Posts Tagged ‘class size guidelines’

Two years ago, a bipartisan group of NA residents came together to advocate for change on the North Allegheny School Board.   At that time, most of the school board members had been on the Board for over a decade, including Maureen Grosheider–who has been on the Board for 2 decades.
 
Under Grosheider’s Leadership, NA lacked a long-term strategic plan:
  1. The Board raised taxes for 3 years in a row (2010, 2011, and 2012).
  2. Inaccurate projections led to the recommendation to close an elementary school–the District projected an $8 million deficit, but ended the year with a $5 million surplus and an increase in elementary enrollment.
  3. Elementary classes operated above class size guidelines (11 sections were above the guidelines at the start of the 2012-13 school year).
  4. Classroom technology fell behind comparator districts (including Hampton and North Hills).
  5. The District was not compliant with Board Policy #4125–which requires that the District maintain a Citizen’s Advisory Committee to provide feedback on important District matters.
As a result of these issues, the district-wide movement to Save NA Schools took hold and 3 new members were elected to the NA School Board.  After the 2013 election, board members chose new board leadership and began the process of moving NA forward.
 
Under New Board Leadershipthe following changes have occurred:
 
  1. A new Budget and Finance Committee, comprised of 3 Board Members, was created to help prioritize District expenditures and develop a long-term plan with respect to fiscal management and tax increases.
  2. A new Technology Advisory Committee, comprised of teachers, parents, and taxpayers, was created to provide a variety of stakeholders with the opportunity to develop recommendations around advancing classroom technology. 
  3. A new Elementary Class Size Policy was created to provide guidelines for determining the number of elementary sections at the start of the year.
  4. A new Alternative Revenue Initiative was created for soliciting “payments in lieu of taxes” from large, non-profit organizations that reside in the District and benefit from the NA brand.  
  5. A new Citizen’s Advisory Committee was reinstated to give NA constituents the opportunity to provide feedback on important District matters.
 
As you can see, many positive changes have occurred under new board leadership.  We believe it’s important to keep that momentum going.  
 
Vote FILIAGGI, FINLEY, MAHLER, MEYER, DISQUE, & BLACKBURN on May 19th to Move NA Forward!
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Third day enrollment records for the 2014-15 school year show the District has 3,553 elementary students–160 students higher than projected.

In 2012, the District hired a consultant who predicted elementary enrollment would decline to 3393 in 2014.  The consultant recommended closing an elementary school.  Last year’s elementary enrollment beat projections by 150 students and was the highest enrollment the District had seen in 15 years.  This year’s elementary enrollment is the 3rd highest in 15 years.
 
Third day enrollment records for the 2014-15 school year also show the impact of the new elementary class size policy, which was adopted in May 2014.
 
Under the new policy, the District is operating 158 elementary sections and no sections started the school year above the class size guidelines.  Compare this to 2012, when 11 sections started the school year above the class size guidelines because the District only operated 145 sections.
 
[Third day enrollment data: 2014 vs 2012]

Third day enrollment data: 2014 vs 2012

Class size guidelines are 25 students for grades K-2 and 30 students for grades 3-5.  The new class size policy states that the Administration shall determine the number of elementary sections in a manner that ensures that no section exceeds 29 students in 4th-5th grade, 27 students in 3rd grade, and 24 students in Kindergarten-2nd grade, when sections are created in early August.
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The North Allegheny School Board approved a policy Wednesday that sets limits on elementary class sizes.

According to the policy, the administration will set the number of sections according to how many students are enrolled 30 days before the first day of school.

No more than 24 students can be in kindergarten through second grade, 27 students in third grade and 29 students in fourth and fifth grades.

To read more, click here.

The North Allegheny School Board approved a proposed final budget Wednesday that does not raise taxes, but seeks to fund repairs to three buildings by a bond issue.

The district is looking at $8 million in renovations to Bradford Woods Elementary, $11.6 million to Marshall Elementary; and $14.9 million to Marshall Middle School, according to a 2012 study. All were built or last renovated in the early 1990s.

To read more, click here.

 

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North Allegheny school directors who were elected on the platform of elementary class size made good on a campaign promise. They have proposed a method to determine the number of sections of each elementary grade.

To read more, click here.

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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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.

 

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14 spares