by Jonathan Weaver
Since Kittanning Township Elementary was closed in June 2012, multiple offers to buy the building and land were made, but none stuck.
Armstrong School District board directors hope the latest – an $88,000 offer from Tim Fouse, of Kittanning Township – will.
Solicitor Lee Price and School Board President Joseph Close said an offer was made about six weeks ago and has been discussed frequently at board executive sessions.
“We finally found somebody that seemed to be willing to sign off in writing,” Price said.
Other offers for the property have fallen through, Price said – such as from community groups that do not realize the funding needed to maintain the space. School directors approved the sale to CWM Environmental in May, but the Rayburn Township environmental company instead purchased a lot at the West Hills Industrial Park in East Franklin Township in September
“(Buildings) tend to deteriorate over time if they’re not being used,” Close said. “We don’t need it.”
According to Facilities Director Bill Henley, utilities are still available at the school site, but are used rarely.
The Board also turned their attention to the new high school.
The end of the current semester is nearing, and junior-senior high curriculum coordinator Shauna Braun-Zukowski worked with the district’s six department chairs the past few months to coordinate some new courses that will be offered at the junior-senior high school level in August 2015.
Zukowski said most of the changes will be in the technology education department, with 10 entry level courses being renamed and curriculum changed during the next two years to focus more on physics, programming, mechanical systems and electronic systems through individual and team projects through STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) principles.
A new robotics engineering class is also proposed for 10-12th grade students at the new Armstrong Junior-Senior High and at West Shamokin Junior-Senior High.
High school teachers currently teach through Lego Mindstorms kits to create programmable robots, and could use the same equipment to expand the curriculum, but Zukowski recommended the purchase of another kit.
“The new curriculum if we would buy these robotics kits would be compatible with the programming skills that are taught currently in the Business Department,” Zukowski said.
Zukowski said the $24,000 cost could be absolved largely due to current grants and district funding already available.
“All of these things could be bought without touching (or utilizing very-little) district funds at this time,” Zukowski said. “It isn’t something that would have to be budgeted for next year.”
Keychains, coasters and glasses with the new Armstrong Riverhawks logo that were made by students via laser were given to school board members.
Superintendent Stan Chapp appreciated the gifts and looked ahead to new 3-D printer designs (which shop teachers also applauded).
Some other course modifications proposed include:
– Algebra 2 Essentials becoming Algebra 1 Essentials to help students who need extra help to meet district standards and statewide graduation requirements with the Keystone Exam
– Implementing the elective Introduction to Guitar in both schools.
– Blended learning (both online and in the classroom) with the Business Department for the required-Computer Science 9
– Making the required Family Consumer Sciences 9 a semester-course instead of a year
– Adding Child Development 2 and implementing an active preschool lab
– Adding Mandarin Chinese to the school district language offerings.
Kittanning Senior High is the only one of the three current high schools that has a preschool lab – serving about 10 families.
With approval, student scheduling will begin soon for the 2015-16 school year.
“Every curriculum offering has been connected to the Department of Education standards in order to prepare students for future career and educational opportunities,” Zukowski said.
Chapp reported that about 2,500 community residents attended the construction walk-through November 1 from all age groups. He thanked Reynolds Construction Managers Roshelle Fennell and Steve Reckhart, as well as district administrators and board directors.
Close said residents were also asking for another before the ribbon cutting this summer.
An executive session was held before the open caucus session for personnel, real estate and student confidentiality and immediately after.