By Jamie Wiggan
The Sto-Rox school board is back to full strength after directors appointed Adrienne Roberts to fulfill the remainder of former director Shyanne Rippole’s vacated term during the Jan. 28 legislative meeting.
Roberts, a Stowe resident, won the nomination by a 5-3 margin over Dan Sleva, another Stowe resident who sought the position.
During her interview at the previous week’s caucus session, Roberts told the board she would draw on her experience as a program director at Focus on Renewal to help meet the needs of the district.
“I see the issues a lot of the families face on a day to day basis and my job is to help them navigate those issues,” Roberts said.
“[My job is to ask]…how can I help them help themselves?”
Having previously served on the school board several years back, Roberts said she recognizes the commitment required by the volunteer position.
“This takes more than just showing up on Thursday nights for two hours,” she said.
Roberts will fill the remaining portion of the Stowe region-two seat created by Shyanne Rippole’s December resignation. The term expires in December 2021.
Roberts’ arrival on the board follows several other appointments that have changed the board’s make up from an 8-1 white majority to a 5-4 black majority during the past 12 months.
According to Pennsylvania Department of Education data, more than 70% of Sto-Rox students are black or multi-racial.
In another change to board personnel, long-time solicitor Lisa Colautti of Weiss, Burkardt, Kramer announced she will be stepping down from her role at the district due to a career change. AnneMarie Harr, also of Weiss, Burkardt, Kramer, will take Colautti’s place moving forward.
“[Harr is] a very experienced school solicitor — she’s a great fit and I wish you all the best for the district,” Colautti said.
Presenting at the Jan. 21 caucus meeting, administrators discussed plans to develop new after-school programming in partnership with Ohio-based non-profit Inspiring Minds.
Founded in Youngstown, Inspiring Minds now has chapters in several states and will partner with the Sto-Rox district as part of a recent push to reach the Pittsburgh area.
The program works by connecting a network of volunteers with school districts to offer mentorship and extra-curricular programming.
“[Superintendent Frank Dalmas] always says our building gets dark at four o’clock and our kids need something to do,” said Sam Weaver, assistant high school principal.
“…I believe this is going to be an unbelievable game changer for our school, for our community, for the kids, for the district.”
Also during the Jan. 28 meeting, directors approved grants totaling $13,000 from the PPG Foundation to fund innovation in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programming.
In total, 12 teachers contributed to the grant application, which — among other things — will furnish the district with programmable robots, 3D printers and iPads.