The District’s New Strategy: Divide and Conquer

Posted: January 26, 2013 in Community Information, The Impact
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Next week, the administration will be proposing cuts to elementary school programs in an attempt to “divide and conquer” the movement against closing an elementary school building. The district will outline options that suggest elementary parents must choose between smaller class sizes and programs integral to the elementary curriculum.

SaveNASchools has suggested outsourcing transportation, staggering bus schedules, and advertising on the district’s website to address the current budget gap. These ideas are being considered and adopted by other school districts. Quaker Valley and Penn Hills have chosen to outsource transportation, while North Hills is considering staggering bus schedules and establishing a community task force.

On October 24, 2012, SaveNASchools presented a petition to the school board with 1,000+ signatures requesting that the district form a community task force to help brainstorm a variety of options for closing the budget gap without compromising the district’s reputation for excellence in education. It suggested the task force be comprised of representatives from each of the district’s 12 schools, along with teachers, administrators, and other residents.

SaveNASchools has always advocated that the district not compromise its successful elementary education model. The group has noted that, if a building is closed, “the use of spare classrooms as regular classrooms would displace programs critical to the elementary curriculum, such as music, GOAL and ESAP.”  These programs are integral to the elementary curriculum and should NOT be cut.

The district’s position that parents must choose between closing a school or cutting elementary programs only illustrates that the administration continues to lack a long-term, strategic plan with respect to the budget gap. It’s this lack of foresight that has contributed to the district falling behind in security measures, technology, and establishing an appropriate reserve to pay state mandated pension costs.

SaveNASchools believes that a district-wide community task force, which would explore all options for cutting costs and raising revenues in these challenging economic times, will allow taxpayers to be part of key decisions. A community group can provide the district with more ideas and channel the community support the district needs regarding certain proposals.

SaveNASchools encourages the board and administration to invite residents to the table instead of pitting them against one another and dismantling the very things that have made this district great. This is a time for the community to unite and advocate as one for the future of the North Allegheny School District.

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Comments
  1. Mr. Pi says:

    I am guessing that the Board did not approve of the task force. It amazes me how school boards ignore what is in the best interest of the community. The school board should allow the formation of this task force and should be apart of it. By not forming this task force, the school shows that they do not care about the opinion of the people that elected them or the education of the children in the district.

  2. Kevin Mahler says:

    It seems as though the Administration is so anxious to be right about declining enrollment that they are actively working to make it happen.

  3. Brian Bell says:

    I believe according to communication theory this is called a “false alternative.” The board is going to tell residents that it’s either close a school or cut programs. Meanwhile closing the school arguably nets approximately $1 million in savings and neither of these approaches, as mentioned above, is part of a comprehensive plan to address the current $5 million shortfall or anticipated future shortfalls.

  4. Jamie Karlovits says:

    The more I read and attend board meetings, the more clear it becomes that they don’t want to put any effort forth to “fix” our budget problem. Instead, they are trying to use their “power” to intimidate the parents and taxpayers of this district for an easy way out. All they want to do is get parents upset by taking away a school, the elementary music programs, GOAL, ESAP, etc so they then can come back to those same parents and tell them “look what happened, now you need to go out to your neighbors and convince them to pass a referendum for higher taxes.” This is their plan, just ask our wonderful Superintendent…he told us this at his Superintendent Coffee in October. Oh but wait, we will cut all these elementary programs and close a school but we can spend money on a state of the art indoor batting cages at NAI…where are their priorities?

    What they need to do is form a community task force that includes representatives from all the schools, the taxpayers, teachers and administration so long lasting solutions can be made that will be in the best interest of the entire school district. I understand “tough” decisions need to be made due to the budget situation. So let’s make sure we are making the “right” decision instead of rushing to a decision that will not be in the best interest of the district. Let’s try to be creative on cost savings instead of looking for an easy way out. Other school districts in the area are doing this. What are they so afraid of…?

  5. Kerri Buschmeyer says:

    I don’t know why they never seem to answer our repeated request for a community task force. It makes perfect sense to allow members of the community to provide solutions, and if they will not allow it then why can’t they give us an explanation?

  6. Lynn Tonti says:

    Before the school Board takes any votes, they should convene the above referenced community task force. Rushing to close Peebles because there is an interested tenant may NOT be the best decision for our district. This fiscal hole has been long in the making and we should not allow a sense of “urgency now” force rushed decisions.

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