Connellsville Area School District (CASD) is a rural public school district in Fayette County, with a K-12 student population of approximately 4,400 and a resident population of approximately 34,000. CASD operates four elementary schools (Grades K-5), with an enrollment of 1,940; a Middle School (Grades 6-8), with an enrollment of 1,012; a High School (Grades 9-12), with an enrollment of 1,088; a Comprehensive Career and Technical Center (Grades 10-12), with an enrollment of 248; and a Cyber Academy (Grades K-12), with an enrollment of 101. The student body is 94% White, 1% Black, 4% Multi-Racial, and less than 1% Hispanic. Eighty-seven percent of students are economically disadvantaged, and 22% have been identified as having a special education disability. CASD covers 216 square miles and includes the City of Connellsville, the Boroughs of Dawson, Dunbar, Ohiopyle, Seven Springs, South Connellsville and Vanderbilt, plus Bullskin Township, Connellsville Township, Dunbar Township, Saltlick Township, Springfield Township and Stewart Township.
In the 2015-16 school year, CASD began a STEM re-visioning process that saw significant resources being devoted to building out the district’s STEM infrastructure, including mobile fabrication labs, Smalllabs, and maker spaces in most buildings. As a natural extension of that build-out, the district established a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Planning Team to develop strategies for establishing aggressive, real-world, K-12 applied learning experiences in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science through generous funding provided by corporate and foundation partners. PLTW programming is now in place in all elementary schools, the district’s Middle School, and the district’s High School, with plans for expansion at all levels. The district’s commitment to a STEM build-out reached a milestone in the 2017-18 school year with the hiring of a STEM/PLTW Coordinator to ensure that planning for further innovation results in coherent, complementary, cross-curricular practices.