Posts Tagged ‘Feasibility Study’

Architectural Innovations, the consulting firm that prepared the Phase 1 report, sent a letter to the district offering to complete a more comprehensive demographic and feasibility study free of charge. The firm presented their initial findings to the district in August 2011.

The letter states:

“We felt then, as we do now, that without evaluating the District as a ‘whole’ the study would not provide the level of information necessary for the Board of School Directors to make appropriate decisions regarding School District facilities.”

This is a huge development for the hundreds of residents that have been urging the administration to do more due diligence.

You can read the entire letter by reading below or clicking here.

The question now is:  What will the district do with this offer?  Come to the school board meeting at 7pm on Wednesday, February 20th and encourage the board to take a step back and gather more evidence before moving forward with a measure as drastic as closing a building.

AI letter-page-001.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

North Allegheny could close Peebles Elementary in cost-saving move

“Tara Fisher, 36, of McCandless, part of the “Save NA Schools” group, passed out a 32-page report contesting the conclusions made by the administration. Fisher contends the school closure would push up class sizes and bring the district dangerously close to capacity in the remaining buildings.

“It’s less than one percent of the district’s budget,” Fisher said. “I’m saying it’s not worth it. You’re disrupting the entire elementary education model.”
Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yournorthhills/yournorthhillsmore/3040037-87/district-schools-board-closure-elementary-gualtieri-peebles-allegheny-close-closing#ixzz2Dp21Icfd

As presented to North Allegheny School District Board of School Directors on November 28, 2012.

[click here] Community Report 1

Based on current enrollment, closing a building would require the remaining buildings to operate at capacities that limit the district’s ability to manage class size and make the system dependent on spare classrooms.  Under the new model, spare classrooms would be used as regular classrooms and “other spares,” such as faculty lounges and open group instructional spaces, would become potential classrooms.  The rooms identified as “other spares” under the new model are not as conducive to learning as a regular classroom setting and displace programs integral to the elementary curriculum.  This compromises the district’s ability to deliver excellence in education and equity across all schools.

The decision to close a school is contingent on a decline in student enrollment and relies on projections made in the Phase 2 Demographics and Feasibility Study (Phase 2 report) and projections made by the administration.  The administration has a 13-year history of forecasting enrollment several hundred students below actual enrollment.  The enrollment projections in the Phase 2 report are below the forecasts provided by the administration, the data used for population projections does not tie to governmental records, and there is a mathematical error in the demographic study that has a significant impact on conclusions related to future growth.  Thus, both sources the district is relying on with respect to a decline in enrollment raise concern with respect to the accuracy of such projections.  If current enrollment goes up, the district cannot reasonably accommodate additional students and faces spending more money than it saved from closing a building.

This report summarizes our concerns, observations, and evaluations in regards to the district’s ability to reasonably accommodate all elementary students in the remaining buildings without compromising the district’s successful elementary education model and curriculum.

  1. Introduction
  2. Building utilization under a new elementary education model
  3. Reliance on declining enrollment projections
  4. Additional Concerns
  5. Conclusion

If previous meetings are any indication, it’s likely to be another packed house when the North Allegheny School Board  meets Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7:00 p.m.,  200 Hillvue Lane.

That direction came after the board listened to to a nearly one-hour demographics and feasibility study presentation by Dr. Brian Miller, assistant superintendent of K-12 Education, and impassioned pleas by several parents.

“If we want to remain a leader in education, in southwestern Pennsylvania, what we should not be doing at a time when Allegheny county is seeing young, educated adults moving into the this area is closing an elementary school instead of preparing for and competing for growth in this district,” said Tara Fisher, a North Allegheny parent. “As a North Allegheny graduate I think we are better than this and I encourage you, despite what the administration tells you about this proposal being possible, that you consider – is this the direction we want to head?”

A consultant has recommended closing Peebles Elementary. Dr. Miller indicated to the board that such a decision would not increase class size nor impact the quality of programs now offered at North Allegheny elementary schools.  But after questions by several board members, Grosheider instructed the administration to consider redistricting plans under four different scenarios:

Parents also asked again for the formation of a community task force to take part in any decisions regarding school closings.Grosheider indicated the board would respond to that request at Wednesday’s meeting.The board is grappling with a projected $8-million dollar deficit and little prospect of increased funding from Harrisburg.

For more information on parent’s efforts to form a community task force, click www.saveNAschools.com
Based upon the 1997 Bozzomo model [Table 3.5: Option #1 ‐ Base Option ‐ PDE Unit Capacities] – a model North Allegheny has used with great success and assumes no more than 25 students in a classroom with a target capacity of 82% for each elementary school building- the elementary schools are working at expected capacities– and any over or under utilization can be easily fixed by limited redistricting.  In fact, the  authors of the Phase 2 report stated that this model “has stood the test of time, albeit with a slight adjustment in the Franklin enrollment zone in 2006.”
If the population of the smaller schools are considered in reference to this capacity, then the schools are working– or, in fact, exceeding their target capacity.
BWE-  88%
HES- 74%
IES -90%
PES- 83%
FES- 100+%
MCK- 100+%
MES-100+ %The latest recommendation by the administration moves to a new elementary school model based on 30 students in a classroom for grades 3 through 5 with a target capacity of 90% for each elementary school building instead of 82%.  This means loading elementary school buildings to 540 students instead of 450 students, which “creates” additional capacity and leads to perceived “excess” capacity in some buildings.

Further, the building capacity numbers that the administration is targeting are a best guess scenario and do not take into account building specifics.  The elementary buildings across the district are not one-size fits all- and important programs will be lost to the reconfiguration of elementary schools.  The presentation Dr. Miller presented to the North Allegheny School board on October 24th assumed target building capacities of 540 for every elementary school except McKnight and Marshall.  This is inconsistent with both the Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies, which listed individual target capacities for each elementary school building. 

 
For example, in the Phase 2 report, NASD target capacity for BWE was listed at 600 students, FES was listed as 595 students and PES was listed at 520 students.  But in the presentation made by Dr. Brian Miller at the October 24th board meeting, excess capacity was calculated using 540 for all three buildings.  Changing the denominator in these calculations has a huge impact on the excess capacity percentages that are being presented to the community and can be very misleading.

At the last NA School board meeting, community members were urged to post questions to the NA Community blog to have their answers regarding school closing recommendations, the Phase 2 Feasibility report, capacity studies, cost savings, redistricting, etc answered in a public forum by the administration.

Here is the link.
NA Community Blog

You’ll notice the last comments were from the end of September.  Please let the administration know that you have questions, that you are concerned, and that you want answers!

A HUGE thank you to everyone that attended the school board meeting last evening. We had a great turnout and representation from 6 of the 7 elementary schools. This movement is about being opposed to closing ANY elementary school in the district because of the impact it would have on the remaining six buildings. Dr. Miller confirmed last night that, no matter which school is closed, it will be felt across the district.

It was extremely encouraging to see several board members step forward and ask the administration for more specific information on how this proposal would impact our elementary school children. We also saw, for the first time, financial estimates tied to this recommendation. The cost of maintaining a small elementary school is below $300k/year (utilities and maintenance) and we heard that it would only save the district about 5 staff members (a principal, secretary, nurse, and a couple specials teachers).Given the district’s operating budget is roughly $126 million per year, if the cost savings from closing a small elementary school are $1.26 million or less, this proposal is best described as “one that will have direct impact on teachers and students across all elementary schools while saving the district 1 percent or less in its annual budget.” This is a VERY powerful point moving forward.Despite that we did not receive a decision on the community task force last evening, and that we were told we won’t receive a decision until after the November board meeting, everyone should feel very encouraged about the information and discussions that took place at the board meeting last night and our position moving forward. Thank you again for your support and lets keep the momentum rolling!

The board meets for its next public session on Oct. 24.

By Richard Cook,  NA Patch

The North Allegheny School Board tomorrow is expected to release updated demographic data that could potentially impact recommendations to close one of the district’s elementary schools. The board meets Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 7:00 p.m. at its Central Administrative offices Hillvue Lane.

At a meeting with school board President Maureen Grosheider at Hosack Elementary School on Oct. 2, parents expressed concerns about the increasing class sizes at several of the elementary schools, and a consultant’s recommendation to close Peebles Elementary.  “I’m not sure the board is ready to decide about closing a building,” Grosheider said. “We need more information from the administration on how we would redistribute the students. Where are the pockets of growth and non-growth. The administration has to look at this from a practical point of view, before any decisions are made.”

Diane Collery, a parent with a group Save NA Schools, said more than 1,000 signatures had been collected on a petition requesting a district-wide community task force be established to be involved in any decisions regarding potential school closings and student reapportionment.

Tara Fisher, another parent with the Save NA Schools group, said that in addition to an answer from the board about the formation of a task force, she also hoped the board would reveal the following:

  • Administration work regarding the recommendation to close Peeble Elementary
  • Building capacities
  • Enrollment trends
  • Current educational programs “Modeling” criteria for different scenarios (e.g. closing an elementary school)
  • Communications
  • Next steps

School Board member Linda Bishop acknowledged at the Sept. 19 school board meeting that the district is facing an $8 million deficit, and the prime culprits include state-mandated pension contributions. “Our contribution went up $2.3 million this year and will go up another $3 million next year,” she said. “By 2015, unless the state legislature does something, we will be looking at $20 million in pension contributions each year.” Bishop also said the district is limited in its ability to raise taxes because of a state limit that ties tax increases to the cost of living. “We could propose a larger increase, but that would have to go to a voter referendum,” she said. “70-75-percent of the people who live in the North Allegheny district don’t have children in school. Convincing them of the need to raise their property taxes is a difficult proposition.”

http://northallegheny.patch.com/articles/north-allegheny-school-board-to-reveal-updated-data-which-could-impact-potential-school-closings

There is a North Allegheny school board meeting on Wednesday, October 24th at 7pm at the Central Admin Offices that will cover information relevant to all elementary school parents. At this meeting, the district’s administration will provide an update on the Phase II Demographics and Feasibility Study and document their work

over the past month. More specifically, the administration will review:

1) Building capacities,
2) Enrollment trends, and the
3) Current educational program.

The administration will also share their “modeling” criteria for different scenarios (e.g. closing an elementary school), communication, and next steps.

Elementary school parents are encouraged to attend so that they can hear first-hand the details of all proposals being considered by the administration and the school board.

School Board President Maureen Grosheider told parents at an Hosack Elementary PFA meeting that “very difficult” decisions will have to be made this year.

 

The Budget

North Allegheny school board President Maureen Grosheider told a group of approximately 50 parents Tuesday night at the Hosack Elementary PFA meeting that the district was facing the “perfect storm” in trying to come up with a balanced budget for next year.

“What we have is a situation where we have fewer and fewer dollars to use for classroom instruction,” she said. “And whatever increased money we get from the state is going for mandated pension contributions and transportation. Add to that, we are also paying the full load for cyber and charter schools. This year, that cost to the North Allegheny School district is $1.4 million dollars.”

Board members Linda Bishop and Beth Ludwig also attended the meeting.

Bishop acknowledged at the Sept. 19 school board meeting that the district is facing an $8 million deficit, and one of the prime culprits is the state mandated pension contributions.

“Our contribution went up $2.3 million this year, and will go up another $3 million next year,” she said. “By 2015, unless the state legislature does something, we will be looking at $20 million in pension contributions each year.”

Bishop also said the district is limited in its ability to raise taxes because of a state limit that ties tax increases to the cost of living.

“We could propose a larger increase, but that would have to go to a voter referendum,” she said. “70-75-percent of the people who live in the North Allegheny district don’t have children in school. Convincing them of the need to raise their property taxes is a difficult proposition.”

Closing Peebles Elementary

Parents in the audience Tuesday night expressed concerns about the increasing class sizes at several of the elementary schools, and a consultant’s recommendation to close Peebles Elementary.

“I’m not sure the board is ready to decide about closing a building,” Grosheider said. “We need more information from the administration on how we would redistribute the students. Where are the pockets of growth and non-growth. The administration has to look at this from a practical point of view, before any decisions are made.”

Laurel Schreiber, a parent, said a lot of parents are upset because there is not a lot of equity among the elementary schools when it comes to class sizes.

Ingomar and Hosack have the largest class sizes,” she said.

Grosheider said the district worked hard to keep the K-2 classes smaller, but was more flexible with grades 3-5.

Ludwig said in the past, the board would have simply hired another teacher to reduce the number of students per class.

“We are not in the economic times where we can just add a teacher,” she said. “We are not hiring, we are not replacing teachers who retire, the money is simply not there.”

Parent’s Reaction

After the meeting Schreiber said she was grateful the board appeared to be listening to her, and other parents’, concerns.

“I hope that the school board will continue to evaluate whether the projected capacity they are forecasting is a realistic capacity– and that they will continue to explore the ramifications of closing an elementary building,” she said. “Many of us are far from convinced that closing a building will result in smaller classroom sizes across the district.”

Before the board can vote to close a school, it must hold at least one public hearing, advertised at least 15 days in advance. The board cannot vote for at least three months after the hearing.

Board President Maureen Grosheider said the board will have new demographic data at its next meeting that could potentially impact recommendations about any potential school closings. That meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 24.

http://northallegheny.patch.com/articles/north-allegheny-school-board-president-says-district-is-facing-the-perfect-storm