This page contains press releases about events and news within the Ambridge Area School District.
The Ambridge Area School District is pleased to announce it is the first public school district in Beaver County to be awarded a National Math + Science Initiative grant worth up to $750,000.
The three-year partnership with NMSI will be used to provide professional development opportunities for teachers in grades 3-12 in the subjects of science, math and English. Grant money through the partnership also will be used to dramatically increase the number of Ambridge students enrolled in AP courses and allow the District to provide an additional five AP courses beyond the eight already offered.
“I am incredibly excited about this grant, as it will provide extensive training for up to 34 staff, helping to lay the foundation in grades 3-8 for students to have exposure to more rigorous coursework in alignment with our AP classes,” said Ms. Janice Zupsic, Ambridge Area Senior High School Principal. “This truly is a District-wide opportunity, allowing all of our students to benefit from having access to master teachers and mentors for teachers in all grade levels.”
NMSI’s programs have impacted over 1.5 million students, 50,000 teachers, 1,000 high schools and 44 universities nationwide. In its partnership with Ambridge, NMSI will provide four full days of training each summer for the next three years for 27 regular teachers and seven AP instructors in the District. It also will provide two full days in both the spring and fall for professional development purposes, the assignment of a personal mentor, three Saturday sessions with expert mentors, and additional networking opportunities for teachers.
Dr. Jo Welter, Superintendent, said the partnership is a tremendous advantage to the District, and aligns with upcoming plans for curriculum development. “The development of our curriculum over the next three years is going to be completely different with this training,” she said. “This is a level of professional development to which our teachers otherwise would not have had access.”
AP teachers at the high school also will have access to hundreds of lesson plans, mock tests and materials that can be used to help prepare students to sit for AP exams. Currently, students are not required to sit for an exam upon completion of an AP course at Ambridge. As part of the partnership agreement with NMSI, students will now be expected to sit for the AP exams. NMSI will pay for half of the cost of the exams, with the school district covering the other half.
In addition to the benefits already outlined, the partnership also will provide access to $35,000 worth of course materials and supplies to Ambridge students and staff, and a $100 incentive for every student who earns a 3, 4 or 5 on an AP exam.
Dr. Welter noted that as part of the partnership agreement, the District is required to contribute $25,000 annually for three years to help cover costs. She noted the benefits achieved through the partnership are worth the expenditure.
“We will now have a solid, vertical alignment of curriculum in grades 3-11, with nationally-normed standards and assessment items,” she said. “Our students will be better prepared for college and careers.”
Ms. Zupsic said it is her goal to encourage at least 80 more students to consider enrolling in AP courses at the high school. At present, roughly 140 students are enrolled in one of the existing AP courses offered. “This partnership opportunity makes the ability to take an AP course more accessible to our students, and that’s half the battle.”
Statement on Rhodes Transportation Bus Monitor
The Ambridge Area School District was made aware of a situation which allegedly occurred on Nov. 29, 2017 involving a bus monitor employed by R.J. Rhodes Transit, Inc., the contractor providing transportation services to the District, and one of our students.
The parent of the child affected contacted Mrs. Aphrodite Galitsis, Economy Elementary School principal, immediately following the alleged incident. Mrs. Galitsis brought the incident to the attention of District Director of Transportation Mr. Brian Miller, who secured video footage from the bus and was able to review the incident. The video also was provided to the Economy Borough Police.
Following the review of the video and consultation with the Economy Borough Police Department, the Ambridge Area School District informed R.J. Rhodes Transit, Inc. that the monitor was no longer permitted to be present on any bus being operated on behalf of the school district. The District also filed a report with ChildLine, a mandated statewide child protective services program for reporting suspected child abuse.
Economy Borough Police notified the District that charges against the bus monitor were pending. Additionally, the monitor involved in the incident is no longer employed by R.J. Rhodes Transit, Inc.
The safety and security of our students is our number one priority. The District will continue to work with the Economy Borough Police Department to provide any additional assistance in this matter. Parents who have concerns are encouraged to bring them to the attention of their building principal, or to the District’s Transportation Office at 724-266-4322.
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released a statement on Wednesday that includes one finding and one recommendation for improvement for the Ambridge Area School District for an audit covering fiscal years July 2012 through June 2016.
The finding involved retirement benefits for previous superintendents which included the superintendent and their immediate family members. DePasquale determined the practice posed a significant financial impact on the District and recommended the District include a minimum years of service provision in all future employment contracts.
“The Ambridge Area School District appreciates the recommendations provided by the Auditor General’s Office following its review of District finances and operations,” said Doug McCausland, Director of Operations for the Ambridge Area School District. “The District takes all recommendations seriously and already has begun the process of implementing corrective action for the finding contained within the report.”
Starting with the three-year contract for its new superintendent, which is effective July 27, 2017 through July 30, 2020, post-employment benefits are extended only to Dr. Jo Welter. Should she elect to cover her spouse, she will be responsible for paying the difference in premium cost. Benefits for Dr. Welter continue only until she reaches age 65. Due to her decades-long career in public education, a minimum years of employment provision was not included in her current contract.
“Retirement insurance provisions are common features of superintendents’ contracts in the Commonwealth with many being more generous than what the Ambridge Area School District agreed to provide its current Superintendent,” said Mr. McCausland. “We believe the contract with our current superintendent is not only fair to her, but also fiscally responsible and in alignment with the auditor’s recommendations.”
The full auditor’s report is available here.