New school year brings changes to Towanda School District
TOWANDA - There were some significant changes facing Towanda Area School District students as they returned to school on Wednesday.
A new class schedule at Towanda Junior/Senior High, which lengthens class periods by 20 percent, was implemented on Wednesday, and, in the coming weeks, every student in grades 5 to 8 will be provided with a Windows 8 computer tablet, Towanda School District administrators said.
The tablets are being issued at no charge to the students, Superintendent Steven Gobble said.
The issuing of the tablets "is the first step of a three-year plan to put a personal device in the hands of all students in grades 3 to 12," he said.
The school district's goal is to provide a computer tablet to all students in grades 3 to 12 over the next three years, he said.
The provision of tablets to children in grades 5 to 8 is intended to "infuse technology into our courses, in an attempt to engage our students," said Dennis Peachey, junior/senior high school principal.
Using the tablets, students in grades 5 to 8 will be able to access the Internet, including educational sites, and download apps, Peachey said. The tablets will be loaded with Microsoft Office software, which includes word-processing software, he said.
Initially, students will not be able to take the tablets home, Gobble said. However, there is a possibility that students would be able to take them home in the future, he said.
The tablets were purchased using school district funds and funds from the district's federally-funded Keystone to Opportunities grant, Gobble said.
Under the new schedule at the junior/senior high school, classes last 48 minutes, which is eight minutes longer than they were in the past, Gobble said. The last period of the day, though, will be 30 minutes long, as it was under the previous schedule.
The new schedule gives students "a little extra instructional time, Peachey has said.
By adding 8 minutes per class, over the course of a year each student will receive an extra 24 hours of class time in each course, Peachey has said.
The new schedule also reduces the number of periods per day from 10 to nine.
The implementation of the new schedule on Wednesday "went very well," Gobble said.
As was the case last year, Towanda School District teachers are starting the school year without a labor contract in place.
The teachers' previous contract with the district ended on Sept. 1, 2013.
The district is continuing to negotiate with the teachers, Gobble said.
Julie Larson, who is beginning a new job in the Towanda School District as a new 6th-grade teacher, is actually very familiar with the Towanda School District's campus.
Larson is a graduate of Towanda High School and has spent the last nine years teaching in the Scranton School District, Gobble said.
Towanda Area School District is pleased to announce the appointment of Jonathan Sayre as the district's new technology education teacher, Gobble said. Sayre is an experienced teacher who had taught the previous six years at Blue Ridge High School in New Milford, Pa., he said.
There are approximately 1,600 students enrolled this year in the Towanda School District, Gobble said.
Last year, there were 1,583 students enrolled, which is the lowest number in the school district's history, he said.
Gobble said Wednesday afternoon that he had heard from the district's three principals, who reported that it was "smooth sailing" on the first day of school.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.