Posts Tagged ‘GOAL’

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.

 

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On Nov. 14, 2012, the administration presented a redistricting scenario that would “balance enrollment” by keeping all seven elementary schools open. Under this scenario, the average enrollment per building would be:

–780 students = McKnight and Marshall
–400 students = BWE, FES, HES, IES, and PES

On Nov. 28, 2012, the administration presented a redistricting scenario that showed enrollment totals in the six remaining elementary schools if Peebles were to close.  Under this scenario, the average enrollment per building would be:

–850 students = McKnight and Marshall
–460 students = BWE, FES, HES, IES, and PES

SaveNASchools believes the district should “balance enrollment” by keeping all seven elementary schools open. This would allow the district to shift students from buildings that are over-capacity (i.e. Franklin) to buildings that are under-capacity (i.e. Hosack). Keeping all seven buildings open will provide the district with the space necessary to:

  1. keep class size within the district’s guidelines
  2. adequately administer elementary programs (music, ESAP, GOAL)
  3. reasonably accommodate future growth

The chart below shows the impact on each elementary building based on the redistricting scenarios presented at the Nov. 14 and Nov. 28 school board meetings. The district has not provided maps or other information related to these scenarios.

Post for March 15-3(5)-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.  The details of these new housing developments are summarized below:

  1. Ridge Forest by Ryan, located off Nicholson Road
    –112 townhomes, 88 single family homes
    –community is actively selling with 21 presold homes
  2. Venango Trails, located in northern Marshall Township
    –120 townhomes, 350 single family homes
    –community is actively selling with 35 presold homes
  3. Village at Marshall Ridge by Ryan, located off Warrendale Bayne Road/I-79
    –104 townhomes
    –community is actively selling with 5 presold homes
  4. Waterford Place by Heartland, located off Ringeisen Road
    –14 single family homes
    –community is actively selling
  5. Chapel Hill Estates, located off Wexford Run Road
    –20 single family homes
    –community is actively selling
  6. Park Ridge Manor by Madia Homes, Summer Drive-Allison Park
    –20 single family homes
    –community is actively selling with 6 presold homes
  7. 33 acres of property sold behind Franklin Elementary
    –developer unknown
    –30 single family home sites have been proposed

As noted in last week’s post, elementary enrollment has increased since the start of the school year. Peebles and McKnight, which are not situated next to new housing developments, have seen the largest increases. Thus, the new developments listed above would be in addition to the growth the district is currently experiencing.

Based on the February demographics meetings at each elementary school, the administration said it only expects to have 10 spare classrooms if students from Peebles are redistricted into the 6 remaining schools. This means some schools would only have 1 spare room available to manage class size.

If Peebles is closed, the district would continue to experience 30+ students per classroom or displacement of programs integral to the elementary curriculum, such as music, ESAP, and GOAL.

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.

  • The Administration’s recommendation to close an elementary school is based on 33 spare “classrooms” that exist at the elementary level. The 33 “classrooms” identified by the Administration include faculty lounges, learning support rooms, music rooms, GOAL rooms, and large group instructional spaces. These spaces were NOT designed to be used as classrooms. The district does NOT have enough excess capacity at the elementary school level to close a building unless buildings are operated close to their gross capacities requiring non-classrooms be used for direct instruction.
  • The Administration has focused on the fact that the small elementary schools have a gross capacity of 550 students. We’ve discussed in our earlier posts that buildings are not designed to run at gross capacity. For example, Franklin has a current enrollment of 515 students and the only spare classroom that exists is a faculty lounge. Franklin cannot reasonably accommodate 35 additional students.
  • The Administration has focused on buildings that are operating below capacity (Hosack) instead of buildings that are operating above capacity (Franklin). If students are moved from buildings operating above capacity to those that are operating below capacity, through minimal redistricting, the district can balance enrollment and operate all of the buildings efficiently.

If enrollment at the small elementary schools is considered in reference to the 450 student target capacity established by Pennsylvania Department of Education guidelines, then each school would be operating at approximately 89% of its target capacity if all buildings remain open. This is calculated by taking the balanced enrollment totals for each building from the Administration’s November 14th presentation  and dividing by the 450 student target capacity established by the state: [Click here to see the balanced enrollment slide.]

BWE = 400/450 = 89%

FES = 403/450 = 89.5%

HES = 408/450 = 91%

IES = 401/450 = 89%

PES = 397/450 = 88%


Under this scenario, Hosack would pick up 75 additional students and excess capacity issues would be resolved through limited redistricting.
All regular classrooms would be in use and spare classrooms would be available (instead of non-classrooms) for overflow or bubbles in enrollment.
With respect to the two larger elementary schools, enrollment at McKnight would be 782 students (instead of 837 if Peebles was closed) and enrollment at Marshall would be 774 (instead of 852 if Peebles was closed). These are more realistic capacities for our children.


We maintain that balancing enrollment, through limited redistricting, is the solution to the excess capacity issues that exist at the elementary school level. The district does NOT have enough excess capacity to close a building without compromising the education of our elementary school students.

If Peebles had been closed this year, how would the other buildings have been impacted?  We will be highlighting class size and other issues at the remaining buildings in our posts this week.  Today’s focus is on Ingomar Elementary. [Click IES- final (scenario #1) for more detail. The slide is from the Administration’s November 28th presentation to the school board.]

  • Ingomar would pick up 79 new students if Peebles was closed.
  • Its operating capacity would go from 75% to 90%.
  • 5th grade classes would have increased by 4 students per class (current class sizes are 23, 23, and 23, but would have been 27, 27, 27).
  • 4th grade classes would have increased by an average of 7 students per class (current class sizes are 21, 22, and 23, but would have been 29, 29, and 28).
  • 3rd grade would have had to operate 4 sections (instead of 3) and use a spare classroom (which would have displaced programs operating in that room).
  • 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 room).
  • 1st grade classes would have increased by an average of 2 students per class (current class sizes are 21, 21, 22, but would have been 24, 24, 24).
  • Kindergarten would have had 13 new kids and operated an extra section.
  • With the extra sections added under the new model 2 spare “classrooms” would remain (the Music room and GOAL room).
  • If current enrollment goes up, Ingomar would have to use its Music room and GOAL room as classrooms. 

This is the perfect illustration of operating at target capacity v. gross capacity.  It’s important to understand that buildings are designed to run at their target capacity and NOT gross capacity.  Pennsylvania Department of Education guidelines establish a 450 student target capacity and a 550 student gross capacity for Ingomar Elementary.

Current enrollment at Ingomar is 406 students.  If Peebles is closed, the enrollment at Ingomar Elementary would be 485 students.  Thus, Ingomar would be operating above its 450 student target capacity.  To reach its 550 student gross capacity, it would utilize additional rooms (Music and GOAL) to accommodate 65 more students (550-485).  This is why it’s not realistic to operate a building at gross capacity.

However, under the new model, the administration has abandoned Pennsylvania Department of Education guidelines and established a 510 student target capacity (instead of 450) for Ingomar.

Bottom Line:  Under the new model, the administration is targeting 104 more students at Ingomar than what it has now (510-406) by abandoning Pennsylvania Department of Education guidelines and using its own district guidelines instead.

To learn more about the impact of operating at gross capacity, go to the Building Utilization Video on the North Allegheny School District web site.  Let the video load and listen to the consultant’s comments at minute 42.  He states that it’s unrealistic to operate buildings at gross capacity and that the district does not have the ability to close an elementary school unless it abandons Pennsylvania Department of Education guidelines and uses its own guidelines instead.

See page 19 of the SaveNASchools Community Report  for Pennsylvania Department of Education target capacity and gross capacity guidelines for each school.