Governor Rendell’s plan to consolidate school districts in Pennsylvania is a good idea and makes “Common Cents.”
• Area districts have merged, becoming the Shenango Valley Area School District (SVASD). There is one superintendent, saving millions of dollars in administration costs. Highly qualified principals with a minimum of 5 years’ classroom teaching experience manage each building.
• All building renovation and construction in SVASD meets U.S. Green Building Council’s healthy, high performance building standards.
• These green, energy efficient schools have indoor air quality monitoring, increased natural day lighting and acoustic control. Only certified, non-toxic green cleaning products are used resulting in healthier buildings. Absenteeism has been reduced, fewer students use inhalers in school, and academic performance by both students and staff has improved.
• The merger has led to the creation of “career-based education.”
• The currently empty Hermitage Middle School is now the SVA Academy of Excellence. This modernized school houses advanced placement classes. Many SVA Academy students also attend morning or afternoon college classes at Penn State-Shenango or other area colleges as schedules allow.
• Other SVASD schools are career-oriented and offer all the basic courses, including art and music, but are specialized and known as SVA Technical School; SVA School of Fine Arts; SVA School of Trades; and SVA School of Business to name a few.
• SVASD saves money on bulk purchasing of books, technical equipment, school supplies, green cleaning products, and shares busing and catering services.
• Each student has an individualized, four-year career plan that includes internships or mentoring programs. All students meet the “Dress for Success” code and don’t mind.
• Teachers are happy because students want to take their classes. Students are happy because they have ownership for their education which is meaningful to their lives and future careers. Administrators are happy because teachers and students are more successful.
I think this plan makes Common Cents, and the best part, No Child is Left Behind.