Back-to-school stories, teacher layoff laws & Google ed tech training: 5 things to know today
Summer is almost over, and the TribLIVE Education Team is getting ready to head back to school!
Throughout August, we'll be covering move-in days at colleges and first days back in action at K-12 schools across the Greater Pittsburgh area. We want to know what students and parents are looking forward to.
Tell us your back-to-school story by Tweeting with the hashtag #B2Strib or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't forget to follow the TribLIVE Education Team on Twitter:
•Emily Balser @emilybalser (Valley News Dispatch newsroom)
•Debra Erdley @deberdley_Trib (Greensburg newsroom)
•Natasha Lindstrom @NewsNatasha (Pittsburgh newsroom)
•Jamie Martines @Jamie_Martines (Greensburg newsroom)
Here are five things you need to know about education today.
1. SCHOOL CODE: Lawmakers passed a bill Thursday that includes a variety of changes to the school code, including a provision that would allow school districts to lay off teachers and administrators for “economic reasons.” Furloughs would be based on evaluations and performance ratings.
The bill will now go back to the House of Representatives to approve Senate changes.
Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President Nina Esposito-Visigitis said that the union is strongly opposed to the provisions.
“Teacher evaluations should be used to help teachers improve their craft,” Esposito-Visigitis said in a statement. “They should not be used in a debate about economic furloughs.”
2. GOOGLE: Google and a global network of education experts have chosen 11 Western Pennsylvania schools to be part of a national effort to train teachers how to use technology more effectively.
Google partnered with California-based EdTechTeam Inc. and educational nonprofit Digital Promise to develop the Dynamic Learning Project, an initiative to cultivate personalized ed tech coaches at 50 “under-served” middle schools across the United States.
• Pittsburgh Public Schools: King Pre K-8, Pittsburgh Langley K-8 and Pittsburgh Schiller 6-8;
• Penn Hills: Linton Middle School;
• Cornell: Cornell High School;
• Northgate: Northgate Middle/High School
• Gateway: Gateway Middle School;
• Highlands: Highlands Middle School;
• Carlynton: Carlynton Junior/Senior High School;
• Yough: Yough Intermediate Middle School; and
• McGuffey: McGuffey Middle School.
3. MIDDLE SCHOOL: It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. And starting this school year, middle schoolers in the Leechburg Area School District will have a space of their own in which to ride out their sixth, seventh and eighth grade years.
Leechburg isn't the only area district to take on the middle school experience this school year. The Hempfield Area School District, for example, is starting a new middle school program this fall. Derry Area School District was honored for efforts to improve the middle school experience earlier this year.
Experts say that efforts to restructure middle school are part of a broader trend in education to put more emphasis on the social and emotional development of students, while easing pressure to perform on standardized tests.
4. SCHOOL BOARD NEWS: The Plum School Board voted 8-0 on Tuesday to acquire a $1.5 million line of credit with S&T Bank. District business manager John Zahorchak said the credit is a cushion until tax revenue starts rolling in August, and is good to have while state legislators work on a budget, reports Michael DiVittorio for TribLIVE.
The Woodland Hills School Board unanimously agreed Thursday to raise teachers' starting salary to $39,550, a move the teachers' union said will make the district more competitive with other districts in the county.
The agreement with the Woodland Hills Education Association also increases salaries for teachers who have worked with the district between seven and 11 years, a group that makes up the majority of the district's teacher workforce, association President Adam Forgie said.
Teachers will contribute more for health care under the agreement.
5. SHADY SIDE ACADEMY: The private school has hired Judi Williams, a former history and political science teacher at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn., as the first director of equity, inclusion and community relations at the school's Fox Chapel and Point Breeze campuses.
Williams will be responsible for supporting the development of an inclusive and multicultural curriculum and support the recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-850-2867, email@example.com or on Twitter @Jamie_Martines.