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School district prioritizing special education, seeks grants for safety tech

SLIPPERY ROCK TWP — Slippery Rock Area School District’s board of education looked into its special education program Monday.

The district sought an assessment from Key Consulting Group about ways in which the program can improve, said assistant superintendent Susan Miller.

She said the district wants its special education program to be as good as it can be.

“It wasn’t evaluative in the sense that it is good or bad,” Miller said.

The evaluation highlighted areas where the program was succeeding and offered recommendations going forward.

“(It was) along the lines of how do we improve our program,” Miller said.

Some suggestions involved the administrative placement of the director of special services position, Miller said.

Another suggestion involved a more even distribution of time and attention between students, since some students with greater needs may receive more time and attention than other students who were getting overlooked, Miller said.

Safety funding requested

The board also approved requesting grant funds to implement added safety measures within the district.

The board approved a letter requesting help with safety “technology purchases” without disclosing the specific equipment and materials it plans to buy, superintendent Alfonso Angelucci said.

Angelucci cited confidentiality afforded for safety-related matters. The details were discussed during an executive session.

The district was allocated two School Safety and Mental Health grants, each $129,750, Miller said.

STEELS now, instead of STEAM

The board also discussed the potential impact of new science standards published in November that move to using the acronym STEELS instead of STEAM, Miller said.

The new acronym, which will replace Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math, will instead encompass Science, Technology, Engineering, Environmental Literacy and Sustainability.

It’s not yet clear whether the new standards will result in specific curriculum changes, Miller said of the state initiative.

“We’re looking at the new implementation plan, looking at what we already have in place and doing what we call a crosswalk,” Miller said. “Where does it live in our curriculum right now? Do we need to shift it to another grade level or to a new topic, so eventually it might result in different courses?”

It’s a little early to answer some of these questions, but along with the new standards comes an updated science assessment from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Miller said. The district looks to implement any changes in 2025, she said.

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