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Plum board looking at proposal to perk up high school library

Michael DiVittorio
| Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, 7:06 p.m.
Plum High School library.
Michael DiVittorio | Tribune-Review
Plum High School library.

A proposed coffee shop in the Plum High School library is gaining support from district officials.

The intent of the coffee shop is to develop entrepreneurship, and have life-skills students run it to obtain hands-on experience working with the public and money, assistant Superintendent Gail Yamnitzky explained at a committee meeting Sept. 19.

“I love the entrepreneurial part of it,” board member Reginald Hickman said. “And for any of our students who would be involved and get hands-on experience running a business, I think this would be fantastic.”

The project is linked to a SPIRIT group project to upgrade the library into a more modern and inviting learning space. SPIRIT stands for Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together. It's a federal Department of Justice initiative designed to empower student leaders.

Students secured a $30,000 grant from Education Unchained, funded by the Heinz Endowments.

Details about the shop such as size, hours of operation and how it will be supplied were not finalized. Board member Richard Zucco said that information should be supplied before board approval.

“It's a lot more involved than just saying, ‘Let's have a lemonade stand in our front yard,' ” he said. “Maybe they haven't given this much thought, but we as a school board have to.”

He also suggested spending money on technology, rather than coffee.

Board Vice President Michelle Stepnick said the students obtained the grant, not the district.

“We don't get to tell the students what to do with their grant money,” she said. “I think they have a vision as a SPIRIT group as to what to do with that money.”

Board member Sue Caldwell said the coffee shop was a good idea, and referenced a May presentation outlining library possibilities for the next few years. That presentation is available at

“I think that we need to work on this overall plan, not just what the SPIRIT grant is going to get us,” said Caldwell. “I think we need to look at the big picture.”

More information is expected to be released at an Oct. 17 meeting with VEBH Architects, the Mt. Lebanon firm that is working on a district capital improvements plan.

That meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the high school, 900 Elicker Road.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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