Plum adds police officer, new technology |

Plum adds police officer, new technology

Michael DiVittorio
Lillian Dedomenic | For the Tribune-Review
Plum School District hosted a series of self-guided tours to help parents and students get familiar with their building and classrooms before the start of school Aug. 21. Seventh and eighth graders toured O’Block Junior High, checking out their classrooms, cafeteria, library and lockers.
Lillian Dedomenic | For the Tribune-Review
Candence Feerst, eight grade, Isabella DiFrancesca, seventh grade, and Becca Griffin, eight grade, locate their lockers and make sure the combination works during a building walk-through prior to starting their 2019-20 school year Aug. 21.
Lillian Dedomenic | For the Tribune-Review
Plum School District hosted a series of self-guided tours to help parents and students get familiar with their building and classrooms before the start of school on Aug. 21. Will Beckner (far right), checks out the seventh-grade hallway and cafeteria at Oblock Junior High School with his mom, Maggie, and brother, Charlie. Following their visit to O’Block, the Beckner’s headed over to Holiday Park Elementary where Charlie will be entering fifth grade.

A new website, app, police officer, facilities director and assistant superintendent are just some of the new additions at Plum School District.

Officials also rolled out a digital backpack complete with 2019-20 school year welcome letters and related information from administrators of each school.

“We warmly encourage each of our students to come ready to create their own future, be good to each other, and to give their very best,” Superintendent Brendan Hyland wrote in his letter.

The first day of school is Aug. 21.

The district’s website,, went through an overhaul over the summer including the backpack.

ESchoolView, its content management system and host provider, used a template designed by district technology director Daniel Lauletta to make it easier for people to navigate the site.

“The beta site was released to our cabinet who continued to make changes to develop the final site,” Lauletta said. “The team worked closely to finalize the content in order to provide our families and students with a streamlined and user-friendly experience.”

The district’s new app is free and available for all mobile device. It was recently launched to keep parents, students, teachers and administrators connected.

“The feedback we have received after the release has been tremendously positive,” Lauletta said. “In less than a week after launch, there have been 5,388 total subscriptions downloaded for our app. We were thrilled with our community’s response.”

App features include a district calendar, directory, cafeteria menus, directions to events and content specific to each school. It also allows the district to obtain sponsors/advertisers to bring in revenue.

School directors hired retired New Kensington patrolman Michael Netzlof to its district police force. He will be stationed at the high school.

Netzlof’s acquisition gives the district an opportunity to have an armed officer at each school.

Tim Hanna, district police supervisor and former McKeesport captain of detectives, said he’s grateful to the board and administration for their support and supplying a full complement of officers.

“All the officers on the force so far have good relationships with students and staff,” Hanna said. “When I started in October, the police department didn’t exist. I think the district is in a good place with this.”

Plum police also supply the district with a school resource officer for added security. The SRO expense is covered by the borough.

John Walsh, brother of assistant superintendent Rick Walsh, was hired as the district’s new facilities director in June.

He previously served as Penn Hills School District’s plant department manager.

John Walsh and other administrators continue to work on capital projects. Initiatives include Center Elementary and Oblock Junior High roof restoration and other interior and exterior repairs district wide.

District officials plan to refinance bonds, sell off property and use borrowed money originally earmarked for a new Regency Park Elementary to address much needed facility improvements.

Gail Yamnitzky will enter another school year as assistant superintendent, but does not plan to finish it.

She dedicated about 25 years to educating children and plans to call it a career in a few months.

The board approved her retirement and hired Denise Sedlacek as Yamnitzky’s successor.

Sedlack served as assistant superintendent for seven years at the Baldwin-Whitehall School District.

She’s expected to start sometime in September and be formally introduced at the Aug. 27 school board meeting.

“Ms. Sedlacek is a game-changer,” Hyland said. “As a district-level leader, she will work to empower others, build capacity, and develop our leaders. She will continue to carry on the mission of creating an environment that exceptionally prepares all students and staff for success. We could not be more pleased to welcome her to our Plum family.”

The district also welcomes more Junior ROTC cadets this school year as part of an agreement with Penn Hills School District.

About 16 cadets from Penn Hills’ defunct Navy program will continue their military studies via Plum’s Air Force program.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Plum
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