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Steel Valley aims to improve district test scores

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By Stacy Lee
Friday, March 1, 2013, 4:51 a.m.
 

Steel Valley administrators and school directors are devising a plan to improve district test scores.

“Part of what we ask is that we all have to be involved in this,” school board president Beth Cannon said this week. “The administration did a fantastic job with the plan we have going forward. We all have to do our part in making sure our kids get the best education and become successful.”

She said an education committee meeting organized and hosted by the administration and education staff several weeks ago “was a very educational and very positive four hours,”

Resident Kathy Ligeros said she attended part of the meeting.

“I was so inspired by everything they were doing,” she said.

Ligeros asked if meetings can be televised.

“If they're recorded,” Steel Valley director of academics, information and technology Ed Colebank said. “I don't think that one was recorded. I do have a PowerPoint that we can put on.”

Resident Paula Sculimbrene, who owns Munhall properties along Larkspur Street and along Twenty-First Street, said she was forced to move her 7-year-old son from Park Elementary in Munhall to Barrett Elementary in Homestead. She said she claimed residency at Larkspur Street, but told questioners that the family sleeps at the Twenty-First Street home.

“For everyone in the Steel Valley School District, your child goes to the elementary building (nearest) the address where they sleep,” Cannon said.

“When we arrived and I looked at (her son's) school information, he's at least five weeks ahead at Park Elementary than Barrett in first grade,” Sculimbrene said. “He's still ahead in math and it's been more than five weeks.”

She questioned how far Barrett students would be behind by the end of the school year.

When she questioned school officials, Sculimbrene said, they told her teachers can't move as quickly at Barrett due to students' behavior problems.

School Director Michael Terrick said he knows there is a disparity in education between the two schools.

“We are painfully aware of that,” he said. “That is why Barrett Elementary, of course, is on a deficient list.”

Terrick noted the enthusiasm teachers had at the education committee meeting.

“We're going to give them a chance to pick up that part of the district,” he said. “At some point in time, those kids merge. They merge at the middle school. That's where they need to be on the same level. They're not.”

Steel Valley Superintendent Ed Wehrer said he doesn't believe Barrett Elementary is five weeks behind Park.

Sculimbrene said she believes the district is segregating students because the majority of Barrett students are black and the majority of Park students are white.

“That's segregation at its finest,” she said. “Folks in lower economic status are not getting the same education. Why hasn't anybody spoken out about that?”

“Why does it have to come to a black-and-white issue?” School Director Donna Kiefer asked.

Barrett and Steel Valley High School are on the state Department of Education's list of low-achieving schools, based on 2012-13 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test results.

Stacy Lee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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