Academy proposal draws varied response in Sto-Rox

March 8, 2012 5:39 am

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A school-within-a-school approach that the Sto-Rox School District is considering for next year has drawn a mixed bag of comments from the community.

About 40 people attended a presentation last Thursday by superintendent Michael Panza about the opt-in program that may be offered in addition to traditional schooling.

Called Sto-Rox Academy, the elementary-level program would include extended school days, a Spanish class and an additional week of class for kindergarten students. School days would be 20 minutes longer with an emphasis on reading skills during the additional time.

The district is considering the academy because it has failed to reach adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law and because private company Propel in the fall proposed a charter school that was later rejected. During his presentation, Mr. Panza noted that any Sto-Rox resident who wants a choice of schools currently has to go outside the district.

Mike Vattimo, parent of a second-grader, said he believes the academy "is necessary for the survival of the school district."

Mr. Vattimo, a teacher in the West Allegheny School District, said he believes education has become a competition and the academy program would hold "parents and kids more responsible."

At the academy, parents would be required to meet with teachers quarterly, and teachers would interact with parents throughout the year using homework planners, phone and email.

The academy also would require regular attendance, strict homework policies, disciplinary limits, student uniforms and a required C, or 2.0, grade average. Students who fail to perform to the expectations could be removed from the program and placed back in the traditional setting.

"If you don't go to work, you don't get paid," Mr. Panza said. "... If they don't come to school, they don't learn."

Sonja Reis, freelance writer:
First Published 2012-03-08 04:41:44

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