The Steel Valley school board on Tuesday night voted to accept a $291,791.70 donation from Apple Corp. to implement a new district-wide technology plan using iPads.
Superintendent Ed Wehrer said the donation, and a separate $69,921 gift from philanthropist William Campbell through his new Campbell Educational and Community Foundation, will be used to train teachers in how to use iPads in the classroom, and to buy the devices for every student.
Before that happens, district staff must do a lot of thinking and planning about the right way to use the iPads, he said.
Administrators will be working on the plan the second half of this school year, and there will be a rolling implementation of the new technology plan during the 2015-2016 school year to give iPads to all students, Mr. Wehrer said.
Students will be taught how to be responsible iPad users, he said.
The Internet is constantly changing, but the district will use technology to block every inappropriate website that the district knows about from the iPads, he said.
“We’re excited to be working with Apple,” he said.
The school board also voted to accept an $102,500 gift from the Campbell Educational Foundation to fund the district’s new Creating Value program.
Mr. Wehrer said the Creating Value program uses design thinking and project management to teach students how to solve real-world problems and create projects that will benefit the community.
In November, members of the school board met with Munhall borough officials to discuss a Munhall proposal to sell Munhall No. 3 Firehall to the district in exchange for a lease that would allow Munhall to create a community park on the vacant, former Woodlawn Middle School property.
During the meeting, Steel Valley officials told Munhall borough council members that the firehall didn’t meet their needs.
After the meeting with Munhall councilors, Steel Valley school director Mike Terrick said that though the district doesn’t want the firehall, the proposal to allow a park to be created on the Woodlawn Middle School property is still very much on the table.
Munhall borough council members said they would like to see picnic pavilions, tables and playground equipment on part of the property; and a fenced dog park on another part of it.
Mr. Wehrer said that though the board hasn’t decided to allow the use of that property for a park, if it does, students taking part in the Creating Value program could design it.
More than 120 people also came to the board meeting last night, many to show support for the Steel Valley teachers union during negotiations.
A number of teachers and their supporters responded to a comment by school director Coyleen Steele last month. She said the teachers didn’t volunteer for Homecoming and other events because they are negotiating for a new contract.
A number of Steel Valley alumni spoke about how the support and after-hours efforts of their teachers helped them be successful today. One said an art teacher took her home and made her a cup of tea after someone hit her so hard with a coat that a zipper cut her face.
Another spoke of how her Steel Valley teacher inspired her to get a degree in chemistry.
Mrs. Steele said after the meeting that she wanted to thank the teachers for coming to the meeting. She said she did speak of some teachers as excellent last month.
Now that the teachers have set a precedent by coming out to board meetings en masse, Mrs. Steele said she hopes they continue to come to meetings once a contract has been signed.
The district may try to set up another negotiation session next week, she said.