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New Kensington-Arnold School District board reviews academic programs

| Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, 12:42 a.m.

New Kensington-Arnold School District administrators and staff are reviewing several curriculum-related programs to ensure the district is maximizing their potential.

Board member Regina Namey said the education committee recently received updates on several initiatives including:

• The district's participation in the state Keystones to Opportunity grant; efforts to realign curriculum with new state standards;

• Involvement in cyber academies;

• Use of teacher aides in helping struggling students to address deficiencies.

Superintendent John Pallone said administrators so far are pleased with the results of the Keystones to Opportunity program, which provides reading services to three preschools in New Kensington and Arnold.

By helping the preschools standardize their reading programs, students are more prepared for kindergarten, Pallone said. He said they hope to apply for additional grant money from the United Way to extend the services to more preschools and continue a summer program as well.

Namey said district officials also will examine the two cyber programs in which the district is involved to see if they can be streamlined and better utilized.

Alternative education students who have behavioral problems and are educated separately from the rest of the secondary students use a computerized curriculum called Odyssey.

Meanwhile, teachers have been trained and are developing curriculum through the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit's eAcademy.

The academy primarily is aimed at students who otherwise would leave the district for an outside cyber program. Pallone said keeping students at a district-based cyber program keeps more state subsidy money within the district.

Pallone said there also may be opportunities to use the academy to supplement classroom activities and provide enrichment for advanced students.

Namey requested that Pallone meet with other administrators to determine whether additional Act 80 staff-development hours or days can be added to the school calendar so the curriculum council can continue work on implementing the new state standards.

Namey said extra hours were built into the school calendar to allow for weather delays. She hopes some of those hours can be used for staff development.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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