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Five local school districts will each receive $35,000 grants to integrate computer science education into classroom lessons at all grade levels.
In addition, a $35,000 grant under the Pennsylvania Department of Education's PASmart initiative also has been awarded to the Mon Valley School in Jefferson Hills to provide targeted computer science education to students with special needs.
Duquesne City, East Allegheny, Norwin, South Allegheny and Steel Valley are among 221 school districts receiving the PASmart grants.
“As computer technology continues to evolve, it is important that students can experience and learn new computer skills first hand,” state Sen. Jim Brewster said in a prepared statement. “I am pleased that students in our area will benefit from Pennsylvania’s grants dedicated to improving computer science programs in local schools.”
According to the state Education Department, within the next decade, seven of 10 new jobs in Pennsylvania will require computer skills.
PASmart grants are designed to improve computer science curriculums in schools serving students from low-income families.
The grants are designed to pay for classroom materials as well as teacher training, state Rep. Austin Davis said in a prepared statement.
“By enhancing computer science programs in schools, we’re laying the groundwork to future success,” Davis said. “The skills acquired from these programs will last for years to come in an environment that relies heavily on technology.”
Davis and Brewster said that Pennsylvania is currently ranked second in the nation for state funding in computer science and other so-called STEM --- science, technology, engineering and math --- fields at the kindergarten through 12th grade levels.
In addition to the public school districts, also receiving PASmart grants in this round of funding are two career and technical centers, 18 charter schools and eight intermediate units.
Mon Valley School is one of three schools operated by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. It serves 215 special-needs students in K-12 from school districts throughout Western Pennsylvania.
AIU spokeswoman Sarah McCluan said the school plans to develop a new computer science vocational program as well as computer science/STEAM classes for students in all grades.
All students, "including those with disabilities, must have basic computer science skills in order to be successful in today’s workforce," said Rosanne Javorsky, the AIU’s interim executive director, in a prepared statement.
The school's goal is part of a larger vision to provide students with disabilities the same educational opportunities as they would find in a traditional classroom, AIU said.
“We are excited to bring equity and access in computer science education to our students with severe disabilities,” said Stephanie Paolucci, assistant principal at Mon Valley School, in a prepared statement.
Editor's Note: This story was written entirely from press releases.
Originally published January 18, 2019.