Archive for March, 2013

We are thrilled that Tara Fisher and Scott Russell will be running as new candidates for a position on the North Allegheny School Board.  See the article below from today’s North Allegheny Patch.

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North Allegheny Patch

Seven Candidates Seek Four Seats on North Allegheny School Board

Three incumbents are running for reelection.

The following information was provided by the Allegheny County Elections Division. 

Primary Election day is Tuesday, May 21. The General Election is Tuesday, Nov 5.

Four candidates are challenging three incumbents for four seats on the North Allegheny School Board. All of the candidates are cross-filed, which means they are running for the nomination of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

Incumbents Ralph J. Pagone, Thomas C. Schwartzmier, and Daniel E. Hubert are running for reelection.

Both incumbents Linda Bishop, whose term expires in December, and Karen Boujoukos, who was recently elected to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Beth Ludwig, are not running.

Also running are Ash Marwah, Tara Fisher, Gary Wenig, and Scott Russell.

 

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FACTS:
ISSUE:

If the administration needs to add 10-14 sections to keep elementary class sizes below the district’s guidelines, and only 14 spare classrooms are available after the district expands McKnight and closes Peebles, the remaining buildings would be left with no spare classrooms if class size is held within the district’s guidelines.

CONCLUSION:

The administration should withdraw its recommendation to close Peebles Elementary based on the following facts:

  • Elementary enrollment has increased over the last several years.
  • The district does not have enough classrooms to keep elementary class sizes below the district’s guidelines if a building is closed.
  • New housing developments are projected to add 850+ homes to the district.

If the board votes to close a building, the district will be wed to higher class sizes both now and in the future.

 

March25image-page-001

14 spares

Click on the link to watch an animated video about the recommendation to close Peebles.

North Allegheny Patch
Superintendent’s Call to Delay Closing of Peebles Elementary Draws Mixed Reaction From Board, Parents

Dr. Raymond Gualtieri is now recommending the school close at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

By Richard Cook, Editor

[To read complete text,  click here]

Board member Thomas Schwartzmier said he was very happy with the delay in the Peebles closing.

“I’m glad that we reconsidered that, it’s something that I would have brought up at the vote had we not talked about it in advance,” he said.  “I think this will give everyone more time to react appropriately as we move forward.”

Board member Christopher Jacobs wondered about the sudden recommendation to add classrooms at McKnight Elementary.

“I felt the administration did their homework and was very confident in their recommendation,” he said. “Why wasn’t that (adding classrooms to McKnight) part of the initial recommendation? Are we less confident now than we were before?”

“I don’t know that we’re less confident but we heard over and over again from parents that parents were not confident with that,” Gualtieri responded. “The administration was confident that the 12 or so spare classrooms was enough, but we heard that over and over again from 330 people as we went through the various elementary schools and we tried to address that concern.”

Alison Fujito, a parent, told the board she couldn’t buy that argument.

“There’s just too much contradiction here for me to have a whole lot of confidence in your current recommendations,” she said. “I’m kinda shocked that these concerns that we’ve raised, 300 of us have raised, you keep calling them parental concerns, why aren’t they your concerns?”

Board member Ralph Pagone reiterated his opposition to closing Peebles at all.

“The last thing any district should do is close a school,” he said. “I still feel there are stones we haven’t unturned yet and I would ask that we continue to do that. “The thing that’s glaringly missing from this power point presentation to me is the $10-14-million dollars in cost that Bradford Woods elementary is going to need. I’d like to see that addressed. The building is going to continue to deteriorate.”

Board President Maureen Grosheider said, she too, wanted to make sure all options were explored when it comes to operating the district efficiently.

“I want to make sure we’ve done our job and our homework to make sure that we are as lean as we can be in as many appropriate places that we can be,” she said. “I would like to see money in the classroom, that’s where I think it belongs.”

The administration has recommended adding 5 classrooms (four regular and one special education classroom) to McKnight Elementary to address the issue of class size. However, the “new recommendation” does not provide enough spare classrooms to keep class sizes below the district’s guidelines.

Here’s why…

  • If Peebles is closed and 5 classrooms (four regular and one special education classroom) are added to McKnight, only 14 spare classrooms would remain across the district. This is taken from the administration’s presentation on March 20th which shows three spare classrooms at both McKnight and Ingomar and two spare classrooms at each of the four remaining buildings.
  • To keep class sizes below district guidelines, the administration said it would need to add 10-14 elementary sections next year.  This assumes a class size cap of 29 students for intermediate grades and 24 students for primary grades.  If third grade is treated as an intermediate grade, the district would need to add 10 elementary sections.  If third grade is treated as a primary grade (like it is at Pine Richland), the district would need to add 14 elementary sections.
  • Thus, the district would have to utilize all 14 of the spare classrooms available under the new recommendation in order to restore class size to 2009 levels (when the district offered 158 classes to 3,500 students).  This means no spare classrooms would remain if a building is closed.

As previously noted, elementary enrollment has increased over the last several years. The district has allowed class size to go above district guidelines, thereby creating “empty classrooms,” by only offering 145 sections to our 3,560 elementary students.

If a building is closed, the district will be wed to higher class sizes both now and in the future. Given there are several new housing developments across the district, which are projected to add hundreds of elementary students to the system, the “new recommendation” has the same class size issues as the original recommendation.

North Allegheny Patch

Karen Boujoukos Elected to North Allegheny School Board

During a public interview Wednesday night with the North Allegheny School Board, board candidate Karen Boujokos promised that, thanks to her 10 years of prior service on the board, she would be able to “hit the ground running.”

To read more, click here.


North Allegheny Superintendent Recommends Delay In Closing Peebles Elementary

To the surprise of several members of the North Allegheny School Board, Superintendent Raymond Gualtieri recommended Wednesday night a one-year delay in the proposed closing of Peebles Elementary School.

To read more, click here.

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  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Karen Boujoukos appointed to North Allegheny school board

Karen Boujoukos on Wednesday was appointed to the North Allegheny school board.  Mrs. Boujoukos, of Franklin Park, served on the board for 10 years, leaving the board in 2011.

To read more, click here.

If North Allegheny closes Peebles, transition would take one year

If the North Allegheny School Board votes in May to close Peebles Elementary School, the move will not take effect until the 2014-15 school year.

To read more, click here.

North Allegheny Patch

Dr. Raymond Gualtieri suggests Peebles be closed at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

By Richard Cook

To the surprise of several members of the North Allegheny School Board, Superintendent Raymond Gualtieri recommended Wednesday night a one-year delay in the proposed closing of Peebles Elementary School.

The extra time would allow the district to add five additional classrooms to McKnight Elementary School. The space, located at the east end of the school, is currently under roof, but not built out. Gualtieri said the extra classrooms would give the district spare space in the event enrollment increases beyond current projections.

Tara Fisher, of the group Save NA Schools , which has been fighting the closing of any elementary school in the district, said the recommendation didn’t make sense to her.

“It is shocking to hear the district is considering taking on new construction at the same time it’s considering closing a top performing, well maintained building in the heart of the district,” she said. “This is another example of the information surrounding the recommendation to close Peebles continuing to change. A decision of this magnitude should not be based on ever-changing data, floor plans and an 11th hour amendment that involves new construction.”

To read more:

http://northallegheny.patch.com/articles/north-allegheny-superintendent-recommends-delay-closing-peebles-elementary