MARION CENTER — New language arts textbooks and related materials for students in the Marion Center Area School District from kindergarten through 12th grade will be used in the coming school year, after the school board voted at their Monday work session to approve the $250,000 purchase.
Directors Keith Isenberg and Lori Marshall voted against the purchase, saying the Common Core standards for Pennsylvania students may be changing, making the textbooks obsolete.
The administration previously recommended the textbooks, which will be replacing books from as far back as 1998. The purchase also includes six years’ worth of related materials for the elementary grades.
Charles Adamchik, the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, said language arts materials have previously been purchased piecemeal for each grade or class, and that this will organize the materials better. He also said they are more rigorous than the current books.
He said the textbooks are better suited for the Common Core standards in Pennsylvania, which go into affect this year.
Isenberg and Marshall pointed to ongoing political battles over the standards, and questioned why the district would purchase books before the dust has settled. But Superintendent Frank Garritano said the books are needed regardless. And board President Gregg Sacco said there will always be political battles over something, and that textbooks are a tool that can be adapted if the standards do change.
Isenberg and Marshall also pushed the administration on PSSA scores, asking that the district run its own analysis of the raw student scores and present them to the board rather than wait for the state to issue official AYP results.
“My concern is that when we calculate it, our calculation is different from the state,” Garritano explained, saying he was concerned that administrators would be “beat up” over low results that might not be correct. He said the state has certain formulas that it applies to the student scores, taking into account various variables.
But Isenberg countered that the board needed to know if the results were low before the fall, when the state numbers are issued, in order to take any necessary action.
Garritano agreed to provide estimates in July.
At the end of the session the board took a few minutes to honor John Stile, the retiring director of buildings and grounds who has worked for the district for 28 years.
“You’ve seen a lot, done a lot for the district,” Garritano told him. “I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and your willingness to tell me your opinion.”
Stiles countered that it was “honor and a privilege” to work for the district.
The board meets again Monday for its regular meeting, where members will vote to approve the budget for the coming school year.