Residents from Across the District Continue to Advocate for Peebles

Posted: March 7, 2013 in Press Coverage
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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

March 7, 2013

The board accepted the retirements Feb. 27 of 31 employees — 28 of them teachers — with a combined 835 years of service. Some of the teachers have more than 40 years of experience.

The district is in the middle of a three-year early retirement incentive to reduce personnel costs. Staffing decreased by nearly 48 full-time equivalent employees as of January. Most of the newest retirees will be replaced, administrators said.

The school board held a public hearing Jan. 30 on the proposal to close Peebles Elementary School, and can vote on the proposal after April 30. Elementary parents, in the meantime, continue to lobby the board to keep all seven elementary schools open.

“I implore you to rethink this entire process,” said Inez Duchi, noting that the gap between revenues and expenditures in the proposed 2013-14 budget is less than $1 million. “Closing Peebles is a drop of water in a real ocean.”

Mrs. Duchi said that any redistricting proposals, which are scheduled to be revealed March 20, will not leave parents with enough time to adjust.

“Our children and parents need planning time. Children with special needs need time for transition,” she said. “Children are resilient but special needs children, especially, need more time for transition.”

Allison Minton, parent of a second-grader at McKnight Elementary School, said that closing a well-loved, high-performing school “should always be a last resort. “There are many, many precious little lives in your hands as you make these decisions. Our children are not data points on a chart. Please make these decisions with your eyes wide open.”

Laurie Nelson, a mortgage broker in a real estate office, said she does not see enrollment declining in the future, citing seven new housing plans that are planned, mostly in Franklin Park and Marshall. In one plan, there will be nine elementary-age children moving into the six homes that have been pre-sold, she said.

Existing homes are also turning over to young families, she said. “There is a huge demand for homes right now. Sales were up 33 percent here in 2012.”

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