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PURCHASE LINE: School directors hire new superintendent

by JEREMY HARTLEY on November 05, 2013 11:00 AM

PURCHASE LINE — The Purchase Line school board hired Joseph A. Bradley as the new superintendent on Monday during a work session at the high school.

Bradley will serve a four-year term through Nov. 4, 2017, at an annual salary of $107,000.

“I first want to thank the community and thank the board for their vote of confidence in me,” Bradley said. “If the process during my candidacy is any indication of the professionalism of the district, I can say the process to choose the next superintendent was a very professional one, was very thought-out and very well planned. I think that when I was going through the process, I knew this was a district that I wanted to work with and work for.”

Bradley said he wants to spend his initial time as superintendent learning about the district, figuring out what the district’s priorities should be and working toward those priorities.

He spent the past several years working with cyber schools, serving as assistant director of special education for Pennsylvania Virtual Charter Schools in Norristown, where he worked with around 500 special education students. He also served as assistant director of special education with Commonwealth Connections Academy, a second cyber school in Harrisburg that served approximately 1,300 special education students. Prior to his work with cyber schools, he served as a principal in the North Star School District in Boswell for four years.

Bradley is taking over for Paul Gallagher, who has been acting superintendent since July.

Board President Mary Ann Pittman thanked Gallagher for his service, saying “he really did give up a lot postponing his retirement. I know I couldn’t have done it. We appreciate all of the time and effort you put in.”

“It really was a wonderful experience for me,” Gallagher added. “I want to congratulate Mr. Bradley. I think you’re going to really like it here, and I wish you the very best.”

Also Monday night, the board heard public comment regarding the handling of a recent fight between football players.

“We had this incident earlier this week with two of our players getting into an argument and a fight,” Purchase Line football player Royce Bish said during public comment time. “(Coach Brandon Overdorff) had nothing to do with that. That was between two of the players and he was not made aware of it. Some of the parents obviously didn’t get the story, because they said that he said that it was supposed to be swept under the table.”

High school Principal James Price said an incident in the locker room had been brought to his attention on Thursday. “Friday morning the coach called me at 7 (a.m.) and told me there was an incident,” Price said. “I told him I already knew, and Mrs. (Carol Putt-) Ayers (high school assistant principal) and I dealt with it.”

Price declined to make any further comments on the issue, citing student confidentiality.

Solicitor Ron Repak told those in attendance that, according to his and the board’s knowledge, no action would be taken that night or in the future regarding the position of football coach at Purchase Line. The statement drew applause from the more than one dozen football players and parents in attendance.

In other business, elementary school Principal Thomas Grierson reported that, thanks to the district’s partnership with Step By Step Learning, kindergarteners last year moved on to first grade at more than 90 percent proficient in reading. Over the course of the summer, by national averages, there is typically a 30 percent drop in proficiency between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next. The reading goal for first-graders is usually 60 percent to 70 percent. Purchase Line’s incoming first-graders came in at 72 percent, beating the national average.

“Those incoming first-graders,” Grierson said, “because of the work of our kindergarten teachers and in cooperation with Step By Step, have beaten the national average and we are starting, not in the hole, but ahead with reading proficiency in the first grade.”

Grierson also reported that Purchase Line is a step ahead of other districts in the state in piloting the Danielson model for teacher evaluations, a model that has been adopted statewide.

The Danielson framework for teaching, according to the Danielson Group website, is “a research-based set of components of instruction, grounded in a constructivist view of learning and teaching.”

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