Why Save NA Schools is opposed to the closure of ANY elementary building…

Posted: December 9, 2012 in The Impact
SaveNASchools is a group that advocates keeping all 7 of the district’s elementary schools open based on the following 5 points…

  1. We believe that the district’s elementary buildings should not operate above Pennsylvania Department of Education capacity guidelines.  The district does not have the ability to close an elementary school unless it accepts higher capacities than those established by the state.
  2. We believe that operating the remaining elementary buildings at capacities that depend on spare classrooms and increase class size will compromise the district’s ability to deliver excellence in education.  The new model will be dependent on spare classrooms the very first day, which have been identified as faculty lounges, learning support rooms and music rooms.  The remaining buildings will experience an increase in class size with respect to grades 3-5, except for Hosack (which already has classes of 30+ students) and Franklin (which is currently operating above capacity).
  3. We believe that 3rd grade should have a class size guideline of 25 students instead of 30 (similar to other districts).  The new model is based on 30 students for each 3rd grade class and operating six schools instead of seven does not provide the district with enough capacity to accept 25 students per class now or in the future.
  4. We believe that the decision to close a school could ultimately cost the district more money than it would save because the new model cannot reasonably accommodate future growth.  The 5-year enrollment projections prepared by the Administration have consistently understated actual enrollment for the past 13 years.
  5. We believe that the decision to close a school should be based upon solid, empirical evidence that such decision is in the best interest of the district as a whole.  The report that recommended closing Peebles Elementary used population data that does not tie to the 2010 U.S. Census and included a mathematical error that concludes there will be a decline in McCandless, when, in fact, the population is projected to remain stable.

On November 28th, the Administration recommended closing Peebles Elementary and estimated that the district would save $850,000 per year (contingent on a $1million/year lease).  That same night, it requested $856,000 to purchase new buses for next year. 

SaveNASchools recommends deferring the purchase of new buses for one year and appointing a community task force to provide additional thoughts and ideas for addressing the district’s projected deficits before moving forward with a process as drastic and irreversible as closing a school. 

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Comments
  1. Munson, Michael S says:

    Very nicely done!

    On the subject of buses, another point to raise is the Administration comment about reviewing outsourcing when the current contract expires – if that is truly the intent, I would think that deferring bus purchases another year would be acceptable. When funds are tight, sometimes families do the same thing – buy a new car next year, etc.

    On the subject of growth, it might be useful to check out the plans for the development near McCandless Crossing (townhomes, I think) and the new (small) plan near Duncan for projections of new homes in the McCandless area – further pressure on smaller number of schools in this area. Also, it may be useful to take the data on homes in McCandless (county records on last sale) and merge with enrollment at the schools serving them – this may help provide more data about projected turnover in McCandless – generally, homes that are sold by Seniors are sold to families of school children – this may help further challenge the projections.

    It may also be useful to challenge the administration on the remaining 9MM+ shortfall (or that may backfire?) – too much discussed a single school closure and little on the bigger budget issue. Raising taxes may be inevitable and should be discussed.

    Finally, this will be unpopular with the NA Tigers in the PIAA Championships this weekend – but it might be good for NA Taxpayers to better understand how the proceeds from the various NA programs (Athletics, Musical, Facility Rental, etc) are used – are the helping to fund the NA programs or build bigger facilities. Could these proceeds be used to help fund the improvements needed to say the Baierl center or Newman center? Since the $$ is connected (if we didn’t have a 10MM shortage, there wouldn’t be talk of closing schools) a deeper dive may shed needed sunlight on the subject.

    Just some thoughts – your piece below was awesome!

    Michael

    • Ash Marwah says:

      Excellent Report and the comments above. No School should be closed. Instead spending should be curtailed elsewhere to make up the $10 Million, e.g. Salaries and Benefits which have gone from $64 Million in 2001 to $95 Million in 2012.

  2. Angela Bloomquist, Ed.D. says:

    Excellent points.

  3. Angela Bloomquist, Ed.D. says:

    In my opinion, how the district calculates and intends to use the capacity argument needs to be clarified. For instance, in the 2012 November/December NA Tiger News, they indicate that Hosack Elementary School’s 2012 capacity is 540 but the actual enrollment is only 332. Yet, THIS is the elementary school that is struggling with class sizes over 30 right now! If you only looked at capacity and enrollment, you would think that Hosack classrooms would hold 18-20 students. Where is the missing piece? The capacity calculation obviously does not reflect the realistic day to day use of the building space per student. Perhaps the whole truth needs to be shared before such data is used to support a school closure.

  4. […] NO TO SETTING THE DATE FOR THE PUBLIC HEARING.  You can also use one (or more) of the following points as a basis for your conversation or voice […]

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