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Expect lots of improvements at Carlynton School District this year

| Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, 1:24 p.m.

Students broadcasting Carlynton Junior-Senior High School’s morning announcements finally will have the chance to be seen by their peers.

The Carlynton School District this summer ditched the old tube televisions that were in the classrooms and replaced all classroom projectors, adding capabilities to stream the school’s morning announcements from YouTube so they can be watched by students each morning.

In the past, there was no way to get the announcements to the old televisions. So, morning updates were played over the intercom.

“They had no way to get the morning news,” director of technology Joe Rodella said.

The idea to stream the morning announcements came after a graduating senior this spring couldn’t make it to her own graduation because she was in the hospital. Graduation was streamed online due to the fear of rain and the possibility that people might need to watch it inside the school. However the student was able to watch her own graduation, as well.

The new projectors are just one of many upgrades the Carlynton School District made this summer, as staff worked to enhance facilities, technology and add new courses to the schedule for students, who headed back to class on Aug. 20.

“We accomplished a lot this summer,” said Dennis McDade, director of maintenance and custodial services.

Making safety a priority

Safety was a top priority, along with making upgrades to the classrooms, Rodella said.

The district installed surveillance cameras outside both Carnegie and Crafton elementary schools this summer, Rodella and McDade said.

Surveillance cameras at the junior-senior high school were replaced starting at the end of the 2017-18 school year. That change came with upgraded software to improve surveillance at the schools.

Phones also were added to every elementary school classroom this summer, Rodella said.

The district also added a Rave Panic Button that teachers and staff can now use on their cellphones, Rodella said.

The application, once downloaded, allows teachers and staff to alert first responders and the appropriate district staff of an emergency with the push of a button on their phones.

They can select from buttons to indicate their type of emergency that includes an active shooter.

The cloud-based app will transmit their location to first responders.

Lots of new computers

The district also made a lot of upgrades in technology this summer, Rodella said.

Along with creating a new position for a systems administrator, who started in May, Carlynton purchased 140 new laptops for teachers and staff and 40 desktops for administrators and personnel.

They also re-imaged nearly 200 computers. The teachers’ old laptops were kept and will be used in the front of the classroom solely to link in with their projectors.

Some projectors were replaced at the elementary schools, while all were replaced at the junior-senior high school.

“We had some double-digit-year-old PCs,” Rodella said. However, finances were taken into account. The purchases were spread over multiple budget cycles to make it doable.

Shiny walls and new cougars

The district also, as part of an energy savings plan, upgraded lighting at all three schools to LED this summer.

“The kids will have a bright learning environment this year,” McDade said.

At Crafton Elementary, the old cougar statue in front of the school had seen better days and had to be taken to the Cougar hospital to be cleaned up, McDade said, with a laugh.

A new cougar made its debut in front of the school this summer, along with new landscaping. The old one, once it’s cleaned up, will make its way back to Carlynton, McDade said.

The hallways and majority of classrooms at Crafton also were repainted this summer, while the third floor got new carpeting — something that was really needed, McDade said.

At Carnegie Elementary, some hallways were repainted and one classroom got new carpet.

At Carlynton Junior-Senior High School, the swimming pool is being repainted this summer and the parking lot rejuvenated with a new seal coat.

The heating and cooling system, also a part of the energy savings program, also was replaced at the junior-senior high school. That’s something students will notice a difference with as temperatures are what they’re supposed to be in the future.

Weather sealing also was done at all three schools.

Learning time

The district also has new acceleration guidelines to follow for students who are higher achieving to ensure they’re getting just what they need, said Ed Mantich, director of curriculum and assessment.

“We have to meet the needs of our students,” he said.

The new guidelines provide procedures to follow, what data should be collected and who should be appearing in meeting for students who are either accelerated in one subject or a whole grade.

“This is just so everyone is on the same page,” Mantich said. “We have to meet the individual needs of our students.”

The senior high school added curriculum for computational thinking this year, utilizing code.org curriculum.

New courses will include computer science discoveries for ninth- and 10th-graders. In the next few years, a computer science principles course will be added for students who complete the discoveries course to take during their junior and senior years.

The district also added Google applied digital learning skills and a Microsoft digital application courses. Both will provide the opportunity for students to get certified in their given area in the future.

The push for new computer science courses comes from the federal Computer Science for All standards, along with a state push for computer science, Mantich said. The district already had been working on new courses in the area.

At the elementary schools, kindergarten to sixth graders will have a enrichment and intervention period added to their day, geared towards personalized learning. The time will allow students that might have missed something to review the topic or someone who needs more to get that.

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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