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Westmoreland waived tuition for students

Posted on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 1:46 pm

By Nathaniel Cline
Staff writer

Westmoreland County Public Schools will be in competition for students this year after waiving tuition costs for potential transfer students. This comes in the wake of local school boards approving to waive their fees as pointed out by Superintendent Rebecca Lowry during the monthly school board acting on Monday.
“We’re just trying to match what others are doing so that we’re making a system of equity,” Lowry said.
This move also avoids having to establish a billing system, Lowry explained, adding that if parents or guardians are unable to meet the demand, students would be subject to disenrollment.
At Monday’s meeting, Lowry also wished to apologize to her staff after a Blue Cross Blue Shield representative confirmed a mass error for everyone’s prescription drug coverage including her own.
In a letter from Blue Cross, Lowry said that the company apologized for the major system error impacting all of the school division employees under health coverage.
Cathy Rice, director of instruction, reported that a total of 566 attended the extended session (summer school) following two days after the 2012-2013 ended. This was an increase in the number of students compared to last year’s 370 students racking up a cost savings of $85,000. While the day was extended in comparison to last year for the students, Rice pointed out that contracts were looked at to lower the operating costs.
There was also a disparity in the number of students that attended the extended session by 27 percent. Something Lowry said her staff continues to be challenged with the matter
“We do everything we can to get them to come and we get all types of excuses,” Lowry said. “But with this new method I think we did really good.”
The school board approved of the five-year Gifted Education Plan to aid students in grades PreK-12, as presented by Rice.
In the past several years, students in the school division have attended a number of gifted education programs such as Advanced Language Arts to Governor’s School. Most notably, students have won state and national awards for their work in the Problem Solvers program.
The school division has a total of 112 gifted students, Rice said.
“It’s important to have one in any school division,” Rice stated, adding that this will go along with the five-year strategic plan approved last month.
This comes after approximately a year of work sessions and committee meetings.
Lowry was excited about the approval of the plan and the five-year capital improvement plan that consists of potential renovations and a new high school. Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates, discussed the facilities assessment report earlier on Monday during a work session.
“We’re excited about all three plans,” Lowry said. “We’re pleased with our progress and want to keep working as hard as we can to give our students every opportunity anyone else would have.”
About the Five-year Strategic Plan: The approved plan provides details to the board’s purpose, mission and priorities for the next five years including the five strategic priorities—student achievement: raise the level of academic challenge and achievement of each student; human resources: recruit, retain, develop and support highly qualified teachers and staff; community involvement: improve family engagement, public understanding and support of schools; school culture: provide a school environment supportive of teaching and learning; and school facilities: provide an accessible, safe and healthy learning environment that reflects the needs of all students.
The mission of the plan is to “provide an outstanding education for students, in partnership with parents and the community, the foster integrity and academic achievement, while providing the life skills that help students compete in a global economy and become successful citizens.”
Vision statement: to empower all students to achieve academic excellence, develop exemplary character, and make choices that result in a safe and healthy life.