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Grants awarded to 6 local schools for STEM classes

Six local school districts will each receive $35,000 to expand computer science and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education in their elementary, middle and high schools as well as provide for professional development for teachers. The grants, totalling $20 million are the next phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s new PAsmart initiative, it was announced by State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock recently.

“These grants will help provide our area students with new technological opportunities for learning and prepare for success in high demand careers,” Yaw said. “Additionally, our school districts are continually working to enhance their tech infrastructure, so these added investments provided by the state are most welcome.

Local districts receiving the grants are: East Lycoming, Jersey Shore Area, Loyalsock Township, Montoursville Area, Muncy and South Williamsport Area.

Plans are to use the funds to train elementary teachers in the district to do computer coding, according to Michael Pawlik, superintendent of East Lycoming. They also plan to purchase spheros, programmable robots.

Pawlik said the district was pleased at receiving the grant.

“It’s for the good of the kids,” he said.

Dwight A. Woodley, director of Innovative Learning and Information Systems for the South Williamsport Area School District, says the grant will provide for training personnel, four teachers and himself. He noted that $10,000 must be used for training and the remainder for purchasing STEM-related equipment in the classroom.

“Our grant is to expand innovative approaches to high quality computer and STEM education across the commonwealth, which is what the governor is pushing for right now,” Woodley said.

“In 2017, there were over 17,000 computer-related jobs in the state that went unfilled. Most of those have an average salary of $85,000,” he told the board. “Most of that has to do with because most high school education programs offer limited availability of computer coding.”

In all, 221 districts across the state, two career and technical centers, 18 charter and cyber charter schools and eight intermediate units each will receive the grants.

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