This page contains press releases about events and news within the Ambridge Area School District.
The Ambridge Area School Board of Directors approved a 2018-2019 Operating Budget Wednesday evening that will enhance academic opportunities District-wide, while affording much-needed upgrades to infrastructure and technology. The budget was approved by a vote of 5 to 2.
Budget highlights include:
- Upgrades to the Middle School wireless service at a cost of $38,103;
- Four new laptop carts for the schools and a new laptop lab for the Middle School at a cost of $140,465;
- Purchase of 30 new laptops and 200 new iPads at a cost of $166,995; and
- New projectors purchased for $75,190 and existing projectors upgraded for $17,000.
- Thanks to an E-Rate grant secured by District Technology Supervisor Ms. Lori Heim, 80 percent of the cost of the wireless upgrades at the Middle School will be covered.
- Upgrading the security operating system;
- New and replacement cameras District-wide;
- District radios to improve communication among buildings/administrators; and
- Card access for elevators.
- New Grade 6-8 Math Textbooks;
- New Grade 3-12 Social Studies Textbooks;
- New High School Physics, Honors, Chemistry, Biology and Earth Science Textbooks;
- NMSI grant ($750,000) used to align and increase the rigor of the science, math and English curriculum District-wide. The terms of the three-year grant require the District to contribute $25,000 annually for the life of the grant to be used for staff development. 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; and
- Assessment to Instruction (A2i) grant that will be used to help all students in the District reading at or above grade level by the end of third grade. A2i is an instructional tool that was developed and evaluated for more than a decade with the support of the Institute of Educational Sciences and the National Institutes of Health. It combines technology and
professional development to accomplish the goal of increased literacy of children in grades K-3. Highland Elementary will be 100 percent funded and State Street Elementary will be
50 percent funded through the program. Only 174 schools in the nation were invited to participate in the grant program.
“Some of these textbooks date back to 1990,” said Mr. Doug McCausland, Director of District Operations. The new math series is budgeted at $95,832 and the Science textbooks total $116,000. The District is able to pay for the Social Studies textbooks, totaling $61,048, over a two-year period.
Under the direction of AASD Facilities Manager Mr. David Matzie, more than $600,000 in capital improvements are built into the new budget and include:
- Locker replacement at Middle School - $89,720
- Patching at Economy Elementary - $150,000
Flooring and Window Coverings at Middle School - $56,490
- Stage Lighting at Middle School - $40,000
- Bridge repairs at High School - $75,000
- Bathroom replacements/upgrades at Middle School - $276,500
- Bathroom sink sensors and mixing valves at High School - $11,500
- Gymnasium painting, backboards and lighting at Middle School - $120,000
- Furniture replacement at Middle School - $75,000
“We’re moving in the right direction. We’re attacking maintenance issues that haven’t been addressed in years,” said Dr. Jo Welter, Superintendent. “We’re making use of the staff we have and taking care of the facilities we have while being good stewards of taxpayer money.”
The $49.49 million budget includes a millage increase of 2.1409 mills, or 2.7 percent. With the increase, the new millage rate will be 81.435 mills. One mill in the District generates approximately $267,000 in tax revenue. The median assessed value for a home in AASD is $23,450. With the new millage rate, the increased tax liability will be $50.21 annually.
“No district likes to adopt a budget with a tax increase,” said Dr. Welter. “We have done a lot to reduce costs within reason but are left with the reality that a tax increase is necessary if we want to provide a quality education to our students.”
Among the cost-saving efforts the District made prior to presenting the final budget included:
- Reducing, through attrition, five professional staffing positions, at a savings of $743,028;
- Anticipated profits of the AASD Food Services Department of an estimated $150,000;
- Savings in health insurance costs through the transition to the Allegheny School Health Consortium.
The 2018-2019 budget is available on the District website here.
Ambridge Area Middle School will have a familiar face at the helm when doors are opened for the 2018-2019 School Year.
Ambridge Area School Board of Directors approved the transfer of Mr. Thomas McKelvey to the position of Middle School Principal at the June 13 meeting. He currently serves in the position of State Street Elementary Principal. He will begin his new role as Middle School Principal on July 1.
Mr. McKelvey holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, Special Education and Middle School Level Science from Slippery Rock University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He received his Master of Science in Education, K-12 Principal Certification from California University and most recently has been accepted into the Doctoral Program at Point Park University.
He began his professional career in the Beaver Area School District as a special education and general educator, and also served as a Behavior Consultant for the Watson Institute. He also has served as an Assistant Principal at Woodland Hills Academy (K-8). Mr. McKelvey is certified in Crisis Prevention Intervention.
His awards and honors include but are not limited to: Discovery Educator’s Network Star Educator, PTA Extra Care for Kids Award Recipient, Distinguished Service and Scholastic Excellence Award, Community Service Recognition Award and Golden Key International Honor Society.
“We are pleased to have Mr. McKelvey continue to serve the Ambridge Area School District,” said Dr. Jo Welter, Superintendent. “He is a caring and committed educator. He is a person of great integrity. He will serve the students, teachers and community of our new middle school with enthusiasm and dedication.”
Mrs. Jo Ann Hoover, current principal at Highland Elementary School, was approved for a transfer to fill the position being vacated by Mr. McKelvey at State Street Elementary. Her starting date is yet to be determined.
Mrs. Hoover is a graduate of Slippery Rock University, with Bachelor degrees in Elementary and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Special Education degree from Duquesne University and Principal Certification from Slippery Rock University. She previously served in the Pittsburgh Public School System for 24 years. She is a certified trainer for Therapeutic Crisis Intervention. During her tenure at Highland Elementary, she implemented a schoolwide positive behavior support program, which reduced the number of discipline referrals and suspensions. “She will provide stability and continuity for State Street as Mr. McKelvey transitions to the Middle School,” said Dr. Welter. “We are very fortunate to have her expertise.”
The Board also approved the hiring of Dr. Laura Burns to fill the position being vacated by Mrs. Hoover at Highland Elementary School. Her starting date is yet to be determined.
Dr. Burns earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Master of Arts degree in Teaching from the University of Pittsburgh. She received a Master of Public Management with a concentration in Educational Leadership from Carnegie Mellon University. Most recently, she received her Doctor of Education and Superintendent Letter of Eligibility from the University of Pittsburgh. She previously served as a Social Studies teacher in the Baldwin Whitehall School District and as an Assistant Principal at both the Carlynton Junior-Senior High School and the Pine-Richland High School.
Dr. Burns’ professional honors include: memberships on the Pennsylvania State Social Studies Curriculum Committee and the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh Study Tour. Also, Dr. Burns was a recipient of the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia Grant.
“Dr. Burns is committed to improving teaching and learning in the Ambridge Area School District,” said Dr. Welter. “We are pleased to have her as a part of our team.”
During the 2018 Commencement Ceremony, held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at Ambridge High School, four new members of the Ambridge Hall of Honor were inducted.
Superintendent Dr. Jo Welter introduced the four new inductees. They are:
Dr. Ken Cirka-1989 Graduate
Dr. Cirka is a 1989 graduate of the AASD. Dr. Cirka received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Grove City College and a Master of Arts degree from Slippery Rock University. He attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, where he received his Doctorate of Dental Medicine. Dr. Cirka is a cosmetic dentist who was named "Best of Philadelphia," America's Best Dentist,Life MagazineTop Dentist and a six-year recipient of Consumer Research Council's Top Dentist award he is the senior dentist and owner of Philadelphia Dentistry.
In addition, Dr. Cirka is a philanthropist and is active with the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, American Cancer Society, Feeding America and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Additional volunteerism and charity include Mom and PA dental, Purses Full of Hope, AIDSWalk, Have a Heart, Feeding America and Share Food Program.
Mrs. Karen Larrimer-1980 Graduate
Mrs. Karen (Petcash) Larrimer, a 1980 AASD graduate, received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Point Park University. She is currently the executive vice president, head of retail banking and chief customer officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. Mrs. Larrimer is the first female chairwoman of the board for the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and a board and executive committee member of the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.
Mrs. Larrimer has been recognized as one of the Most Powerful Women in Banking byAmerican BankerMagazine (2017, 2016, ,2015); was selected to receive a Most Powerful and Influential Woman Award by the National Diversity Council's Pennsylvania Awards Committee (2014); and was a finalist for the 2014 Athena Award. She received the Girl Scouts of America Award of Distinction in Business (2013) and was named "Mother of the Year" (2010) by the national publicationWorking Mother.She also was named a"Women Worth Watching"byDiversity Journalin 2009 and was one of the Best 50 Women in Business in Pennsylvania in 2003.
Capt. Charles D. Rowley-1952 Graduate
Capt. Charles D. Rowley is receiving this honor posthumously. A 1952 graduate, Capt. Rowley retired after 30 years of service in the United States Navy. After graduating from the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School, he completed seven deployments, including two tours of duty and more than 160 missions during the Vietnam War. The Commanding Officer of the Naval Training Center from 1985 to 1990, Capt. Rowley was responsible for 1,300 people. He also was the Director of Computer Resources and Avionics with the Navy as well as the principal and chairman of the Joint Services Review Committee for Avionics.
Capt. Rowley's personal service awards include: the Distinguished Flying Cross; Meritorious Service Medal; National Defense Medal; Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross; Armed Services Expeditionary Medal; and 12 Air Medal Strike/Flight Awards.
Ms. Rhonda Wozniak-1979 Graduate
Ms. Rhonda Wozniak is a 1979 AASD graduate. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Art History from the University of Colorado at Denver; her Master of Arts Degree in Art Conservation from the State University of New York, College at Buffalo; and her Certificate of Advanced Studies in the Conservation of Marine Archaeological Objects at the Western Australian Maritime Museum. Ms. Wozniak was the objects conservator and only female crew member aboard the 1994 RMS Titanic expedition that recovered over 400 artifacts from the shipwreck under the direction of IFREMER, the French Oceanographic Institute. The expedition was featured as a National Geographic documentary. Ms. Wozniak lived and worked in France for two years as the primary conservator to prepare the Titanic objects for world-wide exhibit. Rhonda also held the post of Objects Conservator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh for ten years, and now owns and operates her own MWBE certified art conservation laboratory in Pittsburgh.
The Hall of Honor was established to commend outstanding Ambridge Area School District alumni for their accomplishments, successes, service to others and state or national awards. In order to be eligible for nomination, alumni must meet the following criteria: they must have made a significant community contribution and/or career-related accomplishment. One-time distinctions or awards may be appropriate if they were given at a state or national level. The primary goal of the Hall of Honor is to have our current students aspire to the greatness that other Ambridge Area graduates have achieved," said Dr. Welter. "Those successful graduates add to our greatness and allow us to encourage and motivate current students toward future aspirations."
Information about the Hall of Honor is available here.
What:StandUP Against Bullying Balloon Launch
When: 2 p.m., Thursday, April 12, 2018
Where: Ambridge Area Senior High School (bridge near front entrance)
What You Will See: Ambridge Area High School students are embracing the #ChooseKind movement with an activity designed to get them thinking about the value of being kind to classmates and standing up against bullying. The event is being organized by student Marissa Hooks. Students who participate are asked to write a kind message to another student anonymously on a balloon.
Each balloon costs $1. The balloon-o-grams will be delivered to students during the afternoon activity period on April 12. Students will then take their balloons to the bridge at the front of the school and release them around 2 p.m. to “pay it forward” to others in the community and beyond who will find the balloons – and their kind messages – after their launch.
All proceeds from the event will benefit the Big Brother, Big Sister Organization.
Members of the High School Ecology Club will host a Greener Practices for Sustainable Future Workshop Day from 7:45 a.m. to 2:25 p.m. on Friday, April 13.
The workshop will feature local experts in sustainable and greener practices and will be held in the High School LGI Room. The list of speakers includes:
Jim Hoffman – Apiculturist! AKA Bee Keeper! – 8 a.m.
Art DeMeo – Green Infrastructure and New Trends in Storm Water Management – 9 a.m.
Stacy Chalupiak – Cultivation and Propagation of Daylilies – 10 a.m.
Doris Dumrauf, Orinthologist – Creating a Backyard Wildlife Habitat – 11:45 a.m.
Marjorie DeAngelis and Alicia Stankay – Common Uses for Mint, Lavender, Purslane and Kale – 1 p.m.
Weather permitting, the students will close out the daylong workshop with a Litter Free School Zone activity in which they will pick up trash and other debris from around the High School and dispose of it in an eco-friendly manner.
An additional date for Kindergarten Registration for the 2018-2019 School Year has been set for April 24, 2018. Registration hours are from 4 to 7:30 p.m. at the High School Library, located at 909 Duss Ave., Ambridge, Pa.
Students must be age 5 on or before September 2, 2018, to register for Kindergarten. Registration materials are available on the District Website here.
Please contact Cathy Hopkins to schedule an appointment by calling 724-266-2833, Ext. 1273.
On Wednesday, March 14, students nationwide have expressed their intent to participate in a school walkout protest as an expression of support and solidarity with their peers in Parkland, Fla.
The Ambridge Area School District has not been informed in advance whether our students intend to participate in this nationwide walkout. However, students who opt to participate in the walkout will not be disciplined by Administration provided they remain on campus grounds during the walkout. Should students exit our buildings to participate in the walkout, they will be closely monitored by Administrators and members of the local police, as needed, to ensure their safety.
“We see this as an opportunity for our students to engage in civic activism and to exercise their First Amendment rights, and we support them in this endeavor,” said Ms. Janice Zupsic, High School Principal. “Safety for our students is my main concern. If they remain on school property and gather peacefully, no disciplinary action will be taken.”
The Ambridge Area School District will hold Kindergarten registration for the 2018-2019 school year on March 6-8, 2018.
Registration hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and the schedule will be as follows:
March 6 – Highland Elementary School, 1101 Highland Ave., Ambridge, PA
March 7 – Economy Elementary School, 1000 First Street, Freedom, PA
March 8 – State Street Elementary School, 600 Harmony Road, Baden, PA
Students must be age 5 on or before September 1, 2018 to register for Kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year. Registration materials are available on the District website under About the District/Registration.
Please contact Cathy Hopkins to schedule an appointment by calling 724-266-2833, Ext. 1273.
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.”