Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pottsgroves Hires Shirk as New Superintendent

William Shirk
Acting Pottsgrove Schools Superintendent William Shirk has good reason to smile this morning.

That's because he woke up with the word "acting" removed from his title.

At the helm since August, the Pottsgrove School Board made it official, and unanimous, Tuesday night by granting Shirk a three-year contract.

The contract will be good through June 20, 2020 and he will be paid an initial salary of $178,000.

His predecessor, Shellie Feola, was paid $180,000 a year, but left under a cloud of controversy and contention.

Since he took the reins, Shirk has gone out of his way to reach out to the district's teachers and to make them partners and collaborators in efforts to improve the district's stagnant test scores.

He listed that among his three major goals for the year, taking the long-sought step of setting specific percentages his team is now aiming to hit or surpass.

Those include getting state scores for grades 3 through 8 at or above state average
in moth and English.

He has also set an increase in proficient/advanced scores from 29 percent to 40 percent as a goal for first-time takers of the Algebra 1 Keystone test in high school; an increase from 70 to 75 percent for first-time-takers of the Keystone Literature test and from 61 to 66 percent for those taking the Biology Keystone.

School Board President Matt Alexander was joined by board members Bill Parker and Rick Rabinowitz in thanking Shirk for finally giving them goals that can be easily measured.

His other goals include a balanced budget; improved training for teachers and improved and more timely communication with all "stakeholders."

Whether or not his short tenure and goals have been the driver behind improved transparency at board meetings -- including detailed agendas that put votes into understandable context -- they are evident nonetheless.

He has also formalized offering official, on -the-record responses to inquiries from board members at previous meetings; another thing for which Parker enthusiastically thanked Shirk.

It was a busy meeting, with a review of the coming budget, and the mixed impact a property tax elimination bill might have on finances in Pottsgrove and the purchase of photo-voltaic solar panels to cap off the energy-efficient high school renovation.

You can find out about all those things in the Tweets below.

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