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BLAIRSVILLE-SALTSBURG: District earns designation from Apple

by MARGARET HARPER mharper@indianagazette.net on November 21, 2013 10:50 AM

SALTSBURG — The Blairsville-Saltsburg School District has been recognized by computer giant Apple in a designation given to just five schools in Pennsylvania and 109 nationally.

The district’s iPlan, which outlines the vision of technology use in classrooms, is now an Apple Distinguished Program, said Ian Magness, assistant superintendent.

The designation was given to the district for “its demonstrated ability to transform learning and promote innovations using mobile tools and dynamic instructional practice,” according to a news release.

It is “reserved for programs that meet criteria for innovation, leadership and education excellence, and demonstrate a clear vision of exemplary learning environments.”

To apply for the distinction, faculty developed an iBook that told the district’s story, Magness said.

The award is a three-year designation for 2013 to 2015, Magness said.

It will provide the school district access to professional development support, networking with other districts and more.

“For me, the award also simply serves as validation of our efforts to put together a truly unique program for our students and teachers,” said Magness, who is also the district’s technology director.

Technology in the district includes interactive smartboards, LCD projectors, audio speakers and Apple TVs in all classrooms, he said. And all high school students have iPads, which are taken home each night, and middle school students have laptops to take to each class.

High school business labs are equipped with 30 iMacs, and at the elementary level, each classroom has eight PCs.

Magness praised the teachers for the use of the available technology.

“Even with all of this technology, it is the individual teacher that brings it all together and leverages the technology to increase the engagement and learning opportunities of their students,” he said.

Representatives from Apple will visit the district in the future to present a plaque for the designation.

In other business, the board:

• Authorized the submission of the district’s comprehensive plan to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The plan summarizes goals and action plans of the district and is required in a six-year cycle by PDE.

It was presented at last month’s meeting and had been available online for review.

Highlights of the 89-page document include accomplishments and concerns within the district, said Holly Gibson, who presented the plan last month.

• Approved Deb Shirley to serve as an interim principal at BES during the leave of absence of Joe Baker at a rate of $354 per day.

• Approved an agreement with Thought Process Enterprises to participate in a program with the company that generates revenue for school districts through banner advertisements placed on the district’s websites.

Thought Process Enterprises helps link advertisers to publishers.

The district will receive 50 percent of gross revenue from advertising published on the website and 5 percent of any referrals.

• Will purchase wrestling mats from EZ Flex Sports Mats not to exceed $9,214.

• Accepted a grant from the Center for Safe Schools for Saltsburg Elementary/Saltsburg Elementary PTA for a 2013-14 Community Bullying Prevention Coalition grant in the amount of $3,000, with funding from the Highmark Foundation.

• Accepted a $1,000 grant from Walmart for playground equipment for the SES Pre-K program.

• Approved the Keystone Biology Curriculum, which better reflects the material students need to know for the required Keystone exams, Magness said.

• Approved the following workshop/conference requests: Jim Brida, director of food services, to the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials from March 11 to 14 in Hershey at a cost of $608.30; Leigh Free, transportation coordinator/child accounting, PASBO conference, $838.30; and Eric Kocsis, PASBO conference, $838.30.

• Approved the following field trips: SMHS Natural Philosophers’ Guild to Laurel Caverns, Oct. 11, 2014; BSSD French I and II students to Carnegie Science Center Omnimax Theater, Feb. 11; and BHS FBLA to the Leadership Conference, Jan. 6, at UPJ. All trips are at no cost to the district.

• Accepted the resignation of Ronda Halldin, BHS cheerleader head coach, effective Nov. 15.

The board hired Lisa Fodor as a new head coach, effective Nov. 16, and Tascha Morris as BMHS junior high coach, effective Nov. 16.

• Approved Jennifer Watson as a long-term substitute guidance counselor at SMHS during the leave of Lori Baker from about Dec. 3 to March 14 for $20,000 and no benefits.

• Approved the following leaves of absence: Alissa McNulty, an extension through Dec. 4; Debrah Bair, retroactive from Oct. 14 through the end of the school year; and Linsey Palazzi, from March 21 through the end of the school year.

• Authorized participation in the ARIN IU 28 Cooperative Purchasing program for the 2014-15 year.

• Exonerated the following from per capita taxes: Raymond Barnhart, Ruth Carlson, Nellie Henigin, Richard Hibbs, Charlotte Hill, Jesse Hoak and Susan Little, all of Blacklick Township, and Devin Lynch, of Loyalhanna Township.

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