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Carlynton officials talk grants and special needs programming

By Sam Bigham

During the Oct. 18 school board meeting, Carlynton directors heard reports from various administrators learning about grant awards and steps being taken by the district to improve the educational experience of special needs students in the district.

Additionally, directors approved a deal with Keystone Sports Construction to assess Honus Wagner Stadium and the fields at the Jr./Sr. High School.

A feasibility study will be conducted to prepare designs and projected costs. Superintendent John Kreider said the “stadium has some challenges, and we feel that we need to go through and address those issues.”

Special needs

Pupil Transition Services Coordinator Gerald Pepe obtained a grant to create a Practical Assessment Explorations System Lab for students with special needs. The PAES Lab is a career training program that teaches vocational and independent living skills. Several fields are taught in the lab. Loughren described the program as a “mini-job site” that is “very intensive” and is “driven by assessment on how the student does in each domain.”

Director of Special Education and Pupil Services, Sarah Hoffman, announced a new partnership with Mon Valley Career & Technology Center. This program will teach vocational skills to Carlynton students and is different from Parkway West in that it is geared toward students with special needs. Hoffman described this program as more flexible and meeting students where they are at the moment.

Dina Mitchell held the first meeting of the Best Buddies this year with almost 20 students participating. Related to Best Buddies is the Special Olympics program in which Carlynton will enter a partnership with Baldwin and Elizabeth Forward High Schools. Flag Football will now be available as part of the Special Olympics.

‘Free Store’

Carlynton was awarded an IMPACT Grant to support the Carnegie Elementary Free Store.

The Free Store “relies heavily on the volunteer work of both our students and our teachers,” said Kreider, who also highlighted the store’s importance as it provides “food and other basic supplies.”

Jack Kobistek, the former mayor of Carnegie and current Allegheny County magistrate, thanked Carnegie teachers, Don Alexander and Mary Campbell, and others for their work on The Free Store. Kobistek referred to it and the accompanying free summer lunch program as a “true community coordination.” The “Grab and go” lunches were provided on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with a weekend meal kit being provided on Fridays.

The federal government originally funded the program during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that funding was not available until recently and is not guaranteed in future summers. The program cost more than $9,000 and was made possible with the help of several organizations including St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Carnegie resident Sam Bigham attends Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he serves as news editor of student news source “The Penn.”


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