Archive for the ‘The Impact’ Category

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.

May 7 Chart(1)-page-001

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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.

Class of 2013-page-001

March25image-page-001

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 Venango Trails, which is located in northern Marshall Township.

venango picstitch

From the August 17, 2011 School Board Minutes:

GrosBouquoteVenangp

BishopVenangoTrails

Based on the administration’s March 20th presentation to the school board, Marshall Elementary will only have 2 spare classrooms after students are redistricted from the closure of Peebles Elementary.

14 spares

With many classrooms operating close to district guidelines, the two spare classrooms at Marshall Elementary could be utilized by adding just a few new students to the building. The administration has not addressed how it will accommodate the large amount of growth projected from the Venango Trails development.

 

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Related posts

New Housing Developments in the North Allegheny School District
Video of School Board Member Linda Bishop’s Comments on Growth
Videos on School Board President’s Comments on Growth and Closing a Building
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

If Peebles is closed, 4 of the 6 remaining schools would have building totals higher than any other year since the district’s 1999 elementary renovations.

The district’s successful elementary model, which has withstood the test of time, would be abandoned in place of a new model.  The new model would operate 3-round schools as 4-round schools and leave some buildings with only one spare classroom to manage class size.

All supporting documentation can be found by referencing Attachments 2-7 and 20-31 of Community Report #2.

building size

HES spares

MES spares

MCK spares

ies spares

At the public hearing, SaveNASchools provided an analysis of elementary enrollment data over the last 12 years.  This information was presented by Tara Fisher.  You can watch a video of her remarks by clicking here .

The elementary enrollment information is included in Save NA Schools Community Report 2 which was submitted into the public record at the hearing.  The supporting data for statements related to elementary enrollment can be found by referencing Attachments 1-8 and Attachments 20-31 of the report.

The graphs presented to the board are included below.

2000-2011 Elementary Enrollment Totals-page-001
2000-2011 McCandless Enrollment Totals-page-001
2000-2011 Ingomar-Franklin Enrollment Totals-page-001
2000-2011 Bradford Woods-Marshall Enrollment Totals-page-001

Next week, the administration will be proposing cuts to elementary school programs in an attempt to “divide and conquer” the movement against closing an elementary school building. The district will outline options that suggest elementary parents must choose between smaller class sizes and programs integral to the elementary curriculum.

SaveNASchools has suggested outsourcing transportation, staggering bus schedules, and advertising on the district’s website to address the current budget gap. These ideas are being considered and adopted by other school districts. Quaker Valley and Penn Hills have chosen to outsource transportation, while North Hills is considering staggering bus schedules and establishing a community task force.

On October 24, 2012, SaveNASchools presented a petition to the school board with 1,000+ signatures requesting that the district form a community task force to help brainstorm a variety of options for closing the budget gap without compromising the district’s reputation for excellence in education. It suggested the task force be comprised of representatives from each of the district’s 12 schools, along with teachers, administrators, and other residents.

SaveNASchools has always advocated that the district not compromise its successful elementary education model. The group has noted that, if a building is closed, “the use of spare classrooms as regular classrooms would displace programs critical to the elementary curriculum, such as music, GOAL and ESAP.”  These programs are integral to the elementary curriculum and should NOT be cut.

The district’s position that parents must choose between closing a school or cutting elementary programs only illustrates that the administration continues to lack a long-term, strategic plan with respect to the budget gap. It’s this lack of foresight that has contributed to the district falling behind in security measures, technology, and establishing an appropriate reserve to pay state mandated pension costs.

SaveNASchools believes that a district-wide community task force, which would explore all options for cutting costs and raising revenues in these challenging economic times, will allow taxpayers to be part of key decisions. A community group can provide the district with more ideas and channel the community support the district needs regarding certain proposals.

SaveNASchools encourages the board and administration to invite residents to the table instead of pitting them against one another and dismantling the very things that have made this district great. This is a time for the community to unite and advocate as one for the future of the North Allegheny School District.