When young families shop for a place to buy a home, one of the first things they look for is the quality of its school district. Cranberry is fortunate to be in the Seneca Valley School District – a district which is continuing to rise among the ranks of the best in Pennsylvania. As a result, Cranberry Township is nationally recognized as a great place to raise a family. And the Township’s Board and staff are committed to doing whatever they can to maintain the District’s upward momentum.
But it’s indirect. For reasons which are somewhat obscure, Pennsylvania has historically fragmented its public services, erecting barriers between the local governments and their school districts. Each goes about its own business, pretty much without regard to what the other is doing. This is despite the fact that neither can succeed without the other. It’s a situation which can easily lead to foolish and wasteful behavior, harming the interests of the constituents that both of them share.
Even though we realize that Cranberry Township and Seneca Valley are separately governed, separately financed, and have different geographic footprints, we also realize that three-quarters of the district’s students are Cranberry residents. So to help sustain the District’s continuing quest for excellence, we have formed a collaborative relationship between the two entities. And we think both of us benefit from that arrangement.
A few examples:
- We collaborate in our maintenance functions, sharing expertise, personnel and equipment as needed.
- We cooperate on environmental education with the District’s three schools in the Township. For instance, we supply equipment and financial support for the schools’ recycling efforts, help students take field trips to see how industry manages recycling, and jointly sponsor a Rain Barrel program for our residents.
- Technicians from the Township’s wastewater treatment plant partner with secondary school teachers in exploring real world applications of biology, and donate gently used laboratory equipment to promote science in the schools.
- Cranberry’s engineering professionals help to support the District’s exceptional STEM program efforts.
- Our communication staff collaborates with the School District’s Communication Office to make sure residents learn about the activities of both organizations.
- The Township has spearheaded efforts to obtain federal funds to improve District building security, along with new software to assure safe access to those buildings.
- Our Public Safety Professionals collaborate with School District Administrators to pre-plan responses to any incidents on District property.
- We support the efforts of high school seniors who are required to complete senior projects. During the 2012-13 school year alone, the Township supported 66 seniors who needed to use Township facilities or equipment. In addition, Township staff served as mentors on other Senior Projects.
- We are in constant contact with the District’s Transportation Office to assure safe and efficient school bus service for our residents, especially when it comes to construction and traffic signal projects that could affect school bus routes.
- Our Parks and Recreation Department coordinates with the School District’s Athletic offices on the use of Township and School District owned athletic facilities.
This is just a sample of what’s going on between our local government and our School District. In the future, we look forward to taking this effort to even higher levels. So while we accept that the Township and the District are, in fact, separate entities, we also realize that for both of us, it’s all about providing taxpayers with the best possible service at the most reasonable cost.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this collaboration. Write me at: email@example.com