Starfish will resurface after school in Steel Valley

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The YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh will restart the Starfish after-school program in the Steel Valley School District on Monday.

The district had been the site of the YMCA's pilot Starfish program years ago.

The program, which offers reading and math instruction, is being paid for with an EQT grant received by the YMCA.

The program will concentrate on second- and third-graders at Park and Barrett elementary schools, according to Jill Fleming-Salopek, assistant high school principal.

Jason Cendroski of the YMCA told Steel Valley school directors and administrators at Tuesday's school board meeting that Starfish will be held two days per week after school for 24 weeks. Each Starfish after-school program will instruct a maximum of 25 students.

Starfish has three components -- teaching, assessment and reporting, Mr. Cendroski said. Each two-hour program will contain 1 1/2 hours of instruction plus a hot meal, he said.

Dexter Hairston of the YMCA, who also spoke at Tuesday's board meeting, said Starfish is open to all students, including those who have behavior problems and students who are struggling academically. Mrs. Fleming-Salopek said exemplary students also can take part.

Mr. Hairston said the YMCA also offers social, academic and physical education programs that can be run at other grade levels.

The YMCA is operating other programs in the Clairton City School District in grades K-2 and in the South Allegheny School District in grades 3-6.

The district should consider whether it wants to take advantage of the other YMCA programs, Mr. Hairston said.

Two teachers will be needed for each program site, Mrs. Fleming-Salopek said. At a time when elementary teachers are trying to improve scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, or PSSA, tests, the Starfish assessments can be given to each child's regular classroom teachers so they can identify and work on a child's areas of academic weakness, she said.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, superintendent Ed Wehrer said the board would delay its vote to ratify the new contract with the Steel Valley Education Association because directors didn't have time to read and review the language of the contract before the meeting.

The district reached an accord with its teachers union on the new contract in mid-September.

education - neigh_south

Anne Cloonan, freelance writer:


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