Archive for March, 2013

On Nov. 14, 2012, the administration presented a redistricting scenario that would “balance enrollment” by keeping all seven elementary schools open. Under this scenario, the average enrollment per building would be:

–780 students = McKnight and Marshall
–400 students = BWE, FES, HES, IES, and PES

On Nov. 28, 2012, the administration presented a redistricting scenario that showed enrollment totals in the six remaining elementary schools if Peebles were to close.  Under this scenario, the average enrollment per building would be:

–850 students = McKnight and Marshall
–460 students = BWE, FES, HES, IES, and PES

SaveNASchools believes the district should “balance enrollment” by keeping all seven elementary schools open. This would allow the district to shift students from buildings that are over-capacity (i.e. Franklin) to buildings that are under-capacity (i.e. Hosack). Keeping all seven buildings open will provide the district with the space necessary to:

  1. keep class size within the district’s guidelines
  2. adequately administer elementary programs (music, ESAP, GOAL)
  3. reasonably accommodate future growth

The chart below shows the impact on each elementary building based on the redistricting scenarios presented at the Nov. 14 and Nov. 28 school board meetings. The district has not provided maps or other information related to these scenarios.

Post for March 15-3(5)-page-001

Advertisement

A realtor with Howard Hanna recently submitted information to the school board that outlines 850+ proposed new homes located in the North Allegheny School District.  The details of these new housing developments are summarized below:

  1. Ridge Forest by Ryan, located off Nicholson Road
    –112 townhomes, 88 single family homes
    –community is actively selling with 21 presold homes
  2. Venango Trails, located in northern Marshall Township
    –120 townhomes, 350 single family homes
    –community is actively selling with 35 presold homes
  3. Village at Marshall Ridge by Ryan, located off Warrendale Bayne Road/I-79
    –104 townhomes
    –community is actively selling with 5 presold homes
  4. Waterford Place by Heartland, located off Ringeisen Road
    –14 single family homes
    –community is actively selling
  5. Chapel Hill Estates, located off Wexford Run Road
    –20 single family homes
    –community is actively selling
  6. Park Ridge Manor by Madia Homes, Summer Drive-Allison Park
    –20 single family homes
    –community is actively selling with 6 presold homes
  7. 33 acres of property sold behind Franklin Elementary
    –developer unknown
    –30 single family home sites have been proposed

As noted in last week’s post, elementary enrollment has increased since the start of the school year. Peebles and McKnight, which are not situated next to new housing developments, have seen the largest increases. Thus, the new developments listed above would be in addition to the growth the district is currently experiencing.

Based on the February demographics meetings at each elementary school, the administration said it only expects to have 10 spare classrooms if students from Peebles are redistricted into the 6 remaining schools. This means some schools would only have 1 spare room available to manage class size.

If Peebles is closed, the district would continue to experience 30+ students per classroom or displacement of programs integral to the elementary curriculum, such as music, ESAP, and GOAL.

In the fall of 2011, when Bradford Woods was being considered for closure, School Board Member Linda Bishop stated, “I think the new housing plays a greater role, almost, in predicting what’s going on and what’s going to happen than the live birth data.”

Click on the link to watch the video.

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Elementary Enrollment Trends

2011: Board members express concern about enrollment projections

School Board President’s Comments on Growth and Closing a Building

Community group questions North Allegheny enrollment projections

In the fall of 2011, when Bradford Woods was being considered for closure, School Board Vice President Dan Hubert challenged the administration’s declining enrollment projections and noted that elementary enrollment has “increased.”

Mr. Hubert said, “I don’t think we’re going to see the decrease in enrollment that is being projected.”

Click on the link to watch the video.

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Related posts:

Elementary Enrollment Trends

2011: Board members express concern about enrollment projections

School Board President’s Comments on Growth and Closing a Building

Community group questions North Allegheny enrollment projections

In the fall of 2011, when Bradford Woods was being considered for closure, School Board President Maureen Grosheider challenged the administration’s declining enrollment projections and noted that elementary enrollment has been “rising.”

Click on the link to watch the video.

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Related posts:

Elementary Enrollment Trends

2011: Board members express concern about enrollment projections

School Board President’s Comments on Growth and Closing a Building

Community group questions North Allegheny enrollment projections

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.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-north/north-school-news-678310/#ixzz2MrO6wMYa

Based on the district’s records, elementary enrollment has increased by 31 students since the start of the school year.

Peebles and McKnight Elementary have seen the largest number of new students. Since the start of the year, Peebles Elementary has increased by 9 students and McKnight Elementary has increased by 14 students.

At Peebles, 4 of the 9 new students are in first grade, which illustrates the importance of operating classrooms below class size guidelines at the start of the school year.

Peebles started the year with 3 first grade classes of 23, 23, and 24 students, but those sections are now operating at 25, 25, and 24 students.

The chart below illustrates changes in elementary enrollment at each building for the current year. All information was obtained from the district under the right-to-know law.

Enrollment_Changes_3_

At the school board meeting on Wednesday night, the administration said the offer from Architectural Innovations to do a more comprehensive demographics and feasibility analysis has been respectfully declined.

The offer letter from Architectural Innovations can be viewed here.

The administration’s explanation for declining the offer has been posted to the district’s website and is shown below.

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“Update: February 28, 2013

 We understand a letter was submitted by Architectural Innovations to the North Allegheny School District in January 2013 in which they offered the School District free “services to complete the Feasibility Study and Demographic Analysis, which would encompass the entire School District…substantiate all estimated costs…could include another demographic analysis….” What is the North Allegheny School District’s intention relative to this offer of free services?

The North Allegheny School District administration will not be engaging in any further work contracts for services related to the current Demographics and Feasibility Study at this time. This Study was originally initiated for three reasons: (1) to analyze the need for renovations and upgrades at Bradford Woods Elementary (BWE), Marshall Elementary (MES) and Marshall Middle (MMS) Schools; (2) to review building capacities; and (3) to provide a demographic study with a ten-year projection of student enrollment. Both the Architectural Innovations report presented in August 2011 (Phase I) and the Thomas & Williamson report (Phase II) presented in August 2012 provided detailed information relative to all three of these criteria. District administration also conducted its own detailed demographic study as a part of the research phase of this project.

While the January letter received from Architectural Innovations inferred otherwise, District administrators recently verified with the firm that their original study did, in fact, provide a capacity analysis of all twelve schools – not just BWE, MES, and MMS. The District sees no need for the additional study, since all the relevant work offered in the January 2013 proposal was completed by this firm and reported on in August 2011.

All the components of the Demographic and Feasibility Study – the Architectural Innovations report, the Thomas & Williamson report, the NASD research and data collection, and community input – are currently being used as a reference by the School Board as they decide whether or not to close Peebles Elementary School (PES). Information relative to secondary schools is not integral to that current concern. The existing information is adequate to support planning that may occur for re-districting at both the elementary and middle school levels.

With regard to the similarities and differences between the Architectural Innovations report (Phase I) and the Thomas & Williamson report (Phase II), both consultants agreed that BWE, MES, and MMS require renovations and upgrades. However, the two reports offer plans that recommend different timelines and different budgetary objectives. Those timelines and budgetary objectives influenced the recommendations of each consultant.

Based upon their findings, the Architectural Innovations report presented more than a dozen recommendations, in response to their identification of over-capacity at the elementary level. The top three recommendations included (1) doing nothing but extensive renovations at BWE, MES and MMS; or (2) closing BWE and doing renovations/upgrades; or (3) closing BWE and PES and doing renovations/upgrades.

Thomas & Williamson presented three options for consideration by the District, based upon their identification of over-capacity at the elementary level. Their recommended option was that of closing PES.

The demographic studies from both reports come to the same conclusions relative to elementary student enrollment over the next ten years. Stable to slightly declining enrollment was projected by both. This information also coincides with the yearly study done by the District administration and the annual work that occurs in support of District enrollment and staffing projections.

As such, Architectural Innovations has been informed that the District is satisfied at this point in time with the sum total of the research and data that has been gathered in support of this project. The scope of their report was complete as submitted. While they offered to retain another demographer at no charge, the conclusions of the original demographer who conducted the study for Architectural Innovations have been verified over the course of the last year and half by two other sources.

It is worth noting that, after Architectural Innovations presented their August 2011 report, the Board requested the Phase II study. The administration issued an RFP detailing the additional work required. Architectural Innovations responded to the Phase II RFP. The quote they submitted was two times higher than the cost of their Phase I study. The District could not justify paying that amount of money for the scope of work in the Phase II study. In negotiations, the District reduced the scope of the RFP and asked Architectural Innovations for another bid. Their quote was still more than 30% higher than the cost of the Phase I work. Ultimately, Thomas & Williamson was selected to do the full scope of work originally requested in the Phase II study.

The work on the Demographic and Feasibility Study has continued for 18 months following the delivery of the Architectural Innovations Phase I report. This project has had on-going exposure in the public forum. The North Allegheny School District has not heard from Architectural Innovations since their bid on the Phase II RFP until the receipt of the letter dated January 2013. After thoughtful consideration, their offer to do additional work has been respectfully declined.”

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Related Posts:  New Development: Consulting Firm Urges District To Seek More Data