Alle-Kiski Valley schools: What's new this year

| Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, 12:12 a.m.
Laila Metz, 5, shows Bridget Trabbold and McKenzie Smail, seniors, how to do a split. The annual staff Welcome Back Day for Riverview School District includes the traditional introduction of members of the Class of 2030 by this year's seniors, the Class of 2018.
Lillian DeDomenc | For The Tribune-Review
Laila Metz, 5, shows Bridget Trabbold and McKenzie Smail, seniors, how to do a split. The annual staff Welcome Back Day for Riverview School District includes the traditional introduction of members of the Class of 2030 by this year's seniors, the Class of 2018.
Sixth-grader Zach Buchanich and his mother, Jeanine, attend a Google Chromebook training session Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2017 at Deer Lakes Middle School in West Deer.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Sixth-grader Zach Buchanich and his mother, Jeanine, attend a Google Chromebook training session Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2017 at Deer Lakes Middle School in West Deer.
Riverview kindergarten teacher Lori Brickner greets two of her incoming students, Bo Lippert, and his twin brother Jesse, both 5, at the annual staff Welcome Back Day on Wednesday, Aug. 16. The event included the traditional introduction of members of the Class of 2030 by the high school's seniors, the Class of 2018.
Lillian DeDomenc | For The Tribune-Review
Riverview kindergarten teacher Lori Brickner greets two of her incoming students, Bo Lippert, and his twin brother Jesse, both 5, at the annual staff Welcome Back Day on Wednesday, Aug. 16. The event included the traditional introduction of members of the Class of 2030 by the high school's seniors, the Class of 2018.
Sixth-grader Noah Condle and his father, Brian, attend a Google Chromebook training session Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2017 at Deer Lakes Middle School in West Deer.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Sixth-grader Noah Condle and his father, Brian, attend a Google Chromebook training session Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2017 at Deer Lakes Middle School in West Deer.
The annual staff Welcome Back Day for Riverview School District includes the traditional introduction of members of the Class of 2030 by members of this year's seniors, the Class of 2018. Laila Metz, 5, sits with her mom, Melissa, anxiously awaiting her turn during the orientation program.
Lillian DeDomenc | For The Tribune-Review
The annual staff Welcome Back Day for Riverview School District includes the traditional introduction of members of the Class of 2030 by members of this year's seniors, the Class of 2018. Laila Metz, 5, sits with her mom, Melissa, anxiously awaiting her turn during the orientation program.
Deer Lakes School District library media specialist Christina Beaufort packs up a new Google Chromebook for sixth-grader Ethan Alberta on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2017, at Deer Lakes Middle School in West Deer.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Deer Lakes School District library media specialist Christina Beaufort packs up a new Google Chromebook for sixth-grader Ethan Alberta on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2017, at Deer Lakes Middle School in West Deer.
Deer Lakes School District library media specialist Christina Beaufort distributes new Google Chromebooks on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2017, at Deer Lakes Middle School in West Deer.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Deer Lakes School District library media specialist Christina Beaufort distributes new Google Chromebooks on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2017, at Deer Lakes Middle School in West Deer.

The new school year opens this week for most Alle-Kiski Valley school districts, and students will return see new faces, new curricula and in some cases, major school renovations.

Apollo-Ridge and Riverview are first to open the school year, on Tuesday. Highlands will be the last to start, Aug. 31.

Each school district reports that students will be exposed to more rigorous programs involving science, technology and math and upgraded hardware and software.

Here's a look at what new for 2017-18 at the Valley's dozen school districts:

Allegheny Valley

Main phone number: 724-274-5300

Website:avsdweb.org

Enrollment: 912

First day of school: Monday, Aug. 28

Lunch prices: Acmetonia Primary and Colfax Upper Elementary, $2.50; Springdale Junior-Senior High School, $2.75; no increase.

What's new: Construction on a 14-classroom addition will begin this fall at Acmetonia Primary School in Harmar. It will house fourth through sixth grades from Colfax Upper Elementary School and is expected to be ready for the 2018-19 school year.

At Colfax, an engineering-based course including science, technology and math that had been piloted in the 2016-17 school year will be a regular course.

The district's high school will enter the third year of its one-to-one iPad initiative; all students in grades 9-12 will be issued a district-owned iPad. Two iPad carts will be added for the elementary buildings.

The district has started an online registration program, through which parents can access and complete forms online and update information such as address changes, phone numbers and emergency contact information.

Apollo-Ridge

Main phone number: 724-478-6000

Website: apolloridge.com

Enrollment: 1,225

First day of school: Tuesday, Aug. 22

Lunch prices: Elementary lunch, $2.45; secondary lunch, $2.70; no increase.

What's new: Students in the technical education program will work with a new computer-controlled cutting machine known as a CNC router.

The district promoted its business manager, Jennie Ivory, to assistant superintendent/chief financial officer.

This summer the district was awarded a $20,000 grant from Arconic (formerly Alcoa) to create a “maker space” for collaborative invention as part of the district's STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) educational program.

The district will offer special education training for parents so they can better understand the education provided to their children.

Burrell

Main phone number: 724-334-1406

Website:burrell.k12.pa.us

Enrollment: 1,802

First day of school: Wednesday, Aug. 23

Lunch price: Bon Air and Stewart elementary, $2.35; Huston Middle School, $2.60; Burrell High School, $2.70; 10-cent increase.

What's new: “Maker spaces” have been established for grades 4-12. Superintendent Shannon Wagner said the spaces “are designed to promote creative thinking and the design process

The school has a new, full-time athletic director, Drake D'Angelo, and a new assistant high school principal, Carla Roland. Greg Egnor will serve as the director of student services and Jim Croushore will be the new Stewart Elementary principal.

Deer Lakes

Main phone number: 724-265-5300; 888-709-4115

Website:deerlakes.net

Enrollment: 1,927

First day of school: Thursday, Aug. 24

Lunch prices: Curtisville and East Union, $2.70; middle and high school, $2.95; 10-cent increase.

What's new: Each middle school student will get a Google Chromebook. The middle school will have a new innovation center in the former library.

The district has adopted the College Board grading scale in grades 6-12.

Advanced Placement courses are offered in robotics and engineering, psychology, computer science principles and U.S. history. The Zulama Gaming Series is expanding with courses called “Game Maker Programming II” and “3D Modeling II.”

A “Revamped Recess” program will start at Curtisville Primary Center. The program will give students more structure and more organized areas to exercise and play.

With “FitnessGram,” students in grades 3-8 will be assessed in 12 fitness areas.

The district's counselors will fully implement a new counseling plan focusing on college and career readiness. High school sophomores will be required to participate in a job shadowing experience.

Fox Chapel Area

Main phone number: 412-963-9600

Website:fcasd.edu

Enrollment: 4,039

First day of school: Tuesday, Aug. 29

Lunch price: Elementary students, $2.55; secondary, $2.85; no increase.

What's new: The district has a new elementary science, technology, engineering, arts and math curriculum.

A mobile “Fab Lab” high school students built in a tiny house in the spring will be taken to district elementary schools and other districts.

Dorseyville Middle School underwent several renovations over the summer, including a new driveway. Ongoing renovations inside are expected to be finished in early fall.

Upgrades at Fairview Elementary include the office area and front entry, and adding air conditioning to the gym, will also be finished in the early fall.

Upgrades at O'Hara Elementary will be ongoing throughout the school year and expected to finish in September 2018.

Construction of a new Kerr Elementary School is scheduled to start in spring 2018, and open in the fall or winter of 2019. Students will stay in the existing school while the new building is built on the same property.

Freeport Area

Main phone number: 724-295-5141

Website:freeport.k12.pa.us

Enrollment: 1,887

First day of school: Thursday, Aug. 24

Lunch price: South Buffalo and Buffalo Elementary schools, $2.65; Freeport Area Middle and Freeport Area High schools, $2.75; no increase.

What's new: Through a partnership with the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, the district has new Makerspaces in its elementary schools. Makerspaces are lab spaces that expose students to project and problem-based work, concepts of pre-engineering and robotics.

There will be a new cyber-security program at the high school. The program is a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh and the FBI. Students can earn up to 12 college credits and a certificate.

The district is expanding its robotics programming to include middle school students and ninth-graders. The courses expose students to coding and programming, as well as building actual robots and being introduced to motors, hydraulic power, and other concepts.

Highlands

Main phone number: 724-226-2400

Website:goldenrams.com

Enrollment: 2,525

First day of school: Thursday, Aug. 31

Lunch price: Free for all students.

What's new: In kindergarten through eighth grade, students are moving to a new series in math and in reading.

Grandview Upper Elementary has a new playground.

The middle school will have a technology specialist who will teach about new applications and devices.

At the high school, students will have a flexible period focused on instruction and activities.

The district is improving Wi-Fi, computer devices and instructional apps.

Kiski Area

Main phone number: 724-845-2022

Website: kiskiarea.com

Enrollment: 3,653

First day of school: Thursday, Aug. 24

Lunch price: Elementary, $2.60; high school, $2.70; 5-cent increase.

What's new: The new athletic stadium at the high school is expected to be finished this school year.

Leechburg Area

Main phone number: 724-845-7701

Website:leechburg.k12.pa.us

Enrollment: 723

First day of school: Wednesday, Aug. 30

Lunch price: Elementary, $2.70; secondary, $2.85; 10-cent increase

What's new: Doug Rodgers will start as the new high school and middle school principal.

The district's sixth, seventh and eighth grades will have their own section of the secondary building.

Kindergarten students will now attend all-day instead of half-day.

New Kensington-Arnold

Main phone number: 724-335-4401

Website:nkasd.com

Enrollment: 1,953

First day of school: Thursday, Aug. 24

Lunch price: Free for all students.

What's new: New Kensington-Arnold spent the summer focusing on maintenance and improvements.

Students at Hunt Elementary will find new floors have been laid, while students at the high school have a new cafeteria. It's now more like a mall food court.

Students will also notice some missing faces — the district has furloughed 12 teachers due to shrinking enrollment.

Plum

Main phone number: 412-795-0100

Website: pbsd.k12.pa.us

Enrollment: 4,100

First day of school: Tuesday, Aug. 29

Lunch price: Elementary, $2.45; junior and senior high, $2.70; 10-cent increase

What's new: The high school is adding a makerspace and virtual reality lab.

The school's STEM education offerings will add computer science courses, a mobile maker lab, a “grow room,” robotics and aquaponics labs.

Elementary schools are introducing a new anti-bullying program, Second Steps.

Riverview

Main phone number: 412-828-1800

Website:rsd.k12.pa.us

Enrollment: 990

First day of school: Tuesday, Aug. 22

Lunch price: Elementary, $2.25 ; secondary, $2.50

What's new: 2017-2018 marks the first full school year of the district's involvement in the League of Innovative Schools. It enables district personnel to collaborate with others on innovative learning and instruction.

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