Difference Making: A Story of Hope and Restoration in Duquesne City School District
In 2007, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) identified Duquesne as financially distressed, placing the district under state receivership.
A few critical moves have helped chart a new course for Duquesne City School District.
With determination and resilience, the Duquesne City School District community knows anything is attainable with everyone’s continued help and support.
Duquesne City School District is a small, marginalized district located just 12 miles outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania city limits. The student enrollment is 430 spanning grades K-7 and 100% of students receive free breakfast and lunch. The district has had its share of past challenges, but an amazing Cinderella story is now being written.
Duquesne’s past problems began in 2007 when the district was identified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) as financially distressed, placing the district under state receivership. At that time, due to a lack of funds and the inability to provide a holistic education, PDE closed the high school and determined those students would attend school in two neighboring school districts. In 2012, 7th and 8th-grade students were also displaced to nearby schools, further diminishing any hope of returning to a full K-12 school district.
Today, Duquesne City School District is the first district in Pennsylvania’s history to welcome 7th graders back to the district after secondary students were displaced. The district is poised to see 8th graders return in Fall 2022. However, this is only the beginning. Welcoming high school students back will take years of continuously improving finances and a stronger resource base, but the district is on a trajectory to make this a reality.
The Duquesne City School District exhibits a renewed sense of hope and sees the promise of a brighter future. It has not been an easy path but try telling anyone in this school district that they can’t restore the power of the community – a proud K-12 school district. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the district has now shed its negative labels and is truly a difference-maker.
Unlike other districts across the region and state, Duquesne is not a CSI (Comprehensive School Improvement), TSI (Targeted School Improvement), or ATSI (Additional Targeted School Improvement), according to ESSA. The absence of these labels and designations is indicative of the transformation in progress and a shining example of what the collective efforts of key stakeholders and supporters can accomplish.
The Path Forward
A few critical moves have helped chart a new course for Duquesne City School District:
– Beginning in 2016, members of the administration and staff wrote STEAM grants that enabled the district to repurpose old spaces and turn them into four STEAM-focused classrooms: Creation Station geared towards Pre-K-2; the Boiler Room for grades 3-6; and a Coding and Robotics Lab for all grades.
The former elementary library is now a new media center complete with a student studio.
– In Fall 2021, in collaboration with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and a PA Smart Grant, a new STEM makerspace for 7th and 8th graders was created.
– New superintendent, Dr. Sue Mariani, and the leadership team have ensured the community that the right people are on the bus and in all the right seats.
– A new curriculum aligned to state standards coupled with additional support and resources is a major component of moving the district forward.
Far From Over
The return of 7th and 8th-grade students will mark the return of our participation in interscholastic athletics. Sadly, the stadium facility is in dire need of repairs and the football and baseball fields require major work before they can be considered safe for competitive play.
So, as the Duquesne City School District works to restore equity in classrooms and provide all students opportunities and access, the team at Duquesne will remain diligent in its efforts to renovate athletic facilities and restore the pride and excitement that comes with participation in team sports.
With determination and resilience, the Duquesne City School District community knows anything is attainable with everyone’s continued help and support. Hope and restoration are alive and well in the Duquesne City School District.
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