TOWANDA - As schools opened on Tuesday in the Towanda Area School District, administrators said the biggest change this year will be the implementation of a federally-funded Keystone to Opportunities literacy grant, which is providing $681,382 to the school district this year.

"It's our highest priority this year," Superintendent Steven Gobble said.

The award of the grant was announced last spring, and since then, many teachers have started receiving training in teaching literacy and other literacy initiatives, and will continue to receive professional development training in those areas over the course of the school year, said Jennifer Farley, the district's new elementary principal.

Using the grant, two new positions have been added in the district to work with teachers and students in grades pre-K to 8: a data liaison, who will work on student assessment, and a literacy coach, Farley said. And literacy initiatives will also be implemented this year, Gobble said.

While the grant is only supposed to be used in grades pre-kindergarten through 8, the district will also be using some of what it learns about literacy to improve students' reading and writing skills in grades 9 through 12, said Dennis Peachey, principal of Towanda Junior/Senior High School.

In addition to the literacy grant, some changes in the curriculum have taken place at the elementary school level this year in the Towanda School District.

Specifically, a library research class is being implemented this year at the Towanda Area Elementary School, which all students in grades 3 to 6 will take on one day per week over the course of this year, Farley said.

Also, a second music class has been added at the J. Andrew Morrow Primary School, so all students at the school will now have music twice per week, she said.

While enrollment numbers in the school district are not finalized yet, at this time they are not expected to be much different than they were last year, according to Gobble and Farley.

The start of the school year went smoothly on Tuesday, administrators said.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: