Committee of the Whole Agenda 04-19-2018

Committee of the Whole Agenda 04-19-18

Update to 2017-2018 School Calendar

At the Committee of the Whole Meeting held on Thursday, April 19, 2018, the Board of School Directors approved the following revisions to the 2017-2018 school calendar:

Saturday, April 28, 2018 – Seniors Only, School in Session
Saturday, May 19, 2018 –
Seniors Only, School in Session
Friday, June 1, 2018
– Early Dismissal, Graduation
Monday, June 4, 2018 – School in Session (Grades K-11)
Tuesday, June 5, 2018 – Last Day for Students (Grades K-11), Early Dismissal
Wednesday, June 6, 2018 – Act 80 Day (Staff Only)

PSSA’s – Middle School

Dear Parent(s)/Guardian of BM Middle School Student:

The Blue Mountain School District will participate in the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) Program.  These tests measure the achievement of students across the Commonwealth in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science.  The testing dates for each of the assessments are given in the chart below.  Information concerning these assessments is provided on the attached Frequently Asked Questions sheet.

Test Grades Dates
PSSA English/Language Arts Grades 6, 7 & 8 4/9/18 – 4/11/18
PSSA Mathematics Grades 6, 7 & 8 4/17/18 – 4/18/18
PSSA Science Grade 8 4/24/18 – 4/25/18


These assessments provide achievement information for each individual student, and student score reports will be provided to parents.  The assessments also provide grade level, school level, and district level information which assists Blue Mountain in making curricular, instructional and teacher in-service decisions.

A state-level policy continues to be implemented this year that prohibits any student from having a cell phone or other electronic device while taking any of the PSSA assessments. We encourage students to leave their cell phones at home on testing days.  However, prior to beginning the tests each day, teachers will ask students to hand-in their cell phones.  The phones will be kept in a secure location until testing is completed for the day.  There are severe consequences for students found to be in possession of a cell phone during PSSA assessments.  Please read over the attached letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Education concerning electronic devices and discuss it with your child.

Please review the attached Code of Conduct for Test Takers with your child prior to the assessment.  If you have any questions about the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment Program, please contact me at (570) 366-0515, ext. 1028 or

Gwen Witmer-Belding, Director of Elementary and Secondary Education
Ltr Attachments

March 2018

Agenda 03-22-2018   Minutes Approved at March Board Meeting

Dear Parents, Students and Staff,

As all of you are aware, recently there has been a great deal of media attention brought to Blue Mountain School District. This attention was due to social media posts that took comments out of context and misrepresented our actual planned response to armed intruders (particularly with the planned use of stones). This unfortunate circumstance has increased our concern regarding the possibility that something may happen because of the media attention. Starting tomorrow and into the near future, we have arranged for additional armed security for our buildings. We will continue to reevaluate this situation moving forward. Please be assured, the safety of our students and staff is of paramount importance to us.

Thank you,
David Helsel, Ed.D
Superintendent of Schools

School Safety Address

Blue Mountain has been in the local and national media spotlight concerning portions of the emergency procedures for intruders. These procedures were called into question after stories about students throwing river stones were publicized. To bring focus to this issue, read some of the Frequently Asked Questions below.

What emergency guidelines have been established concerning intruders into our Blue Mountain schools?
Blue Mountain has established emergency security guidelines for intruders in our buildings that are outlined by the ALiCE Training Institute. ALiCE stands for Alert, Lock Down, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. This training calls for intruder emergencies to be handled in the following manner:
1. Inform all building occupants that there is an intruder in the building.
2. Alert the building occupants on where the intruder is in the building.
3. Teachers need to evaluate whether it is safe to Evacuate their students from the building.
4. Teachers who cannot evacuate their classes are to Lock Down their classrooms.
5. Students and teachers in locked down classrooms are to put up physical barricades. If the intruder gets past these barricades, all students are to Counter their entry by throwing items at the intruder to inflict as much damage as possible and protect themselves.

When will the river stones actually be used?
This is a last resort! Throwing river stones or other items will only be used if all other steps have been taken to avoid contact with an intruder.

Do all school buildings have security equipment?
Yes, all Blue Mountain Schools are equipped with intercom systems, emergency phone systems, walkie-talkies, surveillance equipment, and other security equipment. All classroom doors have been equipped with locking mechanisms.

Are classroom equipped with items to throw at an intruder?
Yes, all classrooms have buckets of river stones that students and faculty can throw at an intruder as a last level of defense against intruders.

Why not have students just hide in classrooms?
ALiCE guidelines suggest that students and faculty fight back against an intruder rather than wait passively for an intruder to attack.

Have teachers received training on procedures for building intruders?
Yes, a team of administrators and teachers received training through ALiCE. This team brought this training back to Blue Mountain and trained the remaining teachers and administrators.

Have students received training on procedures for building intruders?
Blue Mountain has held numerous training scenarios for students and some drills. Teachers have instructed their students on what to do in the case of a building intruder and drills have covered numerous different escape or Lock Down cases.


Please see our district Facebook page for additional information and a video further explaining our policies.

February 2018

Agenda 02-22-2018   Minutes Approved At February Board Meeting

January 2018

Agenda 01-25-2018   Minutes Approved at January Board Meeting

December 2017

Agenda 12-14-2017    Minutes Approved at December Board Meeting

November 2017

Agenda 11-16-2017     Minutes Approved at November Board Meeting