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There's a lot new this year in Valley schools

| Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
With construction in the final phases at the Kiski Area Upper Elementary School, State Police Sgt. Ryan Maher, left, and principal Joshua Weaver do a site familiarization tour for security purposes at the entrance of the North Washington school on Thursday, August 15, 2013.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
With construction in the final phases at the Kiski Area Upper Elementary School, State Police Sgt. Ryan Maher, left, and principal Joshua Weaver do a site familiarization tour for security purposes at the entrance of the North Washington school on Thursday, August 15, 2013.

Allegheny Valley

• First day: Junior-Senior High and Colfax, Monday, Aug. 26; Acmetonia, Tuesday, Aug. 27

• Enrollment: 997

• Lunch prices: Acmetonia and Colfax, $2; Junior-Senior High, $2.25; unchanged

• District phone: 724-274-5300

• District website:

• What's new: Colfax Upper Elementary and Acmetonia Primary schools have updated computer labs. New technology also includes more interactive whiteboards and upgraded network switches at Acmetonia.

At the junior-senior high school, new courses in multi-media education will be offered in seventh and eighth grades. New computers were added to the media production lab to support the classes. Additional technology at the high school includes a new mobile lab and several interactive whiteboards.

An autistic classroom will become part of the school, as every building now supports autistic classes. A $20,000 grant will go toward environmental education.

Resurfacing work on the path at Acmetonia and the curbs in front of the junior-senior high school has been finished.

The district will start using an identification system at the entrances to all buildings. Visitors will have to provide identification that will be scanned into the system, which will create an individualized photo identification for the building. The elementary buildings also will begin a closed lunch procedure for the school year.


• First day: Monday, Aug. 26

• Enrollment: 1,300

• Lunch prices: Elementary, $2.25; secondary, $2.50; unchanged

• District phone: 724-478-6000

• District website:

• What's new: Travis Barta has been promoted to middle school principal and district curriculum coordinator. Courtney Anderson has been promoted to elementary principal.

A new high school course, “A-R Inc.,” is a collaboration between the business and technology departments. Students will develop company models, product selection, fiscal projections and marketing strategies. Products will be designed and produced when possible through the technology department.

Seniors will take part in a senior seminar focusing on post-secondary education and preparing for life after high school.

The elementary school and its Parent-Teacher Association are starting the “A-Re You Making a Difference?” program. Photos will be taken of students holding white boards saying what they did to make a difference in their school and community. Pictures will be displayed in the halls and used in the yearbook.

The district's automated calling system will be used to notify parents of student absences.

The middle school will have additional lab periods for many math, science, and English classes.

A program started in the spring will give parents the opportunity to manage their child's cafeteria accounts online through the My School Bucks program. Information is available on the district's website. Participation is not required.

The district will continue to have a school resource officer on campus throughout the school year. An on-duty Kiski Township police officer is stationed at the schools.

Visitors will need to have an appointment. The track and fitness field will be closed to the public during school hours.


• First day: Thursday, Aug. 22

• Enrollment: 5,338

• Lunch prices: Elementary, $2.25; secondary, $2.50

• District phone: 724-763-5200

• District website:

• What's new: Ground has been broken at the location of the new junior-senior high school at Buffington Drive in Manor Township, and site work is proceeding according to schedule.

As students return to school for 2013-14, the initial work on the foundation and utilities will be occurring in preparation for the erection of the steel superstructure. The building complex will be constructed in seven phases, with the building expected to be completed by summer 2015. At that time, the district will finalize its secondary school consolidation plan.

Curriculum listings are now on the district website, where parents can see the student curriculum in grades K-12.

The district will begin Keystone and PSSA after-school tutoring in October for secondary and elementary students.


• First day: Tuesday, Sept. 3

• Enrollment: 1,825

• Lunch prices: Elementary, $1.90; secondary, $2.20; unchanged.

• District phone: 724-334-1406

• District website:

• What's new: Elementary students will be using new textbooks in math to align with changes in the state curriculum, which moves the focus from teacher-led instruction to a more interactive, hands-on, problem-solving approach. The robotics program also will be expanded into fifth grade at Stewart Elementary School.

The district will buy more Google Chromebooks (fast, inexpensive notebook computers) through the Bill McGuire Memorial Fund. Technology upgrades have occurred throughout the district.

Students can bring their own technology devices for educational use, and the district is moving toward the use of Google Apps.

The entrances of Stewart, Bon Air and the high schools were upgraded to be more secure. Work to improve the acoustics and appearance of the high school gymnasium is under way, as is a project to replace the windows at Stewart. During the fall, improvements to the high school media center are anticipated.

Deer Lakes

• First day: Monday, Aug. 26

• Enrollment: 1,942

• Lunch prices: Curtisville and East Union, $2.10; middle and high school, $2.30; both increased 10 cents

• District phone: 724-265-5300

• District website:

• What's new: At the high school, the district's maintenance department renovated the auditorium stage this summer. A new SAT prep class will be available during the school day, and an anatomy and physiology class will be available online.

At East Union Intermediate Center, additional technology, including smart televisions and computers, have been added to classrooms; a reading garden has been created with a grant from PPG; and there are new third-grade science books.

The district received a $5,000 “Pirate Field for Kids” grant from Pittsburgh Pirate Charities that will be used to renovate the surface of the high school baseball field.

Technology Director Angelo Furiga also will assume the duties of curriculum coordinator.

Fox Chapel Area

• First day: Thursday, Aug. 22

• Enrollment: 4,269

• Lunch prices: Elementary, $2.10; secondary, $2.25; unchanged

• District phone: 412-963-9600

• District website:

• What's new: Matthew Harris, former principal of Dorseyville Middle School, is now the district's coordinator of instruction, staff development and secondary curriculum, replacing Shelley Beck. Former Assistant Principal Jonathan Nauhaus has been named acting principal at Dorseyville.

Rebecca Stephan, a former assistant principal at Pine-Richland Middle School, is principal of Fairview Elementary School, replacing Sari McNamara.

Rachel Fischbaugh, a former assistant principal at Carson Middle School in the North Allegheny School District, is principal at Hartwood Elementary School, replacing Jacquelyn Gregory-Rauzan.

The district has upgraded its online student and parent portal to access student progress and grade information. The new PowerSchool portal replaces Edline and provides real-time progress monitoring and attendance information.

There is a new elementary language arts program for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Seventh-graders at Dorseyville Middle School will take part in new project-based learning experiences using district-provided iPads. The program begins in January.

The district is preparing for renovations at the high school. They will include breakout areas for science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine; an expanded multimedia center, an expanded STEMM focus for technology education, and a new swimming pool.

A full-time cyber school program will be piloted for high school students.

Science courses have been created to help students succeed on the biology Keystone Exam. Existing courses have been changed to better align with new standards.

The high school music department has added two courses: world music and history of rock 'n' roll.

Franklin Regional

• First day: Monday, Aug. 26

• Enrollment: 3,640

• Lunch prices: Elementary, $2.05; middle and high school, $2.35; both up 10 cents

• District phone: 724-327-5456

• District website:

• What's new: The district is beginning the year with many new staff members, including Superintendent Jamie Piraino and Assistant Superintendent Mary Catherine Reojac. The district also hired 23 new teachers and has new support staff and maintenance workers.

The district is searching for a new middle school principal.

The district is beginning to integrate more technology into its elementary schools and is looking to increase the use of mobile technology. At the middle school, interactive whiteboards will be added to social studies, English and math classrooms.

The district is continuing a “bring your own device” program at the high school, which allows students to bring their own computer and computer devices to school.

The district is expanding its online learning program at the high school level.

Freeport Area

• First day: Wednesday, Aug. 28

• Enrollment: 1,977

• Lunch prices: All students, $2.75; 25-cent reduction

• District phone: 724-295-5141

• District website:

• What's new: Freeport Area High School will offer a select number of “early bird” courses that will be offered before the official start of the school day. They are designed to provide flexibility to a student's schedule for students who want to take an additional course that may have conflicted with other desired or required courses in their regular schedule.

The high school also will offer three College in High School courses. Students who participate will receive a University of Pittsburgh transcript, college credits and hands-on experience with college-level work. Courses include basic physics for science and engineering, computer programming in the Visual Basic language, and argument, rhetoric and communication.

The high school curriculum has been expanded to include new courses with an emphasis on science, technology, engineer and math (STEM) education. Courses include Advanced Placement biology, human anatomy and physiology, astrophysics and the cosmos, basic physics for science and engineering, computer programming in the Visual Basic language, meteorology and climatology, and general fitness and nutrition.

Public speaking will be a required semester course for students.


• First day: Wednesday, Aug. 28

• Enrollment: 2,550

• Lunch prices: K-5, $1.95; middle and high school, $2.20; unchanged

• District phone: 724-226-2400

• District website:

• What's new: Michael Bjalobok begins his first full school year as superintendent. He came to the district in March.

Parents and visitors will follow new security procedures when visiting Fawn and Fairmount primary centers and Grandview Upper Elementary School. Visitors will first identify themselves to enter a waiting lobby, where they will wait for school personnel to assist them. Visitor traffic into the building will be minimized.

The high school launches a “STEAMM Academy” this year. Students will be able to earn as many as 23 college credits upon graduation from high school in science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics and medicine studies. There is no cost to enroll in the academy.

Leechburg Area

• First day: Wednesday, Aug. 28

• Enrollment: 828

• Lunch prices: Elementary, $2.35; secondary, $2.40; unchanged

• District phone: 724-842-7701

• District website:

• What's new: The district is continuing its search for a superintendent to replace James Budzilek. Frank Prazenica Jr. is serving as interim superintendent.

In the area of school safety, the district plans to hire a director of school safety, and has created new visitor management stations at the central office and elementary school entrances.

The district is running its own cafeteria program beginning this fall, with consulting help from the Highlands School District.

The district's technology is now fully wireless.

New Kensington-Arnold

• First day: Wednesday, Aug. 28

• Enrollment: 2,200

• Lunch prices: Elementary, $1.60; secondary, $1.65;6.1 percent increase

• District phone: 724-335-4401

• District website:

• What's new: Most kindergarteners will be in class for only a half-day this school year, a move that is expected to help free up classroom space and teachers for other elementary grades. Officials are seeking grant money to create a liaison position for a teacher to work with kindergarten students at area day-care centers during the half-day the kids aren't in school.

Several facilities upgrades occurred over the summer, including paving, roof repairs, a new telephone and communications system, and a new energy-management system.

The secondary alternative-education program will be converted to a distance-learning environment. Instead of students using an online program in a high school classroom, they instead will use the cyber program from home with a district teacher facilitating. The move is aimed at freeing up a classroom and a teacher as well as reducing disruptions for alternative-education students who often have behavioral and emotional problems.


• First day: Monday, Aug. 26

• Enrollment: 3,989

• Lunch prices: Elementary, $2.15; secondary, $2.50; unchanged

• District phone: 412-795-0100

• District website:

• What's new: Complementary and discounted admissions to athletic events, including “Gold Cards” for senior citizens, no longer will be offered.

The district has a new emergency and absence notification system, Facebook page and data center. New student equipment includes 80 iPads for special education and at Holiday Park, and 90 Chromebooks at Oblock.

Adlai Stevenson Elementary students will attend classes at the former Pivik Elementary on School Road. School Road, which connects Old Leechburg Road and Center-New Texas Road, is now one-way to accommodate school bus and vehicle traffic.

Adlai Stevenson has been demolished, and construction of the new Holiday Park Elementary is under way.

The district has 12 new teachers, five new custodians, three new bus drivers and a new high school security guard.

Pivik students will participate in a new positive behavior plan. They will learn how to “fill buckets” by building strong, positive relationships with students, staff and family members.

At Center, with the support of the Parent-Teacher Association, the math committee is developing a math incentive program to recognize students for accomplishing important math benchmarks at each grade level.

Regency Park has a new “STEAM” lab.

At Oblock, early American history has replaced world geography in the eighth-grade curriculum.

The high school and district have adopted a new truancy elimination plan.

High school students are now allowed to carry drinks in the halls and in classrooms at the discretion of teachers. Students will be asked to use only closeable or sealable containers.

The high school cafeteria will start a new vending option after school for students in extra-curricular activities. “After School Fuel” will allow students the option of a healthy snack before their activity.


• First day: Thursday, Aug. 22

• Enrollment: 1,036

• Lunch prices: Elementary, $2.25; secondary, $2.50; unchanged

• District phone: 412-828-1800

• District website:

• What's new: The district is welcoming two new administrators — Ashley Coudriet, director of curriculum and customized services, started in July; new Business Manager Tammy Tuccarello starts Monday.

The junior-senior high school will start the day four minutes earlier, at 7:41 a.m., as part of a schedule adjustment to give more homeroom time. A teacher certified in music and physical education will teach a new dance and music course.

A new class for seventh-grade students will expand upon the district's transition program, which helps students with the move from sixth grade. The 21st Century learning course will be held two days a week and covers issues such as study skills, planning, teamwork and higher-level thinking.

South Butler

• First day: Wednesday, Aug. 28

• Enrollment: 2,500

• Lunch prices: Elementary, $2.10; high school, $2.35; unchanged

• District phone: 724-352-1700

• District website:

• What's new: The high school is offering a robotics course that culminates with students participating in a robotics competition. Students learn and use computer science, engineering, math and other concepts while building a remote-controlled robot. The district piloted the course last school year.

The district also is running its own Life Skills Support Class at the high school. The class provides educational and other services for developmentally disabled students. It had been run by the Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV.

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