By Kassie Boyd and Braeden Kantz, editor-in-chief and managing editor
Students and staff at PENNCREST can expect to see changes in their schools starting in early October. Over summer break, new superintendent Dr. Timothy Glasspool worked to reduce standardized testing in the elementary and high schools, increase opportunities for students across the district, and work closely with administration and outside sources to modernize PENNCREST.
One of Dr. Glasspool’s initiatives is to decrease the amount of standardized testing in both the elementary and high schools. “We need to reduce the frequency of lengthy standardized assessments in grades K-12 and spend more student instruction time engaged in purposeful teaching and learning,” Dr. Glasspool said. He also suggested the possibility of the district paying for the PSATs, and reimbursing students who receive a 3 or above on their Advanced Placement exams.
One change that may be indicative of the district’s future direction has already been implemented at Saegertown High School. As many students at SHS have noticed, French class is now being taught online by Mr. Nathan Youngblood from Maplewood. Dr. Glasspool plans to expand upon the idea of online classes by working closely with the Virtual Learning Network, one of the largest networks of district-based virtual academies in the United States. By partnering with VLN, students at PENNCREST will be able to take classes not offered inside their buildings.
Dr. Glasspool also plans to improve upon electives and activities already offered at school. In order to increase participation, Dr. Glasspool suggested “school activity buses” to provide students with transportation. This option will be explored.
Another of Dr. Glasspool’s objectives is to balance the budget without raising taxes for the second year in a row. “We can spend the money we have in a better ways,” Dr. Glasspool said. He wants to achieve this without the loss of any teachers or faculty, noting that, “Staff makes the difference at schools.”
Earlier this year, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 44, which created the committee that will develop the criteria to measure school safety, and help administer grants based upon preparedness. At the September work session, the PENNCREST school board revealed that the district received $25,000 towards ALICE training, possible visitor management, exterior door upgrades and portable metal detectors. Dr. Glasspool and Principal Tom Baker are slated for ALICE training in Pittsburgh on Sept. 24-25 of this year. “I don’t know what to expect,” Mr. Baker said. “But I hope it will be beneficial to not only our school, but the whole district as well.” PENNCREST is also in the process of applying for a competitive grant that would award the district more funds to be put towards security.
The PENNCREST website will also be receiving a makeover. Dr. Glasspool plans to streamline the graphics and increase social media like Facebook and Twitter in order to keep community members up to date. Community members that follow the PENNCREST Facebook page may have already noticed the updated profile picture. More updates will follow. In addition, students may soon be able to receive texts about buses and two-hour delays rather than the traditional phone calls.
Dr. Glasspool promises to bring new ideas and perspectives to PENNCREST. He will remain a visible figure in the administration and maintain an open line of communication. “Actions will speak louder than words,” Dr. Glasspool said. “And I’m excited to see what students and staff have to say.”