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Alle-Kiski schools prepare for resumption of classes

| Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Ben Edwards, a special education and learning support teacher at Valley Junior-Senior High School, unpacks boxes and readies his classroom while watching his three children, Beau, 2, Macey, 7, and Brock, 5, at the New Kensington school on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016.
Eric Felack | Tribune-Review
Ben Edwards, a special education and learning support teacher at Valley Junior-Senior High School, unpacks boxes and readies his classroom while watching his three children, Beau, 2, Macey, 7, and Brock, 5, at the New Kensington school on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016.

Here's a look at what's new in the Alle-Kiski Valley's schools as students begin heading back to the classrooms:

Allegheny Valley

First day: Wednesday, Aug. 24

Enrollment: 970

Lunch prices: Primary and elementary, $2.50; high school, $2.75; 25-cent increase

District phone: 724-274-5300

Website: www.avsdweb.org

What's new: Acmetonia Primary School will continue with “Create U,” which integrates science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) concepts into the primary grades.

A STEAM class will be started at Colfax Upper Elementary, implementing the Full Option Science System, a science curriculum for K-8 grades.

All elementary teachers are getting MacBooks.

Springdale Junior-Senior High School is building on its one-to-one effort by distributing iPads to ninth-graders. The effort started in February with 10th and 11th grade students getting iPads.

The district expects to have a new assistant high school principal after the school year begins.

Apollo-Ridge

First day: Tuesday, Aug. 23

Enrollment: 1,265

Lunch prices: Elementary, $2.45; secondary, $2.70; unchanged

District phone: 724-478-6000

Website: www.apolloridge.com

What's new: New high school Principal Dan Consuegra is coming to the district from Freeport Area, where he was assistant high school principal.

The district is adding Project Lead the Way courses to middle school elective choices. The two new courses are automation and robotics, and design and modeling. The courses expose students to science, technology, engineering and math concepts by having them solve real-world problems using robotics kits and computer programs.

The middle school is also adding a program called “Storia,” which offers schoolwide and classroom subscriptions to eBook libraries with unlimited and simultaneous access from most devices with an Internet connection.

High school students will see a remodeled auditorium. Work done over the summer includes new seating and carpeting.

Burrell

First day: Wednesday, Aug. 24

Enrollment: 1,783

Lunch prices: Elementary, $2.25; middle school, $2.50; high school, $2.60; 10-cent increase

District phone: 724-334-1406

Website: burrell.k12.pa.us

What's new: The district will have seven new staff members, including Huston Middle School assistant Principal Autumn Turk and six teachers.

Skyward, a new student information system, will allow ​families​ to keep track of nearly everything, including their children's attendance, grades, schedule, assignments, food service balance, and emergency information.

Deer Lakes

First day: Thursday, Aug. 25

Enrollment: 1,986

Lunch prices: Curtisville and East Union, $2.60; middle and high school, $2.85; 10-cent increase

District phone: 724-265-5300

Website: www.deerlakes.net

What's new: Through a new math curriculum and textbooks, middle and high school students will use traditional textbooks in school but won't need to carry them home. Instead, students will have digital access to the program, which also offers a live online tutor to help with homework.

The high school will offer courses on video game design and game programming, along with classes in screenwriting and three-dimensional modeling.

The district has added new Advanced Placement physics and statistics courses at the high school in addition to new classes in sports marketing and personal finance.

Also at the high school, many elective courses are being offered for a semester instead of a full year. That will give students greater exposure to a wide array of course offerings. Courses being offered by semester include technology and industry, information technology and visual and performance art.

A new reading series for kindergarten through fifth grade students will give parents online access to materials to help their children at home.

On the first day of school, the district will work with local police to refresh district staff on school safety and “active shooter” measures.

The district will launch a new website at the start of the new school year.

Fox Chapel Area

First day: Tuesday, Aug. 30

Enrollment: 4,098

Lunch prices: Elementary, $2.55; secondary, $2.85; 25-cent increase

District phone: 412-963-9600

Website: www.fcasd.edu

What's new: The district's new computer science curriculum focuses on digital literacy, digital citizenship and computational thinking. It will include robotics, engineering, cyber safety, digital processing and presenting components.

The construction and renovation project at the high school has been finished. The last phase was a new natatorium that includes a new eight-lane pool, spectator area and locker rooms.

Work on new roofs at Fairview and O'Hara elementary schools is expected to be finished by the start of school.

A new track and artificial turf field were installed at the high school over the summer; a new track also was installed at Dorseyville Middle School.

Construction is scheduled to begin on Dorseyville at the start of the school year. The building will be getting new and/or updated heating, ventilating and air conditioning, plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems. Other renovations will include a new front office area, upgrades to the library and art classrooms, and a new “learn by doing” space adjacent to the library.

The high school is upgrading its computer technology with 560 Chromebooks.

The elementary curriculum for gifted and talented students has been revised; high school algebra students have a new course, “Math Lab,” where instruction focuses on using algebraic concepts in real life situations.

Freeport Area

First day: Monday, Aug. 29

Enrollment: 1,874

Lunch prices: Elementary, $2.65; secondary, $2.75; unchanged

District phone: 724-295-5141

Website: www.freeport.k12.pa.us

What's new: The district hired Sara Lang as its new K-12 college and career/elementary counselor. She'll work in all four schools and will help implement the district's four-year plan aimed at ensuring students are college- and career-ready.

This year, the district is offering 19 college credit courses through partnerships with the University of Pittsburgh, Seton Hill University and Westmoreland County Community College. Classes include foreign languages, science, math and literature.

Each school also will have a new “fab lab,” a classroom in each building open to all students where they can explore robotics, 3-D printing, biomedical engineering and 3-D dissection software.

The district also will open its new $4.2 million athletic stadium.

Highlands

First day: Tuesday, Sept. 6

Enrollment: 2,527

Lunch prices: Free to all students

District phone: 724-226-2400

Website: www.goldenrams.com

What's new: There has been some shuffling of administrators in preparation for the school year.

A new principal for the high school is expected to be hired before school starts. Kim Price, who was the assistant principal at Grandview Upper Elementary, is now the high school assistant principal.

Catherine Russo, who was the high school principal for a number of years, is the new principal at Grandview.

Fairmount and Fawn Primary Centers each will have principals. Previously, Shawn Bennis was principal for both, but now will have only Fawn. Heather Bigney, Grandview's former principal, is the principal at Fairmount.

Charles Mort and Debbie Beucker remain the middle school's principal and assistant principal, respectively.

Also, the district hired Patrick Hassler as the dean of students. Jodi Porter has been hired as the full-time school psychologist and Amy Eidenshink is the new high school librarian.

In addition to the personnel changes, the district is providing all staff with new HP ProBook computers. Grandview students and the primary centers will have labs with new HP Chromebooks.

Meanwhile, the STEAM program and the student apprentice partnership program with Oberg Industries are expanding.

Alternative education students have been relocated to a new facility outside of the high school.

Kiski Area

First day: Monday, Aug. 29

Enrollment: 3,706

Lunch prices: Elementary, $2.55; secondary, $2.65; 10-cent increase

District phone: 724-845-2022

Website: kiskiarea.com

What's new: The high school has a new student scheduling system. Instead of eight 41-minute classes every day, students will have four 82-minute classes that alternate every other day. Each day will end with a 44-minute period during which students can get extra help or enrichment.

Also with the new system, students who previously attended Northern Westmoreland Career & Technology Center for half-days will instead alternate between a full day there and a full day at Kiski Area.

Every high school student will be issued a Chromebook computer. They were introduced in the intermediate school last year.

Kenneth Pruitt is the new principal at the Kiski Area Upper Elementary School, and James Perlik is the new buildings and grounds director.

New field lights were installed at the soccer and football fields on the high school campus. A few night soccer games are expected.

Leechburg Area

First day: Wednesday, Aug. 24

Enrollment: 767

Lunch prices: Elementary, $2.60, 10-cent increase; junior and senior high, $2.75, 15-cent increase

District phone number: 724-842-9681

District website: www.leechburg.k12.pa.us

What's new: Metal detector use will begin the first day of school. Doors will be opened 15 minutes earlier for students' convenience, but they will not be required to arrive earlier.

The district hired a security firm to help with student arrival through the detectors and for additional wanding and general school security. All visitors will have to be scanned with a wanded before entering the elementary and junior-senior high schools.

Each elementary grade level will have three classrooms per grade, reducing class sizes and allowing for more individualized student planning.

The district plans to hire a K-6 principal in September; previously the district had one K-12 principal.

The district will hold parent information sessions monthly on topics to help parents understand and enhance their children's education. The sessions will be based on parent feedback; a survey will go out in September to gather information on potential topics.

All teachers will receive active shooter response training on Tuesday. Teachers will be trained in data usage to ensure data-driven planning and instruction.

The district will work with the ARIN Intermediate Unit to make a comprehensive curriculum plan that will include a K-12 scope and sequence and book buying and curriculum review cycles.

New Kensington-Arnold

First day: Wednesday, Aug. 24

Enrollment: 2,100

Lunch prices: Free for all students

District phone: 724-335-4401

Website: nkasd.com

What's new: New staff members include Spanish teacher Carrie Kelso and Joel Delinski as dean of students. Nicole Bitar, previously an instructional coach, was promoted to assistant elementary principal and will primarily oversee H.D. Berkey and Martin elementary schools.

Other administrators have been shifted to new positions or new buildings. Assistant Superintendent Jon Banko is no longer interim principal at Valley Junior-Senior High School; Patrick Nee, former Roy A. Hunt School principal, replaces Banko as high school principal. Tom Rocchi remains elementary principal, but is primarily based at Roy A. Hunt School. Todd Kutchak moves from assistant high school principal to an assistant principal at Hunt.

The district will expand its Skyward student management system to provide parents with more accurate information.

Plum

First day: Monday, Aug. 29

Enrollment: 3,765

Lunch prices: Elementary, $2.35; secondary, $2.60; unchanged

District phone: 412-795-0100

Website: www.pbsd.k12.pa.us

What's new: High school schedules are available on the community portal and were mailed home. A college fair will start at 5 p.m. Sept. 13 in the high school cafeteria, followed by open house starting at 6 p.m.

The district is expanding its robotics program at Oblock Junior High School with a team of students to compete with other junior high schools.

At the elementary schools, there are new and updated programs including a positive behavior support plan, reading and math incentive programs and an outdoor learning zone. Kindergarten orientations are being held Aug. 29 and all buildings will host an open house from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 15. Fall picture day is Sept. 8 at Regency, Sept. 9 at Holiday Park, and Sept. 13 at Center and Pivik.

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