Archive for September, 2012

To see the video, click the link below.

A school district closes one elementary school– and experiences over-crowding in the remaining elementary schools.

BROOKFIELD –  A “class-size controversy” at one school district – just months after a school was closed.

Hillside Elementary was closed because of budgets and shrinking attendance.

But now parents are frustrated because of over-crowded classrooms  “We have voiced our concern on that and hoping that  they’d add another teacher,” said parent Jackie Smith.

Jackie Smith’s concerned about her daughter’s fifth grade class.

It’s one of four at Swanson Elementary pushed to it’s maximum size.

“I certainly don’t like that there are 30 kids in the class.”

The school added nearly 60 students in the past two and a half months forcing the district to add “sections”.

Tonawanda Elementary is in similar shape.

“So we’re going to look at whether those are permanent students or if it’s a one year kind of anomaly,” said Keith Brightman, assistant superintendent of finance, budget and human resources at Elmbrook’s School District.

The hike in enrollment comes on the heels of Hillside Elementary’s closure this spring.

District leaders consolidated for budget reasons.

Brightman said the closing of Hillside did not directly impact Swanson and Tonawanda’s class sizes.

Parent’s aren’t so sure.

Brookfield Elementary absorbed students from Hillside.  But redistricting sent some Brookfield students to Swanson.

Jackie Smith understood Hillside’s closing.  But she fears the district failed to address the impact it would have on other classrooms.  “We’re adding 50, 60, 100 kids to your school, but we’re not hiring any more teachers,” she said.

The district budgeted for six “place holder” teaching positions for possible changes in enrollment.  It ended up having to add more but did so at the younger class levels which are priority for smaller class sizes.

In fifth grade classes it will add an assistant after exploring the options, said Brightman.

“Usually those are qualified teachers in those positions in our district so that’s a very viable solution given that they’re just above our max thresholds.”

Not all parents find that an acceptable solution.

They’ll get to voice their concerns at a school board meeting next Tuesday night.


North Allegheny parents blast idea of closing Peebles Elementary

September 20, 2012 5:38 am

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By Sandy Trozzo, Post Gazette

Cost-cutting moves made or being considered by North Allegheny School District continue to draw fire from parents.

Parents of students at Peebles Elementary School asked board members to keep the school open during the board’s Sept. 12 work session. Other parents decried higher class sizes in elementary schools.

Read more:

North Allegheny parents lobby to keep Peebles school open

By Bobby Kerlik Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012, 8:55 p.m.

More than 80 North Allegheny elementary school parents showed up at a school board meeting last week to show their opposition to a recommendation to close Peebles Elementary School in McCandless, one of seven grade schools in the district.Several parents spoke to board members Sept. 12 and said closing the school would have a negative impact on property values and drive up class sizes in other schools.
Read more:

You are invited to attend the Superintendent’s Coffee.

Attendance is not limited to NA parents– but is open to the entire community.

• Meet District Administrators.
• Hear an overview of key information for parents.
• Q & A will close the session.

Bradford Woods Elementary School • 41 Forest Road • Bradford Woods, PA 15015 • 724-935-5081

Please attend the September school board meeting. We need your support at Wednesday night’s (tomorrow) school board meeting.

The meeting will be held at the Central Admin Office, located inside of Carson Middle School, at 7pm.  The address is 200 Hillvue Lane.

The representation we have there tomorrow night is critical! Please tell 3 people– and have them tell 3 people. We need to be accurately represented.
Many parents have signed up to speak regarding the recommendation to close Peebles Elementary, elementary class size, and our on-going request for the school board to appoint a committee of local residents including parents, financial professionals, teachers, and local leaders to find more appropriate solutions to district’s challenges.

Your attendance will speak volumes.


The proposal to close Peebles Elementary is about a new model for elementary education across the district that will increase class sizes in EVERY elementary school. It is a district-wide issue and we need to gain district-wide support.

More specifically, closing Peebles is part of a plan to maximize utilization of the elementary buildings by increasing class sizes. Out of the 145 elementary sections, 7 are currently above 30. The board can redistrict to correct this problem and create equity across the schools. Closing Peebles will allow them to increase class sizes in EVERY elementary school to their new “target capacity” after the redistricting.

This is about 30 students becoming the norm for grades 3-5 instead of the exception. The exception (7 out of 145 sections) is fixed by redistricting. Closing one of the seven elementary schools means going to a new model of 30 students in all intermediate grades (3rd-5th) across the district.

We need to argue that larger class sizes make it more difficult for teachers to effectively teach curriculum and gives them less time with each student. This is extremely detrimental at the elementary school level where kids are just being introduced to the educational model and structure. In addition, adding just one or two kids to a classroom can greatly increase the classroom complexity for the teacher given each kid has a different ability to learn, different social/emotional background, and different set of needs.

We need to ADVOCATE REDISTRICTING to create more equity across all elementary schools and better utilization of “excess capacity” in some buildings, but to LEAVE PEEBLES OPEN so that class sizes don’t swell beyond a reasonable level after the redistricting.

Parents of North Allegheny students to voice concerns over a recommendation to close Peebles Elementary

North Allegheny hears case to keep Peebles Elementary open

Dr. Ray Gualtieri, NA Superintendent, and Brian Miller, NA Asst. Superintendent, will be speaking at the Peebles Elementary PTA meeting.

We cannot urge you enough to attend this meeting.

It is important that we demonstrate by our sheer numbers that we stand together as a community and that the Superintendent and the School Board are put on notice that the recommendation to close Peebles Elementary directly affects our children and our neighborhoods. The plan to close Peebles is in no way “a done deal”– and we can make a difference by our presence.

(Parking will be tight that morning. You may want to plan to park at Memorial Park Church, and walk over to the school.)


Here is a list of useful links for North Allegheny parents and all residents.  This list will be expanded as necessary:

North Allegheny School District links:

Facility Information:

Some of you may have heard that during the last school board meeting, the night before the 2012-2013 school year began, a recommendation was made to close Peebles Elementary School.  The immediate reaction was that it was a Peebles’ problem.  But really, it is a Hosack problem- and to a very large extent, a district-wide problem, too.

Arleen Wheat, assistant superintendent for special education and pupil services, said “We’ve done a lot of those transitions, I feel very self-assured that the students can be assimilated into Hosack. It’s a great school.”

But, as a Hosack parent, that really isn’t the issue.

Hosack currently has an enrollment of 335 students and– according to the Phase Two feasibility study cited by North Allegheny school district– a capacity of 550 students.  The Superintendent stated at the Superintendent’s coffee last week that elementary class size **is ** being increased to a target of 30 students per class– and possibly 33 and 34 in some cases.  With the closing of Peebles Elementary, the plan is to load Hosack to “capacity”.  To increase capacity you need more students in each classroom– and to get more classrooms to accommodate the increased number of students you will need to turn the art room,  the music room,  the orchestra room, into classrooms….

But again, this doesn’t just affect Hosack and Peebles students– school size at Ingomar, McKnight, Franklin and Bradford Woods, and Marshall will grow as well.

At no point in the meeting was it addressed how closing an elementary school will save money.  Last year, Ray Gualtieri, NA Superintendent, stated numerous times that closing a school would only save about $220K per year.  The reality is that by increasing capacity at the other schools,  capital improvements will need to be made at those other schools.  Capital improvements = $$….. which, considering that NA is forecasting an $8M budget shortfall this year doesn’t appear to make very much sense.

Some have suggested that without the closure of one of North Allegheny’s elementary schools a tax increase will be necessary to find the necessary funds.  We do not believe that a choice between appropriate class sizes in community schools and increased taxes is necessary or accurate.  These two options should be last resorts and more appropriate cuts and innovative cost saving measures can be found before these extreme measures.

This is where our presence (and voices) are needed.

Both Dr. Gualtieri and Brian Miller, NA Asst. Superintendent,  will be speaking at Peebles Elementary on Monday, September 10 at 9:00am.  I cannot urge you enough to attend this meeting. Please invite your neighbors.  Please share this email with others.  It is important that we demonstrate that we stand together as a community and that the Superintendent and the School Board are put on notice that we are paying attention.  That, as parents of Hosack students, this recommendation to close Peebles Elementary directly effects our children and our neighborhoods.  The plan to close Peebles is in no way “a done deal”– and we can make a difference.  (Parking may be tight that morning.  It was suggested by a Peebles parent to carpool, park at Memorial Park Church, and walk over to the school.)

If you are not able to attend this meeting please plan to attend the School board meeting at the Central Admin Office on

September 12   (Work Session)

September 19 (Regular Meeting)

And, you are invited to attend the President’s Coffee on Thursday, September 20 at 9:15a which will be held at Bradford Woods Elementary school.

If you are on Facebook I urge you to join the parent-led group Save Peebles Elementary

You may also sign an on-line petition that can be found at

I feel so passionately about Hosack– thank you for reading–


Laurel Schreiber, Hosack Parent

Sign the On-line Petition

Posted: September 7, 2012 in Take Action
Tags: ,
NA Residents For Neighborhood Schools

The residents of the North Allegheny School District believe that a strong and high performing school district is critical to the success of our children and grandchildren. It is also an important part of our local quality of life and contributes to the value of our homes. Recent discussions by the North Allegheny School Board including a suggested closure of Peebles Elementary School threatens to undermine these benefits. The inevitable increase in elementary school class size throughout the district, elimination of neighborhood facilities, and unnecessary construction created by this shift will cause unneeded disruption and unnecessary expense for all residents.

While we recognize that North Allegheny School District, like most school districts in Pennsylvania, are under significant financial constraints, we believe that other, less radical reforms within the district can achieve the necessary cost savings. Further, we reject any idea that district residents must choose between school closures / higher class sizes or a property tax increase.

We request that the North Allegheny School Board, school PTAs, and the teacher’s union appoint a committee of local residents including parents, financial professionals, teachers, and local leaders to find more appropriate solutions to district’s challenges. This committee should present its findings by January 31, 2013. Further, we request that the district disregard any construction or consolidation recommendations from firms with a potential financial interest in potential facility rehabilitation or construction.

Save Peebles: NA Residents For Neighborhood Schools