West students head back to class: Carlynton, Cornell, South Fayette, and Sto-Rox


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Technology upgrades, lunch price changes and new teachers are among the changes facing students returning to classes for the 2014-15 year in West schools. Here’s the second installment of our back-to-school roundup:

Carlynton

Lunch prices increased by 5 and 10 cents for students who returned to classes Tuesday. Elementary lunches are $1.70, high school student lunches are between $1.85 and $2.40 depending on the menu item, and adult lunches are $2.70.

The district unveiled a new school emblem with a cougar and a green and gold color scheme. KMA Design of Carnegie helped the district with the design.

Renovations for Crafton and Carnegie elementary schools are in the second phase, which includes secure entrance vestibules, new office suites and office relocations. Carnegie students will see a new front facade with new windows, a new porch entrance and canopy that is handicapped accessible.

The carpeting that covered the walls at Crafton school has been removed, and the walls have been painted to brighten the hallways. The Crafton Elementary STEAM room has been enlarged and relocated to the third floor.

The Student Information System has been upgraded along with a new robo-call system to contact parents of absent students. Students will be using 172 new laptops, which will replace aging laptops for mobile carts districtwide.

Older laptops were refurbished, received software upgrades and will be reused throughout the district. All teachers received new laptops, and their desktop computers will be distributed throughout the district.

There will be 12 new classroom boards with 12 multimedia projectors, which were installed in each elementary school — six per school. Twenty Kindle Fire pads have been installed in a cart that was donated by the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation. — Kim Lawrence

Cornell

A $20,000 Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics grant provided by the Grable Foundation and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit is being used to transform a high school classroom into a STEAM lab, which will open later this month.

Administrators are encouraging teachers to incorporate the STEAM lab into lesson plans as a way to improve projects, units and lessons while focusing on common core standards.

After more than a decade using the same reading curriculum, superintendent Aaron Thomas said a “well overdue” curriculum change is being adopted for grades K-6. The elementary students will transition to Journeys reading program this year.

Upgrades around the school include a new gymnasium floor at the elementary, WiFi access updates and new seats in the auditorium.

Classes started Tuesday. Students will have between 10 and 15 minutes of additional education time this year in accordance with the district’s collective bargaining agreement. New dismissal times are 2:30 p.m. for secondary students and 3:20 p.m. for elementary students. — Sonja Reis

South Fayette

Students reported to classes Aug. 19.

Due to the township’s growth, seven teachers were hired, raising the total to 188. “Our numbers continue to increase,” said superintendent Billie Rondinelli, noting that enrollment is 2,877. Also, four new buses were added to the fleet.

Sargent Jeff Sgro, the school resource officer, is now present on campus full time.

The district is continuing to focus on STEAM/Innovation initiatives. The Operational Theme for this year is: Engage·Design·Inspire·Create.

An outdoor Elementary MakeShop Lab is being created to accompany the indoor K-2 space. It is being funded by a STEAM/Emerging Innovation Leaders grant through the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.

Also, the Global Passport Project is now part of the high school science seminar curriculum, as is the Innovation Studio course. The middle school added a new MakeShop as well.

Administrators are exploring what technology devices are necessary for students to accommodate academic programming.

The intermediate school is continuing the development of activities initiated last year, such as the Scratch Club; Fifth Grade Arts Club; Chorus; Band; Performing Arts; INSPIRE Series; MS — Ski Club; Evolution of Gaming; STEAM Team; ES: and Family MakeShop Night. — Amy Philips-Haller

Sto-Rox

Although still negotiating new contracts with the district, both the teaching and support staff members at Sto-Rox reported for in-service on Aug. 19. Classes started Aug. 21.

At the elementary level, the district is implementing the Imagine Learning literacy program for its approximately 700 students in K-5. The language and literacy software programming used to help struggling readers improve skills is being introduced using 30 computers donated by the Imagine Learning Corp. All students will work with the software in 30-minute blocks.

The middle school has begun implementation of Vikings SAIL — a program which stands for Safe Accountable Intelligent Leaders. It’s a positive behavior intervention support program created in collaboration with The Watson Institute’s Sophia Barrett and a team of middle school teachers who began meeting last year to create the schoolwide positive behavior program.

The program goal is to increase instructional time, decrease disruptive or unsafe behaviors, decrease time spent with student management and create an overall more positive school climate.

This programming is not a curriculum change, but a framework for improving academic and behavioral outcomes in all aspects of the school day. Students will have the opportunity to earn recognition for positive actions paid for through a fund set up by the teachers who have volunteered to provide weekly contributions for use as rewards.

A fourth advanced placement class has been added to the high school course offerings. The new course, AP U.S. History, is available for juniors and seniors. Last year, the district added AP Calculus and Biology. Two years ago, the district introduced AP English. The district plans to add an additional course each year. — Sonja Reis


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