Tube City Almanac

December 26, 2012

District Plans Science, Math Career Push

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McKeesport Area School District will launch a pilot college preparation program for underachieving students designed to encourage them to work towards a career in science, technology, engineering or math, also called "STEM."

While the program is designed to improve the achievement gap between African-American and Caucasian students, participation is not limited to African-American students only, said School Director Terri Kisan, who chairs the district's Cultural Diversity Committee.

The main goal of the program is to identify students with talents and abilities in engineering and science fields that may not have the knowledge or awareness of college planning, Kisan said.

. . .

At the school board's December meeting, Kisan said that a pilot version of the program will start in January for 50 students in grades 9 to 12, with the full program to launch in the fall.

The board unanimously accepted a $17,600 proposal from YSD Educational Consultant for the College Preparation Success Program.

The McKeesport YMCA has committed to providing $5,850 of this amount to fund the spring semester pilot program, which will run from January until the end of the 2012-13 school year in June. The program will be run by Darryl Wiley and Yvette Moore, of YSD Educational Consultants.

Students will be chosen to participate in the pilot program based on low Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) during the 2011-2012 school year and teacher recommendations.

Through the program, eligible students would be able to participate in tutoring, mentoring programs, group advising sessions, college field trips and career fairs, among other benefits, said Kisan. Each participant would develop his or her own individual academic plan.

Kisan hopes that the success of the program will merit an eventual expansion into younger grades.

She said the program's success will be measured by AYP improvement, an increase in standardized test attendance, a decrease in tardiness and absences and GPA improvement.

Another program from which students and faculty were able to benefit was an Educational Partnership program that provided 600 recipients this school year with boxes of school supplies that included dictionaries, calculators, pens, markets and other various supplies.

"We will be able to get this for every single student next year," Superintendent Timothy Gabauer said.

. . .

In other business, school officials approved a resolution directed to the National School Board Association voicing the district's opposition to the so-called federal "fiscal cliff" that takes effect in January, which will include tax increases and spending cuts in an attempt to decrease the nation's budget deficit.

Gabauer read the resolution aloud, urging the NSBA to find a solution to these potential economic effects.

According to School Director Tom Maglicco, chair of the board's finance committee, any impact from drastic cuts incurred from the fiscal cliff would begin to be felt in July, as the school district's current budget is locked in until the end of its fiscal year.

. . .

The board acknowledged notification from the Pennsylvania Department of Education that the department received Part A of the district's Planning and Construction Workbook, or PlanCon, application for the Founders Hall Middle School project, which details the district's justification for the project. MASD is seeking partial reimbursement for the construction project from the state.

The board's adoption of several board policies was also on the agenda at the meeting: Student Assistance, Graduation Requirements, Controlled Substances/Paraphernalia, Electronic Devices and Bullying/Cyber Bullying. The board unanimously approved updates to those policies.

In addition, the board authorized the Law Offices of Ira Weiss to represent the district as special counsel in certain undisclosed matters involving PaPMI and Gurtner Construction Company and related to the construction project at the site of the former Cornell Intermediate School. The firm's rate is $125 per hour.

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