Office of the Superintendent
While it is our nature to celebrate end results, achievement, and success, there’s something distinctly special about the process of starting something new. Hope and promise spring eternal for all teams on the opening day of the baseball season. New Year’s Day is a celebration of personal renewal and testimony to the power of optimism. And here in the Penn-Trafford School District, the start of a new school year marks more than just the end of summer for students and families. Much like an unblemished canvas to an artist or a blank page to an author, August 25th in Penn-Trafford is a day circled on the family calendar when all things are possible and the future has yet to be created. And we embrace that.
Through all the challenges and despite the many obstacles over the past two years, we as a district learned many things, not the least of which was that in-person education remains the best way to reach and teach our children. A preliminary analysis of available assessment data from last year points to the fact that PTSD students performed better than expected, coming off the myriad of disruptions in learning stemming from COVID, which is encouraging news as we look to continue to build back this year. Students improved last year, and we anticipate even greater progress this year.
Penn-Trafford will continue to stay the course in 2022-23 regarding instructional programming and curriculum. Our goal, as always, is to meet the students where they are and move them forward with customized learning opportunities targeted to their needs. Following a successful pilot program last year in McCullough Elementary School, Penn-Trafford will expand its computer science curriculum in 2022-23 to grades 1-2 by introducing a new Code.org computer science program in all five elementary buildings. This new initiative underscores the district’s longstanding commitment to STEM and developing critical thinking and problem-solving abilities that effectively translate across the curriculum.
Our students continue to benefit from a 1:1 student-to-Chromebook ratio districtwide. Google Classroom platforms will continue to provide a flexible instruction management tool. Penn-Trafford High School will now have new CNC technology to enhance the school’s CADD/Engineering program capabilities. Under the leadership and direction of Assistant Superintendent Scott Inglese, these are among the many innovative ways PTSD is leveraging the transformative power of technology to enhance education and change the way our students learn and how our educators teach.
Major facility renovations include the completion of a new roofing system at McCullough Elementary School for 2022-23. The district is pleased to announce a new 5-year contract with our transportation provider, First Student. PTHS also recently renewed its contract with the food service provider, ARAMARK, a partnership that has resulted in a wider spectrum of quality choices, a greater lunch participation rate, and enhanced profitability. PTSD is pleased to report the hiring of 9 teachers and 3 additional district staff members for the upcoming school year and we salute the countless contributions of our retiring employees as they begin a new chapter in life.
The 2022-23 district budget calls for a 1.5 mill tax increase, driven largely by increased personnel costs and other factors, including installing a new track surface at Warrior Stadium. District officials report continued significant growth in new housing starts, driving enrollment spikes at both McCullough and Sunrise Estates Elementary schools.
Penn-Trafford School District conducted a third-party site vulnerability assessment before the beginning of the school year. All district buildings were part of the assessment, which was performed by the Western Pennsylvania All Hazard Fusion Center in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In addition, the district has retained all building security personnel, including armed School Resource Officers (SROs), from the 2021-22 school year, which lends continuity and experience to our comprehensive school safety efforts.
As part of our ongoing career awareness initiatives, PTSD is promoting career & technical education opportunities via our partnership with the Central Westmoreland Career & Technology Center (CWCTC). This year, approximately 110 Penn-Trafford high school students interested in exploring technical education will attend CWCTC to help meet the pervasive labor shortages in the trades and other high-demand occupations here in Pennsylvania.
What makes Penn-Trafford exceptional? Everything. What I mean by that statement is that the district fosters not only the student’s advancement but the individual’s development. The result is the incredible success of PTHS students in areas such as athletics, the arts, music, community service, and academic-based competitions. For the first time in our 50-year history, the Penn-Trafford Warrior football squad brought home a WPIAL title and a State Championship in football last fall. While our Warriors were hoisting the championship hardware, they also succeeded in uplifting school culture and, in many respects, elevating the entire community.
As we embark on a new beginning this year, we salute our leaders throughout the district, starting with our Board of School Directors, who do an exceptional job of balancing the needs of Penn-Trafford students with the best interests of its taxpayers. We in the Penn-Trafford School District look forward to embracing our culture of achievement, employing the lessons of readiness and resiliency that we’ve learned over the past few years, and engaging our talents, resources, and can-do attitude in a collective effort to do great things. We invite you to celebrate with us as we begin anew.
Dr. Matthew Harris