Posts Tagged ‘elementary’

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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New records, released by the district under the Right-to-Know Law, show that the three elementary schools with the most growth over the past year were:

–Peebles (+15 students)

–Hosack (+20 students)

–McKnight (+25 students)

The net growth at Hosack, Peebles, and McKnight was 60 students—which is higher than the 52 student net growth across all 7 elementary schools.

2013 third day enrollment

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.

 

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

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


On Aug 17, 2011, School Board President Maureen Grosheider commented on growth in the district and the idea of closing an elementary building.  We believe these comments are important and should be heard by residents across the district before attending the public hearing tomorrow:

Attend the Public Hearing tomorrow, at 7pm in the Carson Middle School Auditorium, 200 Hillvue Lane, Pittsburgh

Advocate for all 3,500+ elementary students in the district by telling the school board to keep Peebles Elementary open!

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See related post–  2011: Board members express concern about enrollment projections

Today we conclude our series on class size and capacity issues at the remaining buildings by focusing on Marshall and Bradford Woods Elementary.

Please note that we will not be reviewing Hosack or Franklin.  Hosack already has class sizes of 30+ students (and thus will not see an increase in class size).  Franklin is already operating above its target capacity with a current enrollment of 515 students (and thus will not see an increase in capacity). For those interested, here for the slides on Hosack and Franklin.

That said, what would Marshall and Bradford Woods Elementary have looked like if Peebles was closed this year?  These slides are from the Administration’s November 28th presentation to the school board:  MES and BWE.

Marshall Elementary
  • Marshall would pick up 138 new students if Peebles was closed.
  • Its operating capacity would go from 79% to 95%.
  • 5th grade would have had to operate 5 sections (instead of 4) and use a spare room (which would have displaced programs operating in that room).
  • 4th grade would have had to operate 5 sections (instead of 4) and use a spare room (which would have displaced programs operating in that room).
  • 3rd grade would have had to operate 6 sections (instead of 5) and use a spare room (which would have displaced programs operating in that room).
  • 2nd grade would have had to operate 6 sections (instead of 5) and use a spare room (which would have displaced programs operating in that room).
  • 1st grade would have had to operate 7 sections (instead of 6) and use a spare room (which would have displaced programs operating in that room).
  • Kindergarten would have had to operate 5 sections (instead of 4).
  • With the 6 extra sections added under the new model, Marshall would have had to use its 4th Centrium (large group instruction space) and GOAL room as classrooms.  Only one spare classroom would have remained and it is used for the YMCA program.
  • If current enrollment goes up, Marshall would have to use its YMCA room as a classroom.  No other spare classrooms exist.  Marshall would face class sizes of 25+ for grades K-2 and 30+ for grades 3-5 if there is growth in the Marshall area (e.g. Venango Trails development with 400+ proposed single family homes.) 
Bradford Woods Elementary
  • Bradford Woods would pick up 36 new students if Peebles was closed.
  • Its operating capacity would go from 74% to 81%.
  • 5th grade would have increased by an average of 3 students per class (current class sizes are 24, 24, 26, but would have been 28, 28, 27).
  • 4th grade would have increased by an average of 2 students per class (current class sizes are 24, 25, 25, but would have been 27, 27, 27).
  • 3rd grade would have increased by an average of 3 students per class (current class sizes are 21, 21, 22, but would have been 24, 24, 24).
  • 2nd grade would have had to operate 4 sections (instead of 3) and use a spare classroom (which would have displaced programs operating in that classroom)
  • 1st grade would have remained the same.
  • Kindergarten would have increased by an average of 1.5 students 
  • If current enrollment goes up, Bradford Woods would have to use its GOAL room and Life Skills room as classrooms.