WASD awarded grants to expand computer training

Williamsport Area School District and Intermediate Unit No. 17 each have been awarded $35,000 PASmart targeted grants to be used to expand computer science programming and training in the local districts. The announcement came from the office of Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township.

According to Timothy S. Bowers, superintendent of the Williamsport Area School District, the district will use the funds to add an advanced placement computer science course to the 15 AP courses now offered by the high school.

“The development and delivery of the College Board AP Computer Science course is unique to the area and demonstrates the school district’s commitment to academic excellence and pursuit of leading-edge curriculum,” Bowers said.

“The grant will enhance the multiple STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities within WASD and prepare our students with the skills and abilities to meet the economic needs of the 21st century,” Bowers added.

The grant will provide seed money to get the course, which will be offered to students beginning next year, off the ground, according to Greg Hayes, the district’s director of public relations.

Other local school districts receiving grants were Mifflinburg, Canton, Towanda and Lewisburg.

IU 17, which also received a grant, serves over 2,600 students in Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan and Tioga counties.

Christina Steinbacher-Reed, executive director of IU 17, also detailed how the grants will be used.

“These funds will be used to equip three IU 17 programs with a STEM lab space and tools, which will prepare our students with the computational thinking skills necessary to contribute to a technology-driven workforce. Students impacted by these monies attend the BSI Partial Hospitalization Program and BLaST Academies for Integrated Studies located in both Lycoming and Bradford counties,” Steinbacher-Reed said.

In total $40 million have been secured this year for PASmart grants and the state’s department of education is expected to award $20 million between the targeted and advancing grants.

On announcing the grant awards, Yaw stated that the “state investments in STEM-based education and computer science enable us to continue to build a highly-skilled workforce across Pennsylvania.”