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Duquesne school head approves comprehensive plan

| Friday, June 28, 2013, 12:11 a.m.

Duquesne City School District court-appointed receiver Paul B. Long gave his blessing to a school level comprehensive plan with two basic goals for educational improvements.

According to the agenda for Tuesday's receiver business meeting, Long, “acting as the board of directors,” approved the plan developed by a committee headed by outgoing acting superintendent Paul Rach.

Goal one is to “establish a system within the school that fully ensures consistent implementation of standards aligned curricula across all classrooms for all students.”

As part of the effort to achieve that goal, Long approved the hiring of Linda Nelson as an education consultant, at $400 a day for 100 days during the 2013-14 school year.

Rach said Nelson will train coaches and administrators. Her salary will be paid out of a state school improvement grant provided to Pennsylvania's lowest performing schools.

Goal two is to “establish a system within the school that fully ensures students who are academically at risk are identified early and are supported by a process that provides interventions based upon student needs and includes procedures for monitoring effectiveness.”

As part of that effort, eight teachers and administrators from Duquesne are attending a state Response to Instruction and Intervention Implementer's Forum through Thursday in Hershey.

Assistant principal Jennifer Jennings leads the DCSD delegation that includes special education director Debra Hensley, student services co-coordinator Martina Vitalbo, guidance counselor Monica Walker, fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Yocca, special education teacher Nancy Moore, art teacher Jacquelynn Oliver and instructional coach Michelle Kimmell.

Rach headed a planning committee that included his successor as acting superintendent, district transition coordinator Barbara McDonnell, as well as Long, Hensley, Jennings, Kimmell, Nelson, Duquesne Education Center principal Sharon McIntosh, technology specialist Jim Miller, Title I coordinator Nancy Olenik and school psychologist Sarah Switalski.

McDonnell is retaining the coordinator's role and other jobs she had with the district while taking on Rach's position.

The school level improvement plan is posted on the website.

A long list of contracts were renewed including pacts with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit for special education supervisory service and speech and language support services; public relation services; and Family & Community Education Services.

Other pacts approved by Long include a one-year contract with Nutrition Inc. for cafeteria services.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or