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 https://www.facebook.com/groups/save.peebles/

You may also sign an on-line petition that can be found at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-peebles/

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

Sincerely,

Laurel Schreiber, Hosack Parent

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