Archive for the ‘Costs’ Category

SaveNASchools has offered the district several suggestions with respect to closing the budget gap.  One of them is outsourcing transportation.  This option would result in two types of savings (1) a one-time windfall from the sale of the bus fleet and, (2) annual savings from cost efficiencies.  Other districts have seen significant benefits from these arrangements.

“Penn Hills’ director of business affairs Richard Liberto said the move would save the district $3.3 million the first year and from $1.4 million to $1.7 million yearly thereafter for the remainder of the five-year contract. The first-year savings figure includes the sale of the district’s bus fleet to First Student.”

To read more, click here.

We’ve also attached a report that explains how outsourcing works and addresses the most common concerns.  Here is an excerpt from the report:

“Our research has found consistent evidence that outsourcing contracts between public school districts and for-profit service providers can be mutually beneficial, producing cost savings (and sometimes new revenues), profits for the contractor, improved services for the school district, and more resources directed into the learning environment.

Education spending in the US is now nearing $600 billion per year, of which at least 34.5%–that’s more than $200 billion—is for non-instructional services. Through outsourcing, school districts seek to reduce the costs in time, personnel, and dollars for services that are necessary but not core to the educational mission, thereby moving greater resources into the classroom.  At the same time, they seek improved quality in these services, which according to the best studies, they receive.”

To read more, click here.


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Group battles Peebles Elementary closing

By Rick Wills Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

With the North Allegheny School Board poised to take public comment on whether to close Peebles Elementary School, opponents are galvanizing to prevent it. A group of parents and taxpayers calling themselves “Save NA Schools” are flooding the district‘s website, sending emails to the media, residents and school board members, and turning up at board meetings to protest any attempt to close Peebles.

They say a consultant‘s report recommending the closure ignores the fact that Bradford Woods Elementary needs $14 million of repairs, while Peebles does not.

Many group members are opposed to closing any schools.

“At the end of the day, what the board says does just not add up. Their actions with the school closings make no sense,” said Daneen Leya of McCandless, a mother of students in the district and a member of Save NA Schools.

Raymond Gualtieri, North Allegheny‘s superintendent, recommended closing Peebles to save $850,000. The district faces a $10 million deficit for the 2013-14 school year, he warned in November.

Yet a consultant‘s report says it would be more economical to close Bradford Woods. School board president Maureen Grosheider questions estimates in the report of the cost to repair Bradford Woods. The study is one of two commissioned by district. The second recommends closing Peebles.

“After the first study, the numbers for renovations just seemed excessive. The question became, ‘Are those numbers really real?‘ ” Grosheider said.

The board will hold the public hearing on Peebles on Jan. 30. A time and location have not been set. A board vote could come within 90 days of the hearing.

Ralph Pagone, one of two board members who voted last month against having a hearing, said the district is rushing the process.

“We are moving too fast. There are conflicting studies. The board did not like the first study and got a study that told them what they wanted to hear. They do not seem to be paying much attention to the public,” Pagone said.

The initial report from Architectural Innovation of Ross recommended closing Bradford Woods and keeping Peebles open. The board‘s majority favors a study by Jon Thomas of Thomas & Williamson construction consulting firm, also of Ross, which recommends closing Peebles.

James Construction Co. sued Thomas & Williamson and the school district over renovation work at North Allegheny in the late 1990s. James won damages of $524,087 from the district in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

“The fact that the district had a recommendation from 12 experts to close a school with $14 million in repairs and commissioned a ‘second opinion‘ from Jon Thomas is very suspect. Especially when you consider Mr. Thomas recommended closing a school with no repair costs and Judge (Timothy P.) O‘Reilly concluded he acted in ‘bad faith‘ the last time he served as a consultant for North Allegheny. This all begs the question: What was the real motivation in hiring Mr. Thomas?” said Tara Fisher, a parent of a Peebles student.

Jon Thomas could not be reached on Wednesday.

Pagone questioned the decision as well. “I am concerned with the outcome of that lawsuit. The findings were not good.”

Grosheider said Thomas has a record of success with the district.

“Mr. Thomas has done work for the district for many years, in many capacities. We have always had good results.”


Read more:

“The District claimed that it had no substitute teachers because the substitutes were hired through an identified contractor.” —Pennsylvania Department of Open Records.


On August 9th, 2012 the Pittsburgh Tribune Review submitted a request, pursuant to the Right-to-Know Law, seeking records related to North Allegheny’s teachers and substitute teachers. [The RTKL is “designed to promote access to official government information in order to prohibit secrets, scrutinize the actions of public officials and make public officials accountable for their actions.”]

On October 10, 2012, the district claimed that the request from the Trib “improperly sought information rather than records, was insufficiently specific, and that certain records do not exist.” The district also “claimed that it had no substitute teachers because the substitutes were hired through an identified contractor.”

On October 15, 2012 the Tribune Review appealed to the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records. After a full review of the appeal,  North Allegheny was required to release the information it initially refused.  Taxpayer dollars were spent fighting what the state determined was “a valid request for records.” The facts of the case are outlined in detail in the Final Determination document issued by the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records on December 3, 2012.  The full text is available here.

The administration’s actions in this case illustrate the same poor fiscal stewardship the district demonstrated in commissioning Jon Thomas, a consultant whose prior work on the district’s elementary schools resulted in a lawsuit that cost NA taxpayers half a million dollars, to give a “second opinion” on the matter of closing an elementary school.


See related post:  NA refuses to release substitute costs; Loses on appeal

Seventy-three Western Pennsylvania public school districts paid nearly $25 million for substitute teachers to cover classes when full-time educators were not in the classroom during the last school year, according to records for 17,000 teachers reviewed by the Tribune-Review.

Seven districts — Chartiers Valley, Derry Area, East Allegheny, Kiski, New Kensington-Arnold, North Allegheny and Uniontown — refused to release the records, but the Trib appealed to the state Office of Open Records and won, forcing them to relinquish the information.

North Allegheny School District
Number of teachers: 626
Money spent on substitute teachers: *
Percentage of local taxes to cover substitute teacher expenses: *
Percentage of time teachers are out of the classroom: 5.33 percent

*Does not include cost of substitutes. North Allegheny officials denied this record, and the Trib appealed the denial with the state Office of Open Records and won. The district had an additional 30 days after the Dec. 3 decision and records had not been received by press time.