Survey

    Please keep in mind that your input is very important in reaching consensus, but we cannot always accommodate every opinion in our planning.  Local guidance still calls for social distancing, symptom checks, and self-quarantine as appropriate.  However, based on the most recent guidance we have received, we are NOT planning to require the use of masks at all times in our schools when we return in September.

    We will continue to work with individuals to address unique and pressing concerns regarding the delivery of education as they relate to health and safety needs.  We continue to make staff and student health and safety a priority, and ask for your patience as we navigate the requirements to safely reopen our schools.  Both plans will be completed as soon as possible, and put on public display prior to the required Board approval.

    Below you will find the announcements for the week:

     


    While Bucks County remains in the “yellow phase” of restrictions due to COVID-19, the District will offer the following in-person office hours:

    8am to 2pm Monday through Thursday.

    We strongly encourage you to call ahead (215-736-2681) to make an appointment, as we need to respect social distancing guidelines for visitors and staff. 

     


    Report Cards:  Final report cards will be available in the parent portal of Genesis, our student information system.  Report Cards will NOT be mailed to homes that have access to Genesis.  If you do not have access to Genesis, please email Mrs. Burkhardt at mburkhardt@mv.org.

     


    The School Board will hold its Agenda Meeting on Wednesday, June 17, and its Business Meeting on Wednesday, June 24. Both meetings will begin at 7:30pm. The Board will consider the General Fund Budget at the June 24th Action Meeting.  Both meetings will be held virtually via Zoom.  Call in/Login information will be posted on our Facebook Page and our website, www.mv.org on the morning of the meeting.


    On behalf of the School District of Borough of Morrisville, I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous summer!

     

     

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  • Superintendent Blog: June 7, 2020

    Posted by Jason Harris on 6/7/2020 6:00:00 PM

    Dear Morrisville Families,

    Congratulations to the Class of 2020! We celebrate our Morrisville High School Senior Class of 2020, and wish them the best of luck in all of their endeavors.  

    Please visit the SENIOR CELEBRATION webpage for more information on our plans to celebrate the Class of 2020.  Special thanks to Mr. Damon Miller, Board President, for producing the Senior Class Virtual Graduation. 

    As the 2019-2020 school year ends, I have one word to describe it…REMARKABLE! 

    • Remarkable, in terms of our faculty’s response to moving to an emergency virtual learning environment within a few weeks.
    • Remarkable, in terms of the outpouring of support to assist our students with getting connected to the Internet with devices and hotspots.
    • Remarkable, in terms of our capacity to understand, modify, and respond to quickly changing guidance surrounding preventing the spread of COVID-19.
    • Remarkable, in terms of our collective will to do the very best we can with our existing resources, and devising creative ways to support students.

    I tip my hat to our Board, Faculty, Staff, and Administration for working together to help students thrive in a pandemic.  Well done!

    As you may know, Governor Wolf has moved Bucks County's COVID-19 restriction status from "RED" to "YELLOW".  While this means that we can offer in-person instruction as early as July 1, 2020, we must first put forth a Safety Plan (LINK to Template).  It remains our commitment to reopen schools as safely as possible, and within all available and appropriate guidance and recommendations.  As a reminder, here is a graphic from the Governor's Facebook page that details what each color category means:

    Re-opening PA Guidelines

    At the Facilities Committee this month (June 10), the Board will evaluate options for opening our outdoor facilities for public use.  Until then, all School District facilities remain CLOSED.


    Below you will find the announcements for the week.


    SUMMER READING.  Please click here for the summer reading assignments for ALL students.


    On Wednesday, June 10, the Facilities Committee will meet at 6:00pm via Zoom.  Additionally, the Finance Committee will meet on Wednesday, June 10 at 7:00 pm via Zoom.  Invitations for call-in/login will be posted on our Facebook group page and on the website, www.mv.org.


    On Friday, June 12, the Class of 2020 will celebrate their Commencement.  There will be a graduate caravan through town, with the assistance of the Morrisville Borough Police Department.   


    MEAL DISTRIBUTION CHANGE REMINDER:  Meals for ALL students 18 and under will be available on Tuesdays and Fridays only, from 11:00am to 1:00pm. 

    Meals will continue through the Summer.  Stay tuned for additional details.


    Student Belongings Pick-up/Item Return:  Elementary Schools (Grandview/Intermediate) pick-up/return times are posted here.  If you have any questions about this schedule or need to make additional arrangements, please email Mrs. Palumbo, lpalumbo@mv.org.

     

     

    Have a safe and enjoyable summer. See you in September!

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  • Superindendent Blog: May 31, 2020

    Posted by Jason Harris on 5/31/2020 6:00:00 PM

    Dear Morrisville Families,

    As you may know, as of June 5, Governor Wolf will move Bucks County' COVID-19 restriction status from "RED" to "YELLOW".  As a reminder, here is a graphic from the Governor's Facebook page that details what each color category means:

    Re-opening PA Guidelines

    At the Facilities Commitee this month (June 10), the Board will evaluate options for opening our outdoor facilities for public use.  Until then, all School District facilities remain CLOSED.

    Below you will find the announcements for the week. 

     


    On Wednesday, June 3, the Public Relations/Communications Committee will meet at 7 pm via Zoom.  Additionally, the Policy and Education Committees will meet on Thursday, June 4 at 6:30 and 7:30 pm (respectively) on Zoom.  Invitations for call-in/login will be posted on our Facebook group page and on the website, www.mv.org.


    MEAL DISTRIBUTION CHANGE REMINDER:  Meals for ALL students 18 and under will be available on Tuesdays and Fridays only, from 11:00am to 1:00pm.

    Packet pick-up and drop-off will also occur on these days.


    Attendance links for Grandview/Intermediate and Middle/Senior High School can be found here:

    GV/IS Attendance

    MS/HS Attendance

    NOTE:  June 5 will be the final week of assigned work for students.


    Please visit the link below for the latest information on the Class of 2020.

    SENIOR CELEBRATION

    Additionally, if you haven't seen it already, Mr. Haines also has a blog. It contains valuable information, and I encourage you to check it out!

    Mr. Haines' Blog

     

     

     

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  • Superintendent Blog: May 24, 2020

    Posted by Jason Harris on 5/24/2020 6:00:00 PM

    Dear Morrisville Families,

    As the 2019-2020 school year winds down, I hope that the stress of the pandemic and all of its related issues do the same.  I was pleased to hear that Governor Wolf will move Bucks County to the 'yellow' phase for re-opening.  We continue to plan for a return to school in September, based on the most recent guidelines and recommendations by our local, state, and national experts.  I am sure that school will look very different in September and going forward, and it is our aim that this remains a safe and healthy learning environment for everyone.  Stay tuned for more announcements about the 2020-2021 school year.

     

    Below you will find the announcements for the week. 

     


    Please be reminded that District offices will be closed on Monday May 25, in observance of Memorial Day.


    On Wednesday, May 27, the School Board will hold its Action Meeting at 7:30 pm on Zoom.  Invitations for call-in/login will be posted on our Facebook group page and on the website, www.mv.org.


    MEAL DISTRIBUTION CHANGE:  Meals for ALL students 18 and under will be available on Tuesdays and Fridays only, from 11:00am to 1:00pm.

    Packet pick-up and drop-off will also occur on these days.


    Attendance links for Grandview/Intermediate and Middle/Senior High School can be found here:

    GV/IS Attendance

    MS/HS Attendance


    If you have requested a Chromebook, you will be receiving a call from the District to make an appointment to pick it up.  We are working through the list of requests, and are making devices available as quickly as we can. If you still need to request a Chromebook, please email your child’s principal.

    Mrs. Palumbo (GV/IS)

    Mr. Haines (MS/HS)


    Additionally, we have some staff members making calls from their personal phones, so you may see a blocked number.  If you do not answer blocked or anonymous calls, please check your voicemail and return the calls as soon as possible.


    We are thrilled to announce that we have a new page on our website, dedicated to celebrating the Class of 2020!  Please visit the link below for the latest information on the Class of 2020.

    SENIOR CELEBRATION

    Additionally, if you haven't seen it already, Mr. Haines also has a blog. It contains valuable information, and I encourage you to check it out!

    Mr. Haines' Blog

     

     

     

    Comments (-1)
  • Superintendent Blog: May 17, 2020

    Posted by Jason Harris on 5/17/2020 6:00:00 PM

    Dear Morrisville Families,

    Although schools are closed, our teachers are providing some extraordinary ways for students to be involved.  Earlier this week, the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) held its State-level competition.  FBLA devised a plan to allow some competitive events to be held for the State Leadership Conference, usually held in Hershey, PA in April, with the help of Zoom and YouTube tools. Angy Xicara Rushford submitted her Public Speaking entry, and the virtual award ceremony revealed that she placed 9th in PA.

    NINTH IN THE STATE!!

    Congratulations, Angy, and thank you to Mrs. Kloc for supporting the FBLA efforts!

     


    Below, you will find the announcements for the week.

    On Wednesday, May 20, the School Board will hold its Agenda Meeting at 7:30 pm on Zoom.  Invitations for call-in/login will be posted on our Facebook group page and on the website, www.mv.org.


    Meals for ALL students 18 and under are still available on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Distribution of meals will be from 11:00am to 1:00pm.


    Attendance links for Grandview/Intermediate and Middle/Senior High School can be found here:

    GV/IS Attendance

    MS/HS Attendance


    If you have requested a Chromebook, you will be receiving a call from the District to make an appointment to pick it up.  We are working through the list of requests, and are making devices available as quickly as we can. If you still need to request a Chromebook, please email your child’s principal.

    Mrs. Palumbo (GV/IS)

    Mr. Haines (MS/HS)


    Additionally, we have some staff members making calls from their personal phones, so you may see a blocked number.  If you do not answer blocked or anonymous calls, please check your voicemail and return the calls as soon as possible.


    We are still working through graduation options for the Class of 2020.  There was additional guidance released by the PA Department of Education (PDE), which caused us to revamp existing drafts of plans.  As soon as we have a clear plan in place that meets the guidelines for PDE and PA Department of Health, we will communicate it to the Senior Class and their families.

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  • Superintendent Blog: May 11, 2020

    Posted by Jason Harris on 5/10/2020 6:00:00 PM

    Dear Morrisville Families,

    Before I begin, please allow me to say "Happy Mother's Day" to all of the moms in our community.  I hope that this day is filled with love, appreciation, and enjoyment, in spite of the challenging time in which we find ourselves.

    Additionally, this past week was Teacher Appreciation Week.  Please take a moment and thank our teachers for their tireless work. Personally, I have heard from former students who are now not only teachers themselves, but doctors, musicians, researchers, and...parents! (I officially feel old!)  The work of teachers impacts a community for generations, and we never truly know the outcome of that effort upon our students' lives.  If you can read this, thank a teacher!


    As mentioned in a previous post, our team has updated the Continuity of Education Plan (CoE), which now requires student participation and recording of daily attendance

    Attendance link for GV/IS

     

    Attendance link for MS/HS  

    Our limited supply of Chromebooks and hotspots are in the process of being distributed to those who have requested them.  If you need a device or WiFi, please contact your child's principal.  If you are unable to access your student's login information, you can find it in Genesis, our Student Information System.  If you need access to Genesis, please email Mrs. Burkhardt at mburkhardt@mv.org.

    This revised plan begins on May 11, 2020.  Virtual school hours will be from 10:00am until 2:30pm, Monday-Thursday.  Fridays will be reserved for teacher training, and interactions with students to support their needs in this new virtual environment.

    The 19-20 school year will end for students on Friday, June 12.  Grade calculations and timelines for completing work are explained in further detail in the CoE Plan.

    Graduation event plans are still being considered.  Stay tuned.


    A limited number of Chromebooks are being made available to students in need. Thank you to everyone who has participated in helping to meet this need.  If you need a Chromebook, please email your child's principal Mrs. Palumbo (Grade K-5) or Mr. Haines (Grade 6-12).

    If you know of someone who would like to contribute to the fundraising efforts for Chromebooks, please share the following link to our MOEF donation page.

    MOEF Donation Page


    On Friday, May 8, I participated in a Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) Town Hall conversation with local Bucks County students and Federal and State legislators.  US Congressman Fitzpatrick, PA State Senator Santarsiero, and PA State Representatives Warren and Galloway were among the law makers in attendance.  The focus of the conversation was the impact of the pandemic upon students, and funding for public education.  The students gave statements about how COVID-19 has impacted their school life, and asked questions of the law makers regarding funding for schools, budgets and programs. 

    Special thanks to MHS Senior Mawa Lewis, who spoke most eloquently on behalf of her Morrisville classmates and district.  Mawa, we are proud of you!

    You can find out more about PCCY at www.pccy.org, or by emailing Dan O'Brien at dano@pccy.org.


    I would like to bring your attention to an opportunity to support our MHS Senior Class.  Class of 2020 President, Mawa Lewis, has pioneered an effort to get a scholarship for every graduating senior who plans to go to some type of post-secondary schooling (2 or 4 year college, trade school, etc) or the military.

    Together with Morrisville Opportunity Education Foundation (MOEF) and the Morrisville-Yardley Rotary Club, she has started fundraising efforts.  You can check out her story and consider partnering with her campaign, "A Seed For All" on her GoFundMe page.

    A Seed For All


    Our 21st Century Community Learning Center (21CCLC) will be providing programming for eligible students before 10am and after 2:30pm, weekly.  For more information about this program, you can visit their Facebook page, or by emailing targueta@mv.org or mhowell@mv.orgIn addition to this programming, 21CCLC is asking that parents complete a survey for summer interest.  While a determination has not yet been made regarding an in-person camp this summer, they are planning for several contingencies and need your input.  Here is the link to the survey:

    21CCLC Summer Survey


    Our School Board Facilities and Finance Committees will meet on Wednesday, May 13.  The Facilities Committee will meet at 6:00pm and the Finance Committee will meet at 7:00pm.  Zoom (virtual) meeting invites will be posted on the website and on social media the morning of the meeting.


    As the weather gets warmer, and daydreams of an afternoon in the park or on the beach invade your thoughts, I encourage you to take some time for yourself and GET OUTSIDE!  Obviously, we need to practice social distancing, but getting some sunshine and Vitamin D is helpful to navigate this uncertain time.

    Love. Respect. Space. Grace.

    Jason

     

    Jason B. Harris,

    Superintendent of Schools

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  • Superintendent Blog: May 3, 2020

    Posted by Jason Harris on 5/3/2020 6:00:00 PM

    Dear Morrisville Community,

    I hope that this message finds you well.  Please see below for a few updates about our District.

     

    On Friday, May 1, School Board President Damon Miller and I participated in a press conference with our PA Legislators (Sen. Santarsiero, Rep. Galloway, and Rep. Warren), and Morrisville Borough Representatives (Pres. Parker, Borough Manager Mr. Mitchell) to highlight some of the issues and actions that have been undertaken in the past week on the District’s behalf.  You can find a link to a recording of the press conference here.
    https://www.senatorstevesantarsiero.com/senator-santarsiero-representatives-warren-and-galloway-call-on-governor-wolf-to-increase-funding-for-morrisville-school/

    In the press conference, a letter to Governor Wolf, co-authored by Senator Santarsiero and Representatives Warren and Galloway was discussed, which details our current plight, with an appeal for immediate help.

    You can find the letter here:

    https://www.senatorstevesantarsiero.com/senator-santarsiero-representatives-warren-and-galloway-call-on-governor-wolf-to-increase-funding-for-morrisville-school-district/


    Additionally, on the Federal level, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick has made a direct appeal to US Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos with a similar message.  You can find the Congressman's correspondence here:

    https://fitzpatrick.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/fitzpatrick-urges-department-education-provide-relief-local-school


    Below, are my remarks made at the press conference:

    Good morning, and thank you all for joining us today.  Our community of 1046 learners currently includes 868 students on campus, as well as 47 (grade 9-12) in BCTHS, 49 students in Charter Schools (cyber and brick/mortar), and an additional 59 students in Out of District (OOD) Placements for IEP needs as well as other circumstances.  We also have 23 homeschooled students, whose families provide proof that their children are meeting the PA educational standards at home.

    • Approximately 68% of the 868 students on campus are on free or reduced lunch.
    • Approximately 24.5% of the 923 students (in District and OOD) have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), subject to the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and the provision of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
    • Approximately 4% of our on campus students are considered homeless.
    • Approximately 8% of our on campus students are a second language learner, and Spanish is not necessarily the primary language spoken in their home.
    • Approximately 520 of our on campus students report that they have either no computer in their home.
    • Approximately 12 households of campus families report that they have no access to the Internet at home.

    We have been identified by PDE as a Targeted School Improvement school, due to our sub-par student performance on State Assessments.  Our students show growth year to year in these assessments, but we never reach the State standard, which can be difficult to achieve percentage-wise.  For example, we have 84 8th grade students.  Should 17 students do poorly on a state standardized test, for whatever reason (poor at testing, no breakfast, special needs) we are already at 20% below proficiency for that grade level.

    But Morrisville is more than just numbers.

    In spite of the volatility in the costs to educate students and meet other mandated costs, our Board, staff and administration have supported programs which have yielded some remarkable results in the past few years alone:

    • Our athletes are PIAA District 1 Football (boys) and Girls Soccer champions this year, as well as BAL Bowler of the Year and Champion.
    • We have had 13 Future Business Leaders of America State awardees. Two FBLA students qualified and participated on the National level.
    • The return of Instrumental Music program has yielded a growth from 3 students in the program to over 40 in two years with a small but mighty marching band and color guard.
    • We have secured partnerships with Bucks County Playhouse, providing theater education to our 4th graders.
    • Smartboards have been purchased for use in each classroom, using proceeds from the sale of a defunct school building.
    • We have implemented $7.1m in energy upgrades, Electrical/Plumbing/HVAC renovations, while maintaining flat and lower debt service.
    • The Board has approved the hiring of Special Education teachers for Emotional Support and Learning Support programs and increased mental health supports by providing psychological services as well as in-school support counselors. This need is based on best practice as well as in response to emergent needs due to the unanticipated and dramatic increase in SE student enrollment 197 active IEP’s to 227 this year in 3 years)
    • Administration has developed partnerships with governmental entities (Bucks County Workforce Development Board) and post- secondary schools (BCCC), local businesses (Snipes Farm) to create and maintain learning opportunities in District, and provide work experiences for students in local industry.
    • We partner with Rotary Club (Morrisville Yardley) and Morrisville Opportunity Education Foundation (MOEF) to support the purchase of innovative instructional supplies and experiences, subsidize transportation to class trips, and provide grants and scholarships to students in need.
    • This year alone, our Fine Arts students have been featured in the Michener Art Museum Mural – A River Runs Through It; Selected to refurbish the Williamson Park Mural; and have participated in the VANS High School Custom Culture 2020 contest.
    • During the COVID-19 Pandemic: With the direct support of our small administrative team, our teachers quickly moved to build and implement Google Classrooms K-12, participating in online professional development and simultaneous provision of instructional materials for print to be distributed to our students without access.  Our teachers have also begun developing actions to implement the State’s Digital platform, as a resource to provide a more comprehensive Continuity of Education (CoE) for our students.
    • To help support our limited technological resources, the Bucks County Technical HS has donated 300 of their recently retired Chromebooks, and we have had community members donate funds to support the purchase of WiFi hotspots and devices to assist with providing equipment to the most critical of needs. We are grateful for this support.

    School Budgets are a constant source of strain and stress on any district.  However, in Morrisville, with its limited tax base and other streams of revenue, spikes in Special Education costs, and additional unfunded mandates put an even greater strain on an already strapped set of resources. The District often relies on the use of grants to support programs as previously mentioned.

    The Board wrestles with holding the line on taxes and complying with the mandates in State and Federal code.  The Board supports the school administration with guidance and input on decisions that impact overall operations and the implementation of student learning opportunities.

    I am appreciative of the efforts of our State and Federal Government officials for their collective advocacy on the behalf of our District’s children.

    Thank you.

    We continue to advocate for our children and community to anyone who will listen.


    Lastly, a few announcements:

     

    • The School Board Committees for Education and Policy will meet on Thursday, May 7. Policy Committee meets at 6:30pm and Education Committee meets at 7:30pm.  Details for the Zoom meeting invitations will be on the website Thursday morning.

     

    • The Morrisville Opportunity Education Foundation (MOEF) is accepting donations to help offset the purchase of additional Chromebooks and hotspots for our students. We are asking parents and community members to share the link to MOEF’s donation button. Please share the following link on your social media.

    https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=7A8EUS5V4JSAL&source=url

     

    • Students who still have medication at school: Medication pick up will be on Monday May 4th and Wednesday May 6th from 11-1 at high school.  Medication not picked up by Wednesday at 1 will be returned to high school nurse office till school opens again.  Please bring ID. 

     

    • WiFi in Morrisville Borough: in addition to the increased coverage in our campus parking lots, I have been informed that the Morrisville Public Library and the Morrisville United Methodist Church have public access points that reach outside of their building.

     

    • Comcast has extended its application deadline for Internet Essentials to June 30.

     

     

    Love. Respect. Space. Grace.

    Jason

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Superintendent Blog: April 26, 2020

    Posted by Jason Harris on 4/26/2020 6:00:00 PM

    Dear Morrisville Community,

     

    In my previous posts, I have attempted to keep a positive focus on what is happening in our District, as we respond to the challenges and changing guidance that we receive. Today’s post will not be so positive, and it is with a heavy heart that I write.  The Administration and Board have had to make some tough decisions and plan for several worst case scenarios, in compliance with State Code. I share them with you today, hoping for the best, yet preparing for the worst.

     

    Last week, I reported that we are aiming to move to planned instruction on or about May 1, 2020.  To support this effort, the Morrisville Board of School Directors approved the purchase of Chromebooks so that we could support all students with a device.  The funding for these devices was to be supported with Federal CARES Act dollars, as well as the State Equity Grant (CEEG).  Unfortunately, we do not have an indication when the CARES Act Dollars might arrive, and doubly unfortunate, our District has not been awarded the Equity Grant.  This information was received before Wednesday’s Board meeting, and was not well received by anyone on our team. In light of these setbacks, the Board decided to cancel the order for the Chromebooks. This decision was not made lightly; the considerations of using grant funding was the primary driver for the purchase.  Since the grant did not come through, the Board opted not to overspend on an already strained budget.

     

    Instead, the District will be distributing the Chromebooks it has, to those who have indicated that they do not have access to a computer.  This limited supply will be provided on a 2:1 basis in each household.  Individuals will be contacted when their device(s) are ready for pick-up.

     

    At Wednesday’s Board Meeting, the Board also discussed the 2020-2021 General Fund Budget.  You can find the presentation here. In short, our school budgets have been stressed by skyrocketing mandated costs like pension contributions, charter school tuition, and special education expenses.  Between these mandated costs that are increasing and our nominal operational cost increases, we are facing a deficit of approximately $1.5 million dollars, before any proposed tax increase.  This triad of mandated costs also stresses larger districts, but in a place like Morrisville, even the slightest variation above the budgeted amount can have drastic effects on our planning and implementation of programs and services.  By law, the Board must enact a balanced budget before June 30. This means that either cuts in expenses must be made to match revenues, or the Board must raise taxes (increase revenue) to meet the expenses.  Last year, the Board enacted a 6.3% tax increase to close the gap to cover these costs. 

     

    This year, the Board does not have the same option.   

     

    To close the nearly $1,500,000 gap between expenses and revenues, the Board has enacted an Economic Furlough Resolution.  (this means staff cuts) This resolution, although not binding at this time, puts many programs and activities in jeopardy. 

     

    Here is a brief list of the proposed cuts. It is my sincere hope that these cuts will not be enacted. 

     

    Assistant Principal,

    All kindergarten programming,

    All Athletics,

    Electives courses across the District,

    Fine Arts and Music programs,

    Media Specialist position,

    Pupil Support positions,

    4 Support staff positions,

    1 Administrative staff position.

     

    The Board has asked the Administration to be as judicious and balanced with the furloughs, and they touch every area of our District. No recommendations made are an attempt to reduce the ‘fat’ in our budget,as there is no ‘fat’.  (Hence why we didn’t buy the computers…) The proposed cuts are painful, tragic, and would impact programming in a very negative way.

     

    On Friday, School Board President Damon Miller and I participated in a call with Senator Santarsiero, Representative Warren, Representative Galloway, as well as representatives of Morrisville Borough. Since these cuts will impact much more than educational programming, we are collectively approaching this challenge with all available intellectual and political resources available. I hope to have more information as to a collective appeal to the Governor for additional funding, as well as updates on further developments as we look for other cost savings to balance the budget with fewer staffing cuts.

     

    If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me by email, jharris@mv.org or by phone, 215-736-5374.

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  • Superintendent Blog: April 19, 2020

    Posted by Jason Harris on 4/19/2020 6:00:00 PM

    Dear Morrisville Staff and Families,  

    I hope that this message finds you healthy and safe.  The past five weeks have been some of the most challenging in our modern history.  We have had to reinvent ways to feed and educate our children with resources that were designed with an in-person delivery method in mind.  Teachers are pushing themselves to support students in an emergency remote learning fashion.  Teaching is not easy in simpler times, and certainly no easier with the challenges and obstacles that this pandemic brings.  I have witnessed the creativity of teachers, staff, and administrators who strive to serve students and families in unique and innovative ways, with constraints previously unimagined.  From instructional packets day one, to interacting on a regular basis via Google Classroom and Zoom, our staff continues to amaze me at their tenacity and dedication to connecting with their students so that learning can continue. 

    We continue to work on ways for students to retrieve any belongings in their lockers or classrooms, and communication will be coming from the principals about this effort.  Please know that we must adhere to the social distancing requirements, and provide a reasonable amount of time to allow a quarantine for items that are touched by a staff member before the items are made available for pick up.  We are also working with our Senior Class to explore ways that we can celebrate the Class of 2020 in a manner that is both safe and appropriate. I will share more information when it becomes available.

    About two weeks ago, we submitted our District’s Continuity of Education (CoE) Plan to the PA Department of Education (PDE).  You can find a copy here.  In short, it details that our education plan, for the period of closure, would be ungraded, for enrichment/review purposes, highly encouraged, but not mandatory. That plan was submitted prior to the extension of the school closures through June 30. 

    Based on new information and guidance, our plan will be changing.

    Now that we are in a mandatory closure through June 30, we have been asked by PDE to move from enrichment and review activities to planned instruction, which includes daily attendance and grades.  To that end, the Morrisville Board of School Directors has approved the purchase of Chromebooks and a select number of Wi-Fi hotspots to give access to digital tools for learning.  This has been made possible through a grant-funded program.  It is our intent that this change in CoE plan will raise the level of participation of students, and give parents and teachers the means to keep our youngsters on track as they progress through school.  We will begin distributing existing Chromebooks to Grade 12 students and MS/HS students in danger of failing their current grade first, and then students who have no access to a either a computer, tablet or smartphone.  There is approximately a 40-day lead time to receive the new Chromebooks, so we ask for your patience as we distribute our existing resources to those who need it most.  It is our plan to offer a Chromebook to at least every district family K-11, with an intent of moving to a 1:1 device soon thereafter.

    We anticipate moving to planned instruction (grades/attendance) by May 1, 2020. This will allow our teachers to plan accrodingly. Current instruction will follow our current plan until we announce our new plan.

    Additionally, through an arrangement with PDE, our District will be making available digital resources, via the Odysseyware/Edgenuity platform. These additional resources will complement our existing Google Classroom resources, and give students the opportunity to participate on some level, in planned instruction before the Chromebooks are distributed.  The date for the release for this platform is yet to be determined, as we are working with the vendor and the Bucks County Intermediate Unit to prepare the student and teacher accounts and provide training to our staff.  You can learn more about this platform here.  Please be aware that PDE also offers non-digital learning tools through public television.  You can access links to that resource here.


    Here are a few announcements from the District:

     

    Student Meals:  Due to a staffing limitation, we are adjusting our feeding schedule.  Starting the week of April 20, our Food Service staff will distribute meals on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday ONLY.  On the days which meals are distributed, students will be given additional meals for the days we are not in service. For example: On Monday, 2 breakfasts and 2 lunches will be distributed (for Tuesday), etc.  Please note that packet pickup will not be available on Tuesday and Thursday because of this change.

     

    Medicine Pickup:  The nurse will be at the school on Tuesday 4/21 & Wednesday 4/22 between 11 am and 1 pm.  If you would like to pick up your child's medication, please email our school nurse at margenti@mv.org with the following - the day and whom is picking up the medication.  She will be outside MS/HS cafeteria.  You can drive /walk up to get medication.  Please bring identification.

     

    Email Accounts/MS Office 365: We are excited to announce that our Middle/Senior High School students now have access to their Morrisville Microsoft Office 365 Outlook email accounts.  Students can access their accounts and related information by navigating to the “Students” Tab in the main menu of our District website.  Additionally, please refer to Mr. Haines’ Principal’s Blog located on the Middle/Senior High School website for more detailed information.

     

    Google Classroom Access:  All login information for Google Classroom is listed with your child’s teacher and is also available on Genesis, our student information system.  If you need access to Genesis, please email Mrs. Burkhardt at mburkhardt@mv.org, or by calling 215-736-5937.

     

    Non-Digital Learning Options:  PDE has partnered with Public Television to provide instructional content for students. You can access links to that resource here, or check with your cable provider for the exact channel. Over-the-air (antenna HDTV) content can be viewed on channel 12-3.

     

    Classroom/locker item retrieval:  Our staff is working to empty lockers and desks, bagging and tagging the items, and making them available for pickup.  That process begins Monday, and families will be contacted with dates and times that they can come to retrieve their student’s belongings.  This is a time-consuming process, and as mentioned previously, we need to practice social distancing during the collection, and allow for proper quarantine of the items, to ensure the safe return of items collected.

     

    School Board News:  Our next School Board meeting will be held (virtually) on Wednesday, April 22 at 7:30 PM.  Information for Login/Call-in will be posted on the website and our Facebook Group page on the morning of the meeting.  Budget information presented at last week’s meeting can be found here.


    In closing, I write today to share both hope and concern.  

    Hope, in that I am confident that we will come out on the other side of this situation a stronger and wiser learning community.

    Concern, in that there as some who have access to resources which help keep them connected, while others have not received any of the communications our teams have shared.  It is my hope and desire to make sure staff, students, and their families have the access to the information, tools and resources that are available for learning. Our Board of School Directors has supported our collective efforts to support that goal, and I am grateful to them for their wisdom, input, and support.  

    If you know of anyone who may not be aware of our outreach, please share this communication with them.   If you have not done so already, I encourage you to follow this blog by registering on our website.  Doing so will allow you to subscribe to updates to our website, and give you the latest information available.

    As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call or email me.

    Stay well,

    Jason

     

    Jason B. Harris,

    Superintendent of Schools

    Love. Respect. Space. Grace.

     

     

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