Content about Tom Ralston


The Avonworth school board decided to wait one month before holding a vote on whether to change the district’s grading scale.

Despite original plans to vote Monday, March 9, on whether to change from the seven-point scale currently used to a 10-point system, at the recommendation of superintendent Tom Ralston, the motion was not placed on this week’s school board agenda.



Avonworth school board members and administrators are taking a look at the district’s grading system, and expect to present their findings to the community at the board’s work shop meeting next month.

Issues regarding the system were highlighted at the board’s Feb. 9 meeting when parent William Penrod, of Ben Avon Heights, questioned the rationale behind the grading scale used by the school district. Penrod said that the scale places Avonworth graduates at a marked disadvantage when being considered for college admission and merit scholarships.



Armed with questions and concerns pertaining to the arrest of an elementary school music teacher, more than 40 parents attended Monday night’s regular meeting of the Avonworth School Board.



At Monday night’s meeting of the Avonworth School Board, superintendent Tom Ralston informed the board that last week's frigid temperatures caused water problems inside Avonworth school buildings.

On Wednesday night, a domestic water line leading to a water fountain froze and ruptured, causing two to three inches of water to accumulate on the floor of high school classroom 400. The English classes typically held there have been relocated until the damage is assessed and repaired.


By the time Avonworth middle and high school students return to classes next fall, the school library will have been transformed into what the district is calling a “21st Century Collaboration Center.”

A $170,000 grant from the Grable Foundation will allow the district to reconfigure the library space, taking advantage of adjacent office and classroom space to add new opportunities for education.



For over an hour at Monday night's regular meeting, parents asked questions and voiced concerns to members of the Avonworth School Board, the superintendent, and officers representing the Ohio Township Police Department.

A dozen or so parents attended the Jan. 21 meeting. They were first presented with the superintendent's memo concerning the status of a variety of safety and security issues.


Avonworth superintendent Tom Ralston led an informal discussion concerning security during Monday night's work session of the school board.

Various areas where current district procedures could be strengthened -- including security at all building entrances, reinforced staff identification usage, and the need for a barrier between the parking lot and the playground at the elementary building -- were identified.


At Monday night's meeting of the Avonworth School Board, superintendent Tom Ralston announced that Avonworth High School was ranked eighth in the Pittsburgh regional top 50 schools as indicated by updated average SAT scores recently released by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Avonworth's students' average combined SAT score on the college-prep test in 2012 was 1631 which was up 3 percent from 1583 in 2011.


The Avonworth School District may have on-line textbooks for its students in the near future.

At its regular meeting on Monday, superintendent Tom Ralston reported to the board that the development of on-line textbooks had been discussed at the most recent superindents advisory council meeting. According to Ralston, the idea of online textbooks has already been considered by the secretary of education at the federal level.


The search continues to replace Tom Ralston as middle school principal.

Ralston, who was named superintendent to replace Dr. Valerie McDonald, who is retiring at the end of June, told school board members at Monday's regular meeting that he, along with McDonald, Dr. Shannon Varley and some of the teachers, will be conducting interviews June 18.

He said the process will involve the candidates being given a list of 10 scenarios and they will have a half-hour to prioritize them and propose resolutions.

"The goal is to narrow the field for the full board to interview," he said.


The Pennsylvania Middle School Association has honored Avonworth Middle School principal Tom Ralston with the Administrator's Award, an honor that recognizes his achievements in promoting middle school education and encouraging professional development.

Now in his fifth year as an Avonworth principal, Ralston has earned high marks from his students, as well as from PMSA, with three eighth graders expressing their views.

"Mr. Ralston is the most amazing and understanding principal in the state," said Natalie Malloy.


A number of special visitors helped Avonworth celebrate the receipt of a $15,000 grant that will provide fitness opportunities for middle school students. Pictured above from left, back row, Steeler center Jeff Hartings, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Everette James, Steeler legend Franco Harris and state Secretary of Education Dr. Gerald Zahorchak; front row, Dr. Don Fisher (Highmark), Yvonne Cook, president of the Highmark Foundation, Avonworth superintendent Dr. Valerie McDonald and middle school principal Tom Ralston.

Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen