This page contains press releases about events and news within the Ambridge Area School District.
Coming hot off their 72-67 win over Quaker Valley, the Ambridge Varsity Boys’ Basketball team received some even more exciting news that could set the momentum for the team as it moves toward the playoffs. The Wright Field House – which has been closed for games since January 2018 due to safety issues with the bleachers – will be reopened in time for the Tuesday, Jan. 22 home game against Central Valley.
The Field House originally closed after the bleachers failed a safety check by the company which installed them originally. At the time, the District was advised by the bleacher manufacturing company that the bleachers would need to be completely replaced at an estimated cost of $400,000. Recently, an alternative repair became available to the District at a cost of $5,000, said Superintendent Dr. Jo Welter.
Athletic Director Mr. Brian Miller said the solution to fixing the existing bleachers came at a recent WPIAL athletic directors’ meeting, when it was suggested that the bleachers could be adequately stabilized for use without total replacement. L-shaped metal plates were installed to support the bleachers, and were secured by 250 bolts. The method was approved by the bleacher manufacturer, Mr. Miller said. Once the work is finished, it will be inspected by the company.
In order to make the repair work, the bleachers will not be able to be closed and will have to remain open at all times. The fix was applied only to one side of the bleachers, so the opposite side of the bleachers will remain unavailable for use. Because the bleachers will need to remain open, it also will reduce the number of available courts in the Field House from three to two. In addition to the bleacher stabilizers, the center court also was refinished.
“It was a great effort on the part of the athletic director and administration to get the Field House reopened for the kids,” said Dr. Welter. “We’re pleased to be able to get this iconic facility reopened in time for our team to finish out the season.”
The Ambridge Area School District Board of School Directors held its annual reorganization meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 5, during which time officers were elected and meeting dates and times were established for 2019.
Mr. Scott Angus was re-elected to the position of Board President. Other Board members re-elected to their positions are: Mrs. Terry Mylan, Vice President and Mrs. Valerie Pedigo, Treasurer. District solicitor is Ms. .Megan Turnbull of Weiss, Burkardt and Kramer and Board Secretary is Mrs. Marianne Salzman.
Board meeting days and times will remain the same for 2019. Meet and Discuss meetings are scheduled for the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. Regular Board meetings are scheduled for the third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. The annual reorganization meeting will be held on Dec. 4, 2019. The location for all School Board meetings is the Ambridge Area High School Library, located on the second floor, unless otherwise noted.
A complete list of meeting dates and times can be found on the AASD website at www.ambridge.k12.pa.us under School Board/Meeting Schedule. The next regularly-scheduled School Board meeting will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2019 in the Ambridge Area High School Library.
The Ambridge Area Board of School Directors has a new member. On Wednesday, Aug. 15, the Board appointed Cathy Fischer to fill the vacancy left when former Board member Kelly Fischer resigned her seat at the July 18 School Board meeting.
The Board received three applications from individuals interested in serving the remainder of Kelly Fisher’s term, which runs through November 2019. Candidate interviews were conducted by the Board prior to the decision to select Cathy Fischer to fill the vacancy.
Cathy Fischer is a parent in the District who has been active in the schools and community. She successfully spearheaded the Highland Elementary School PTO for several years and has established meaningful relationships with local and elected officials to positively benefit the Ambridge Area School District and its students.
“I am a forward-thinking individual who takes initiative to identify challenges,” she said. “My strong passion for our District, my love of public education and my keen ability to build quality relationships within the community will serve as valuable assets to the School Board.”
Mrs. Fischer said she is capable of and willing to “. . . work closely with other Board members and Administrators to create a shared vision for the best possible solutions for a successful District.”
Ambridge School Board President Scott Angus said the Board is fortunate to have someone as dedicated to public education as Mrs. Fischer joining their ranks. “We would like to thank the three individuals who expressed interest in filling the seat,” he said. “We feel confident moving forward that Mrs. Fischer will work diligently to fulfill the best interests of our District and our community.”
Superintendent Dr. Jo Welter said she looks forward to working with Mrs. Fischer in her new role. “Mrs. Fischer is well known in the community as a strong supporter of public education and an advocate for our children,” she said. “As a parent with children in the District, I know she is dedicated to the success of not only her own children, but that of every child in our schools.”
The Ambridge Area Board of School Directors is accepting letters of interest to fill a vacancy on the Board.
The vacancy was created when Board member Kelly Fischer resigned at the July 18 School Board meeting. Fischer, who was not present at the meeting, provided a resignation letter to Board President Scott Angus. Fischer cited work obligations as the reason for her resignation.
“I relish the time I spent serving the school district and I will miss it in the future,” Ms. Fischer said in her resignation letter.
The Pennsylvania School Code outlines the following requirements for candidates wishing to fill school board vacancies:
Must be a citizen;
Must be at least 18 years old;
Must be of good moral character; and
Must be a resident of school district for at least one year prior to the date of election or appointment.
Mr. Angus said the School Board will review all applications for the position at the August 8 meeting, with interviews conducted between August 8-15. A final candidate will be selected at the August 15 meeting. The new Board member will serve the remainder of Ms. Fischer’s term, which expires in November 2019.
A unique program to recycle old fire hose is being used to help ensure the safety and security of students and staff in the Ambridge Area School District.
Thanks to a donation from the Borough of Ambridge and the Ambridge Fire Department, the recycled hose is gaining new life as a way to additionally secure hydraulic doors from being forcefully opened during an active shooter or other emergency situation in which the buildings need to be secured or locked down.
Old sections of the hose are cut down into “sleeves” that are then slipped over the hydraulic hardware of these kinds of doors, locking them in place so they do not open. Each old fire hose can be repurposed to create roughly 100 sleeves. “This is a truly unique way to recycle old fire hose that no longer has a life or service to the Borough anymore,” said Borough Manager Joseph Kauer. “The Borough and the Fire Department are pleased to be able to partner with the District to help provide this added bit of security to their facilities.”
The sleeves are just one of many things the District is doing to keep students and staff safe. Other measures already in place include, but are not limited to:
- Two Police Officers are stationed in the District – one at Ambridge Middle School and one at Ambridge High School – throughout the school day. The officers are available for use throughout the District as needed.
- Exterior doors for all buildings are locked during the school day; all visitors are required to enter and exit through main entrances.
- The District employs the use of the Raptor Visitor Management System in all buildings. Visitors are required to provide state-issued identification upon arrival, which is then used to conduct a brief background check before a visitor is granted admission to District buildings.
- Students at Ambridge Area High School are scanned by metal detectors and bags are searched prior to entry into the building each morning.
- Additional security cameras have been placed in locations throughout the District.
- All employees are required to wear District-issued photo identification badges during the school day.
Superintendent Dr. Jo Welter said the District is appreciative of the additional security feature and the opportunity to work closely with the Borough and Fire Department. “It truly takes a community to keep our children safe. We are appreciative of the efforts of the Borough and the Fire Department to help us with this most important responsibility.”
For more information:
Ambridge Area School District
Media Contact: Shari Berg, Public Relations Consultant
Borough of Ambridge
Media Contact: Joseph Kauer, ICMA-CM
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.