Ford City firemen respond to the emergency situation at the Spic-N-Span dry cleaning plant in Ford City yesterday morning.
by Jonathan Weaver
A Ford City fire that blew out several windows along 5th Avenue yesterday morning did not cause any injuries.
Shortly after 9:30AM, six fire companies responded to Spic `n Span Cleaners near the corner of 5th Avenue and 11th Street – a block away from Ford City Junior-Senior High School.
Fire Chief Scott Gaiser said all employees were safe outside the building and made a preliminary determination on the cause.
“It appears that one of their dryers exploded,” Gaiser said. “There were no injuries, but it did a lot of damage to the building.
“Everybody got out OK – most of the damage was to the back of the building in the alley.”
Gaiser said there was significant fire damage to the back room the dryer was in.
In fact, there was no smoke damage to the front facing 5th Avenue, also known as Pennsylvania Route 128.
Fire crews on-scene approached the situation with caution and called the County Hazardous Operations Support Team for assistance.
“We weren’t sure what type of cleaning solutions they used and if they posted any hazard or anything. But, we pulled out the paperwork on it and went through it with (County Public Safety Director) Randy Brozenick, we determined everything was safe and we could just flush it down the storm sewers,” Gaiser said.
The business is owned by William Toy.
5th Avenue was shut down because of the water lines spread across the street
Firefighters from Ford City, Ford Cliff, Manor Township and all three Kittanning departments – Hose Company #1, #4 and #6 – responded for increased manpower. Ford City was on-scene about two hours.
Gaiser was unsure how the explosion would affect the business’ hours going into this weekend.
Crews were already boarding up windows to keep ice and snow out of the structure when fire fighters were cleaning up.
Armstrong School District Coordinator of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment and Accountability Dr. Shauna Braun-Zukowski presents a pie chart of the breakdown of the Pennsylvania Department of Education school performance profile results during October’s school board open caucus session. At that time, school administration requested schools be withheld due to need for recalculation but they have all been revealed in the past few days.
by Jonathan Weaver
Academic score evaluations made by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) based on last year’s scores are no longer being scrutinized by Armstrong School District administration.
Department Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq updated www.paschoolperformance.org Wednesday with scores from 620 schools statewide, including several pieces of information for the Armstrong School District attendance areas and all scores for the West Shamokin attendance area.
In addition, the data used to calculate the profile scores as well as federal accountability reports for public schools, local education agencies and the state are available.
“Today’s update completes the School Performance Profile for the 2012-13 school year,” Dumaresq said. “Students, parents, educators and the general public can now view academic performance of all Pennsylvania public schools as well as compare results to neighboring schools and schools across the state.”
The fact that that information is all available is OK by school administration, as Coordinator of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment and Accountability Dr. Shauna Braun-Zukowski shared with the Kittanning Paper in a press release. Superintendent Stan Chapp and other administrators requested corrections and recalculation shortly after the results were first posted.
“We are pleased with the corrected information that the state has provided to us as a district in regards to the School Performance Profile,” the press release began. “The Armstrong School District performance profile will serve as an analysis tool to inform goal setting, planning, and allocating resources to meet the new measures established by the state. ASD will now work with the data to plan for the future to meet the new targets set by the state in relation to our baseline scores.”
Profiles released in October then and now show Shannock Valley Elementary, Lenape Elementary and West Hills Primary Schools with the top grades in the district– all with scores at 81 or higher.
The other two district elementary schools (Dayton Elementary and Elderton Elementary) were less than five points back.
The district’s next four secondary schools (Kittanning Junior High, Ford City Junior-Senior High, Kittanning Senior High and West Shamokin Junior – Senior High) ranked high academically than West Hills Intermediate.
The results statewide indicate that 2,181, or nearly 73 percent, of public schools received a 70 or higher. The four Armstrong School District secondary schools did not reach the 70 benchmark, all signified with yellow downward arrows.
“The majority of public schools across the commonwealth are doing well and preparing their students to be successful adults,” Dumaresq said. “I am confident that we will see schools improving year after year now that a new educator effectiveness system and meaningful academic standards and assessments are in place.”
The local administrative press release pointed out, however, that none of the ASD buildings are designated as “Priority Schools”- the lowest five percent – ,“Focus Schools” – the lowest 10 percent – or had a graduation rate below 60 percent.
PDE will deploy Academic Recovery Liaisons to federally designated
“Priority” schools in an effort to improve education in Pennsylvania’s lowest-performing schools. An Early Warning System is expected to be available to all Pennsylvania public schools in the 2014-15 school year to assist with high school students.
Ford City Senior High actually achieved a 90 percent graduation rate.
“All ASD buildings are classified as undesignated which encompasses 75 percent of the districts in the state. We will now work within each building to utilize our baseline scores toward further growth,” the press release stated. “We will work collectively to move the district forward to a higher level. It is important to note that the scores for the Keystone and PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) (tests) can’t be compared at the secondary level because they are different tests and serve for informational purposes.”
To improve, administrators indicated their willingness to guide initiatives on focused professional development for teachers and administrators, goal setting, after school tutoring that focuses on PSSA and Keystone remediation, curriculum mapping, and focused centered lesson planning in regards to student learning.
Released in October, the School Performance Profile helps to provide the public with detailed information of the academic performance of public schools, satisfy requirements of Pennsylvania’s approved federal No Child Left Behind waiver and as part of the state’s new educator evaluation system.
The profile measures of student achievement, such as student academic growth from year to year, attendance rate and increasing the achievement of all students in addition to results on the statewide assessments.
“The results are promising and, at the same, demonstrate the continuing need for improvement and innovation,” Dumaresq said.
The Standards Aligned System (SAS), accessible by visiting
www.pdesas.org assists schools in improving student achievement.
Across Armstrong County, Apollo-Ridge High School, Chicora Elementary School (in the Karns City Area School District) and Redbank Valley Primary School also received below a 70 score
Freeport Area High scored an above-average 90.8 rating and the now-closed Washington Elementary in the Kiski Area School District received a 95.1. Students now attend Upper Elementary near the same campus.