NA Residents for Neighborhood Schools

Posted: September 7, 2012 in Letters, Take Action
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Welcome to SaveNAschools.  

This blog was started to be a resource for the community of North Allegheny School District –a community made up of parents, neighbors…taxpayers.

As many of you are aware, North Allegheny School District is now seriously considering a new course of action aimed at lowering costs.  This new plan would be executed prior to presenting a referendum to tax payers that voluntarily raise taxes to support North Allegheny School District. While being fiscally responsible is an admirable, and certainly the correct thing to do, the  recommendation to close Peebles Elementary School comes at a time when the average elementary class size in the district is increasing past Pennsylvania Department of Education Guidelines.

We hope to provide concerned residents with information regarding the recent recommendation to the school board, offer opportunities to become involved in the effort to save our NA neighborhood schools, and keep residents aware of the latest announcements from the school board as their plan moves forward.

The Story:

On August 22, 2012, Jon Thomas  of  Thomas & Williamson ( a construction program management company) recommended to the North Allegheny school board to close Peebles Elementary School.  Citing excess capacity across the district, increasing costs, decreasing state funding and a projected budget shortfall for the 2012-2013 school year,  the proposal was made to close Peebles at the end of this school year.

At the school board meeting, there was no discussion about how closing a well attended, structurally sound school would save the district significant funds- especially since any savings would likely be off set by the cost of renovations to increase capacity at the other district schools.  In fact, Mr. Thomas acknowledged that it was difficult to  recommend closing Peebles since it was last renovated in 1999.

Concerned parents of Peebles Elementary students, in cooperation with parents from Hosack Elementary school, want to hold the school board accountable.

Faced with elementary school class sizes that are already above the Pennsylvania Department of Education guidelines in many elementary classrooms across the district:

  • We want the school board to directly address how closing a neighborhood school will help the district save substantial funds- when, Mr. Ray Gualtieri, NA Superintendent, by his own account, admitted that closing an elementary school would only save $220K a year.
  • We want to understand why other cost savings opportunities have not been explored.
  • We want the school board to demonstrate how they plan to effectively fill our schools past the point of realistic capacity.
  • We want to know how the school board plans to promote continued equity across the district.
  • We want an explanation as to how we can expect our property values to remain strong if we are no longer competitive with neighboring school districts that offer reasonable class sizes and neighborhood schools.
  • We want to know why the school board hired a firm with a potential financial interest in facility rehabilitation and construction to make recommendati0ns regarding construction and consolidation of schools across the district.
  • We want to understand why- after numerous statements from Mr. Gualtieri throughout the Fall of 2011 and Spring of 2012, that North Allegheny would not move to close any elementary schools prior to a referendum, why this recommendation was announced without notice on August 22, 2012.

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