Archive for February, 2013

Food, friends and fun.  Watch a video from the spaghetti dinner by clicking on the link below.

A huge thank you to the NA community for selling out the spaghetti dinner!  The proceeds will go towards printing/postage costs from the Peebles Fire Hall meeting, printing costs for the neighborhood flyers distributed prior to the public hearing, and yard signs to be ordered next month.

The next school board meeting is Wednesday, February 27th at 7pm in the Carson Middle School auditorium. If you are interested in speaking, please contact Rose Mary Ryan at rryan@northallegheny.org or 412-369-5437.

Spaghetti Dinner 001

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The SaveNASchools Spaghetti Dinner is sold out! We have stopped online sales because we cannot accept more than 300 reservations. We would like to thank the community for its overwhelming response to this event!

If you are interested in ordering yard signs, but were unable to purchase a ticket to the dinner, please email savenaschools@gmail.com. Thank you!

If you’re planning to attend the Spaghetti Dinner on Monday night, we’re requesting that you purchase your tickets in advance by clicking on the link below.

This event will be filled with food, fun, and games for everyone. We look forward to seeing you there!

To order tickets, click here.

Spaghetti Dinner Flyer

At last night’s school board meeting, the board approved the preliminary budget for the 2013-14 school year. The board also approved the resignation of School Board Member Beth Ludwig.

SaveNASchools encourages residents to be respectful when commenting on the website and Facebook page.

Pittsburgh Post Gazette:  North Allegheny explores options to reduce proposed budget deficit

North Allegheny Patch: North Allegheny School Board Approves Preliminary Budget, Tax Hike

Pittsburgh Post Gazette: North Allegheny School Board member Beth Ludwig resigns

North Allegheny Patch:  North Allegheny School Board Member Beth Ludwig Resigns

There is a school board meeting tonight at 7pm at Carson Middle School. The following items are expected to be discussed:

1. The administration is expected to address whether they have accepted the offer from Architectural Innovations to do a more comprehensive demographics and feasibility study after the firm stated in a letter, “We felt then, as we do now, that without evaluating the District as a ‘whole’, the study would not provide the level of information necessary for the Board of School Board Directors to make appropriate decisions regarding School District facilities.”

2. The board is expected to address the 2013-2014 budget. You can read more by linking here to an article in the North Allegheny Patch.

There are two school board meetings this month:

1. February 20th Work Session

2. February 27th Regular Meeting

Both meetings are at 7pm at Carson Middle School.  These meetings are open to the public and provide time for community members to address members of the school board.  If you are interested in speaking, the rules require that you register 24 hours in advance by contacting Rose Mary Ryan at rryan@northallegheny.org or 412-369-5437.

With the plans for McCandless Crossing complete, and construction well underway, planners in McCandless are eyeing another large parcel of land for redevelopment.  Click here to read the article from the North Allegheny Patch.

The community had 15 days following the January 30th public hearing to submit information into the public record (the deadline was midnight on February 14th). In the last two weeks, over 400 letters were sent to the North Allegheny School Board opposing the closure of Peebles Elementary.  All 400+ letters will become part of the final record.

We want to thank each and every member of the community who has taken the time to advocate on behalf of the 3,500+ elementary students in the district as part of this movement.  Our message is being heard by board members.

Please join us for the Save NA Schools Spaghetti Dinner on Monday, February 25th from 6-8pm at the Franklin Park Volunteer Fire Hall.  This event will be an opportunity for the community to come together and enjoy a fun-filled evening of food and games, while discussing the final strategy leading up to the vote.  Catered by Park Cafe and Catering, the meal will include spaghetti with your choice of sauce (meat sauce or marinara), Breadworks bread, tossed salad, and homemade cookies for dessert.  A Chinese auction will be available thanks to the participation of several local businesses. Join the fun, order yard signs, ask questions, and become part of the effort.  Dinner tickets are $5 for kids under 10 and $10 for everyone else.  We request that you purchase dinner tickets in advance.

You can order dinner tickets on-line by clicking here or by clicking on the flyer below. We look forward to seeing you on February 25th!

Spaghetti Dinner Flyer

The California Department of Education has issued a best practices guide that outlines what steps should be taken prior to closing a school. Based on these standards, the district’s administration failed to perform adequate due diligence prior to making the recommendation to close Peebles Elementary.

1. Establish a District Advisory Committee-“it is a legislative intent, but not a mandate, for a district to have and use a District Advisory Committee (DAC) before decisions are made about school closure. But whether an intent or a mandate, the advice is good.”

  • “The job of the superintendent and board members is to evaluate facts, not gather them. And the process of gathering the facts must be as credible, transparent and non-political as possible.”
  • “At the very least, the DAC should be involved in the fact-finding necessary for an informal recommendation about school closure.”
  • “The DAC should be expanded to include a cross-section of community members who have an interest in and may be affected by school closures.”

The school board has not addressed a petition with 1,000+ taxpayer signatures requesting a district-wide community task force, despite numerous requests by community members and taxpayers over a 4-month period. The petition was submitted into the public record on January 30, 2013.

2. Evaluate the condition of each building- “one in good repair may be the best school facility in the district, in spite of its declining enrollment. It may be better to close an at-capacity but physically mediocre school;”

  • Have short term and long term renovation plans been determined and evaluated for each building?
  • What are the expected maintenance costs for each building?

Prior to recommending the closure of Peebles, the administration did not present the school board with a schedule for the projected maintenance costs for Bradford Woods, despite estimated repairs being anywhere from $8-14 million. Instead, at the Nov 28, 2012 school board meeting, Facilities Director Rob Gaertner said he was “deferring” the costs on the dated roof and HVAC system at Bradford Woods for five years. School Board Director Chris Jacobs asked Mr. Gaertner, “is that realistic?”

3. Determine the operating cost of each building- “operating costs may vary from school to school. Some schools use energy more efficiently, some schools need less maintenance, and some schools have minimal transportation costs.”

  • Has the administration determined the per-student operating cost at each building?

The only operating costs the administration presented to the school board prior to making the recommendation to close Peebles Elementary were the operating costs for Peebles Elementary. This occured at the Oct 24, 2012 school board meeting.

4. Investigate the cost of transportation for each building- “part of the decision to close a school should be based upon what transportation costs will be saved, and what new transportation costs will be incurred, once a school is closed and its students redistributed.”

  • Have detailed transportation costs been determined for each building?

At the November 14, 2012 school board meeting, Transportation Director Roger Botti presented ONE redistricting scenario related to closing Bradford Woods that showed 1,000+ students would be moved. Two scenarios were presented for a Peebles/Hosack closure that showed  500-600 students would be moved.  No detailed calculations were provided, no redistricting maps were shown, and a right-to-know request for further data was denied.

5. Determine the value of each building –“if maximizing revenue from the sale or lease of surplus schools is part of the decision regarding which school to close, then a property appraisal and assessment of the interests in and proposed uses for each property are vital.”

  • Have appraisals been conducted for each building?
  • Has the value of a possible sale/lease of each building been determined for each building?

Appraisals have not been conducted for each building nor has the value of a possible sale/lease for each building been presented by the administration to the school board.

Architectural Innovations, the consulting firm that prepared the Phase 1 report, sent a letter to the district offering to complete a more comprehensive demographic and feasibility study free of charge. The firm presented their initial findings to the district in August 2011.

The letter states:

“We felt then, as we do now, that without evaluating the District as a ‘whole’ the study would not provide the level of information necessary for the Board of School Directors to make appropriate decisions regarding School District facilities.”

This is a huge development for the hundreds of residents that have been urging the administration to do more due diligence.

You can read the entire letter by reading below or clicking here.

The question now is:  What will the district do with this offer?  Come to the school board meeting at 7pm on Wednesday, February 20th and encourage the board to take a step back and gather more evidence before moving forward with a measure as drastic as closing a building.

AI letter-page-001.