Archive for May, 2013

SaveNASchools believes North Allegheny is a thriving district, not a district in decline. We believe that if we continue to (1) hire top-quality teachers, (2) offer top-ranking programs, (3) provide a top-notch education, (4) implement new ideas, and (5) make sound decisions, the district will continue to flourish.

1. Teachers and class size play an important role in the learning process. We do not support the district’s decision to hire fewer teachers and operate 13 elementary sections above the district’s class size guidelines.

2. Programs such as music, GOAL, and ESAP are integral to the elementary curriculum. We do not support cuts to these programs because they are essential in developing the breadth and depth of the whole student.

3. The closure of any building will require the remaining buildings to operate with higher enrollments and fewer spare classrooms than we’ve ever operated at in the past.  We do not support an education model that will limit the district’s ability to manage class size and displace programs integral to the elementary curriculum.

4. The district needs a long-term plan that is focused on moving the district forward and generating new revenue.  We do not support the district’s position that we have to cut teachers, cut programs, and close a building because of economic challenges.  The challenges we have relate to the district failing to establish a reserve for PSER contributions and choosing to raise taxes instead of forging ahead with new revenue initiatives (e.g. creating a STEM education program that is open to non-district residents).

5. The district should adhere to a best practices model when making significant decisions. We do not support the district’s decision to (i) ignore a petition with 1,000+ taxpayer signatures requesting a community task force, (ii) hire a consultant who donated his services after being involved in a lawsuit with the district, and (iii) rely on enrollment projections that have underestimated elementary enrollment for the last several years.

In summary, SaveNASchools supports teachers, programs, class size guidelines, long-term planning, and best practices to keep our district strong.  We want North Allegheny to preserve what is great about our district while promoting new ideas that will make it even better.

 

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.

One of those developments is Ridge Forest, which is located off Nicholson Road, in Franklin Park.

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From the Ryan Homes website:

“Ridge Forest is located in desirable Franklin Park, a growing community located northwest of Pittsburgh in the highly sought after North Allegheny School District. With quick access to I-79, I-279 and more, Franklin Park is within easy reach of the region’s retail centers, world-class universities, hospitals, Downtown Pittsburgh and cultural and recreational destinations like Blueberry Hill Park.”

To read more, click here.

Ridge Forest was also discussed at the the August 17, 2011 school board meeting.  Board President Maureen Grosheider, who continues to push forward the agenda for closing a building, noted that these homes will be sold to families with kids.

Over the last 12 years, the district has adhered to an education model that kept elementary class sizes below the district’s guidelines (with only a few exceptions). This year, the district abandoned its successful education model by hiring fewer teachers and allowing class sizes to increase. As a result, there are currently 13 elementary sections operating above the district’s class size guidelines.

To correct class size, the administration said it would need to add 10-14 elementary sections.  However, the administration only expects to have 14 spare classrooms after closing Peebles and expanding McKnight.   If a building is closed, the district will not have enough classrooms to keep elementary class sizes below the district’s guidelines.   The only way the district has enough capacity to close a building is if it accepts higher class sizes for our current elementary school students than what has been provided to the district’s elementary school students over the last 12 years.

Thus, if a building is closed, the model in place for the past 12 years, which kept elementary class sizes below the district’s guidelines, will no longer be adhered to with respect to our current elementary school students.

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North Allegheny Senior High was recently ranked one of the best schools in the nation. We thought it would be interesting to look at the elementary class sizes for the Class of 2013.

Here is what we found (see chart below):

  1. The Class of 2013 NEVER had an elementary section above the district’s guidelines.
  2. There was NEVER an elementary class with 30 or more students.
  3. The average class size for 3rd grade was BELOW 25 students. Thus, 3rd grade operated as a primary grade.

Compare that to today (see chart below):

  1. There are currently 13 elementary sections operating ABOVE the district’s guidelines.
  2. There are currently 8 elementary classes with 30 or more students.
  3. The average class size for 3rd grade is ABOVE 25 students.  Thus, 3rd grade is operating as an intermediate grade.

Given elementary enrollment has been increasing, class sizes have been increasing, and there are 850+ proposed new homes across the district, NA will be wed to higher class sizes if the board votes to close a building.

If the board votes to close a building, the district’s successful elementary education model, which has withstood the test of time, would be replaced with a new model. The new model will include more sections per building, higher class sizes per section, and fewer spare classrooms to manage fluctuations in enrollment.

If the board votes to close a building, the district will be taking a gamble with our current elementary school students, and no one knows what the results of the new education model will be for the Class of 2025.

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