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One for the History Books: Reflecting on the 2019-2020 school year

Today, Wednesday, July 1, marks the first official day of the 2020-2021 school year. Whew! But, before we start a new chapter, I wanted to offer a few reflections on what was a challenging 2019-2020 school year. 

Last school year started on a high note. We did things differently. We welcomed our faculty and staff back with team building exercises, instead of endless hours of administrative updates. The students' first week of school was filled with enthusiasm: Balloon arches. The Golden Eagle. Rock-paper-scissors tournaments. Yard Signs. A styrofoam noodle walkway. Kids were excited about coming to school! 

The school year progressed. We even made it through the winter months with only one winter weather cancelation.  

Then came March - in like a lion, and we're not talking about a late season blizzard. Cases of COVID-19 were rapidly increasing in the United States. Schools everywhere, including Keystone Oaks, began planning how to best protect the health and safety of students, staff, and the community. 

But on March 13, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf made the announcement that the best way to protect everyone, and to slow the spread of the virus, was to close all school buildings for two weeks. An early spring break. If only that were the case. 

To say that the weeks that followed were filled with uncertainty would be an understatement. No student, parent, teacher, or educational leader was prepared to close school buildings, halt activities, and end in-person instruction on March 13. There is not a single undergraduate, masters, or doctorate-level course that covers how educators should handle a pandemic. Trust me. 

Did everything go perfectly? No. Did we make mistakes? Yes. Everyone did. We were all learning and making adjustments together. Will we be better prepared should we face a similar scenario again? Absolutely. 

As I look back on the last quarter of the school year, what I can say with certainty is that I am #KOProud of the way our community came together to support one another and, most importantly, our students.

2019-20 VideoWe launched virtual learning opportunities in two weeks. Teachers and support staff connected with students via live meetings and engaging lessons. Our counseling staff continued to provide support services to students. We distributed more than 400 Chromebook devices. Our Food Service Department served more than 34,000 free meals. We launched a Community Support Program that has raised more than $7,000 and collected non-perishable food items to help provide meals to families. We coordinated drive-through parades, delivered yard signs, and held virtual events to celebrate our students. And, since the last day of instruction in May, the professional staff has completed more than 3,000 hours of professional development to enhance their ability to deliver our curriculum in an online environment. 

So, while we may be looking forward to closing the books on the 2019-2020 school year, all of the efforts we made to overcome a challenging situation should not be forgotten. We have a lot of work to do to prepare for any and all of the circumstances that we could face in the coming year. No matter what those are, one thing will always remain true - Keystone Oaks educators care about our students, we care about our families, and we care about our community. And nothing, not even a worldwide pandemic, will keep us from caring. 

I am proud to be your Superintendent - and I am looking forward to the next chapter in our story. 

William P. Stropkaj, Ed.D.
Keystone Oaks School District

Athletic Health & Safety Plan Approved: Practices to resume in July
Football TeamThe Keystone Oaks Board of School Directors approved the Athletic Health & Safety Plan at a Special Voting Meeting on June 30, 2020. The Athletic Health & Safety Plan outlines the steps that the District will take to decrease the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for our staff, students, and spectators.

Please click here to view the Athletic Health & Safety Plan.
Keystone Oaks' free breakfast and lunch programs continue through the summer
Keystone Oaks’ Food Service Department will continue to offer its free breakfast and lunch program to children 18 years of age and younger throughout the summer.

Free MealsA bagged breakfast, bagged lunch and milk will be offered free to any child 18 years of age or younger. When students or families stop to grab lunch, they will also receive breakfast for the next day.

If you drive to the site, your meals can be handed to you while you are in your vehicle. If you walk to the site, we do ask that you do not congregate at the site and that children simply “grab and go.” We also ask that you continue to wear a mask when picking up your meals.

Meals will be available at the following sites and times:

Myrtle Ave Elementary School
3724 Myrtle Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15234
11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Saint John ELCA
601 Washington Ave, Carnegie
12 noon – 1pm

Alvern Gardens
1000 Vermont Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15234
11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Green Tree Wilson Park (in front of Fire Station)
825 Poplar Street. Pittsburgh, PA 15220.
11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Dormont Elementary School
3200 Annapolis Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15216
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Keystone Oaks High School, Entrance C31 (rear or the building)
1000 Kelton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15216
11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Board of School Directors approves 2020-2021 Final General Fund Budget
 Keystone Oaks School District’s Board of School Directors approved the District’s 2020-2021 Final General Fund Budget during their Business/Legislative Meeting on June 16, 2020.

The Final Budget, with expenditures totaling $43,180,309, does not include a tax increase, maintains current programs, and allows Keystone Oaks to implement a 1:1 Chromebook initiative at Keystone Oaks High School for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Revenues are estimated at $42,350,577, creating a deficit of nearly $830,000 that is expected due to decreased local revenues caused by the impact of COVID-19 on the local economy. The 2020-2021 Final Budget will be balanced by using funds in the District’s fund balance.

“Over the past month, District administrators and the Board of School Directors worked diligently to cut more than $1 million in expenses from the 2020-2021 budget,” said William P. Stropkaj, Ed.D., Superintendent of the Keystone Oaks School District. “While cutting any expenses is not ideal, we are proud to say that we were able to present the Board of School Directors with a budget that does not cut any educational programs and minimizes the economic impacts of COVID-19.”

The Final Budget is available on the District’s website -

A total of 5,440 Castle Shannon, Dormont & Green Tree approved Homestead property owners, who have filed Act 1 exception forms, will see a lower tax bill due to state gambling revenues. The $156.13 real estate tax reduction results in a larger decrease for qualified homeowners.

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