Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $100,000 in funding to expand computer science in Erie schools

ERIE, Jan. 17 – Erie students will see more computer science in the curriculum, thanks to three state grants totaling $105,000, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today.

The PAsmart targeted grants from the state Department of Education will provide $35,000 apiece to the Millcreek Township, Fort LeBoeuf and Iroquois school districts.

“With the advent of the digital age, computers are an essential part of every industry – not just the tech sector,” Bizzarro said. “Software applications are used in nearly every modern industry, from health care and transportation to education and finance, so making sure our students develop tech skills is essential to keeping our industries competitive and our economy thriving.”

Harkins agreed, noting, “As our reliance on technology continues to increase, the need for a tech-savvy workforce becomes more and more important to our economy. For this reason, a solid foundation in computer science skills is essential for our next generation of workers.”

Merski added that adding computer science to the curriculum provides kids with the important problem-solving skills they need to succeed.

“Computer science teaches students of all ages how to think logically and gives them the confidence of knowing that they can rely on their own skills to solve problems, which is an incredibly valuable lesson as they go through life.”

The grants – a component of Gov. Wolf’s PAsmart Initiative – are part of a $5.7 million package providing $35,000 a piece to 163 school districts, charter schools and intermediate units statewide.

The grants are designed to help schools introduce and expand computer science programming and to provide teacher training in computer science. The awardees have prioritized expanding access to computer science for underrepresented students, including students of color, girls, low-income students and those in rural communities.