Posts Tagged ‘Ingomar’

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

Based on the district’s records, elementary enrollment has increased by 31 students since the start of the school year.

Peebles and McKnight Elementary have seen the largest number of new students. Since the start of the year, Peebles Elementary has increased by 9 students and McKnight Elementary has increased by 14 students.

At Peebles, 4 of the 9 new students are in first grade, which illustrates the importance of operating classrooms below class size guidelines at the start of the school year.

Peebles started the year with 3 first grade classes of 23, 23, and 24 students, but those sections are now operating at 25, 25, and 24 students.

The chart below illustrates changes in elementary enrollment at each building for the current year. All information was obtained from the district under the right-to-know law.

Enrollment_Changes_3_

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

We’re asking parents from every elementary school to register to speak at the January 30th hearing and speak about the impact closing Peebles will have on YOUR school.

You can register to speak by emailing the school board secretary, Rose Mary Ryan, at rryan@northallegheny.org.

If Peebles had closed this year, the impact on the remaining elementary school buildings would have been as outlined below (based on the administration’s October 24, 2012 proposed floor plans and their November 28, 2012 school board presentation):

Impact on Marshall Elementary

  • Marshall would have picked up 138 new students
  • Its operating capacity would have gone from 79% to 95%
  • 5th grade would have had to operate 5 sections (instead of 4)
  • 4th grade would have had to operate 5 sections (instead of 4)
  • 3rd grade would have had to operate 6 sections (instead of 5)
  • 2nd grade would have had to operate 6 sections (instead of 5)
  • 1st grade would have had to operate 7 sections (instead of 6)
  • Kindergarten would have had to operate 5 sections (instead of 4)

Based on the October 24th proposed floor plans, Marshall would’ve had to use its 4th Centrum and GOAL room as classrooms.

Only one “spare” room would’ve remained and it’s currently used for the YMCA program.

According to the Sept 28, 2011 school board minutes, the Venango Trails development (adjacent to Marshall) could add 190 students to the Marshall area.

Impact on McKnight Elementary

  • McKnight would have picked up 57 new students
  • Its operating capacity would have gone from 88% to 95%
  • 5th grade would have had to operate 6 sections (instead of 5)
  • 4th grade would have increased by 2 students per class (current class sizes are 27, 27, 28, 28, 28, but would’ve been 29, 29, 30, 30, 30).
  • 3rd grade classes would have increased to 29 students in EVERY CLASS
  • 2nd grade would have had to operate 6 sections (instead of 5)
  • 1st grade would have increased to 25 students in EVERY CLASS
  • Kindergarten would have picked up 6 new kids

Based on the October 24th proposed floor plans, only 2 “spares” would’ve remained at McKnight (the Student Assistance room and Faculty Lounge).

An increase of 1 student in 1st grade and 3 students in 4th grade would’ve required the use of both spares, unless the district goes above class size guidelines.

Impact on Ingomar Elementary

  • Ingomar would have picked up 79 new students
  • Its operating capacity would have gone 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’ve 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’ve been 29, 29, and 28)
  • 3rd grade would have had to operate 4 sections (instead of 3)
  • 2nd grade would have had to operate 4 sections (instead of 3)
  • 1st grade classes would have increased by an average of 2 students per class (current class sizes are 21, 21, 22, but would’ve been 24, 24, 24)
  • Kindergarten would’ve had 13 new kids and operated an extra section

Based on the October 24th proposed floor plans, only 2 “spares” would’ve remained at Ingomar (the LGI room and GOAL room). The LGI room has no windows. An increase of 4 students in 1st grade and an increase of 5 students in 4th grade would’ve required the use of both spares, unless the district goes above class size guidelines.

Impact on Bradford Woods Elementary

  • Bradford Woods would have picked up 36 new students
  • 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’ve 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’ve 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’ve been 24, 24, 24)
  • 2nd grade would have had to operate 4 sections (instead of 3)
  • 1st grade would have remained the same
  • Kindergarten would have increased by an average of 1.5 students

Based on the October 24th proposed floor plans, only 2 “spares” would’ve remained at Bradford Woods (the Life Skills and GOAL room). According to the Sept 28, 2011 school board minutes, the Venango Trails development (adjacent to Bradford Woods) could add 190 students to the Marshall area.

Impact on Hosack Elementary

  • Hosack would have picked up 135 new students
  • Its operating capacity would go from 61% to 86%
  • 5th grade would have operated with 3 sections (instead of 2)
  • 4th grade would have operated with 3 sections (instead of 2)
  • 3rd grade would have operated with 3 sections (instead of 2)
  • 2nd grade would have operated with 4 sections (instead of 3)
  • 1st grade would have operated with 4 sections (instead of 2)
  • Kindergarten would have operated with 3 sections (instead of 2)

Based on the October 24th proposed floor plans, only one “spare” would’ve remained at Hosack (the Learning Support room).

An increase of 6 students in either 3rd or 4th grade would’ve required the use of Hosack’s only spare room, unless the district goes above class size guidelines.

Hosack sits adjacent to several housing plans that are currently under construction, including Heartland Homes Waterford Place.

Impact on Franklin Elementary

  • Franklin’s enrollment would decrease by 59 students because it is currently operating above its target capacity of 510 students (it has 515 students)
  • Its operating capacity would go from 96% to 85%.
  • 5th grade would have operated 3 sections (same as currently).
  • 4th grade would have operated 3 sections (same as currently).
  • 3rd grade would have increased by an average of 3 students per class.
  • 2nd grade would have operated 4 sections (same as currently).
  • 1st grade would have operated 4 sections (same as currently).
  • Kindergarten would have operated 3 sections instead of 4.

Based on the October 24th proposed floor plans, only 2 “spares” would’ve remained at Franklin. One is a faculty lounge that is only 645 square feet. Franklin sits adjacent to several housing developments along Nicholson Road that include 85+ single family homes, 110+ townhouses, and 225+ apartments.

The latest installment of the district’s propaganda for closing Peebles is titled “FAQ: The Recommendation to Close Peebles Elementary School.”  Here are the 5 points we find most interesting:

  1. “NASD could close a small elementary school and still have 9 spare classrooms to work with for flexibility in the remaining six schools.”  The administration listed 11 spare classrooms in their Nov 28, 2012 presentation to the school board, but now they only have 9.  To be clear, 9 spares across 6 schools means some buildings would only have 1 spare available to manage class size.
  2. “Class size would not be affected.” 

The administration is using averages to mask what is happening on a per building basis.  The administration’s Nov 28, 2012 slides clearly illustrate that:

(1) McKnight, Ingomar, and Bradford Woods would have seen an increase in class size across multiple grade levels, and

(2) there would be 17 classes with 29+ students and minimal ability to manage class size given only one spare in some schools.

  1. “Peebles has no ‘spare classrooms’ when the facility is analyzed under the guidelines of the redistricting model, which allows for 4 sections of grades K-2.”  This highlights one of the biggest issues related to the district’s new model; the small schools that remain would be required to run 4 sections of K-2, even though they were only designed to run 3 sections.  The reason why no “spare” exists at Peebles, and only 1 or 2 “spares” exist in the remaining buildings, is because Hosack, Bradford Woods, Franklin, Ingomar, and Peebles were NOT designed to operate as 4-round schools.   
  2. “Closing Peebles Elementary School will save NASD at least $1.25M each year for the next seven years.”  The administration listed a savings of $850,000 in its Nov 28, 2012 presentation to the school board.  We wish we could explain the $400,000 change, but as we’ve already seen, the data supporting this recommendation is not consistent and continues to be a moving target.
  3. “The District does not have a tenant for the Peebles building.”  It has been confirmed that LaRoche College is the potential tenant for Peebles Elementary.  Since an official legal document is not in place, the district can technically state it “does not have a tenant.”  The administration illustrated its fondness for semantics when it recently told the Tribune Review it had “no substitute costs” because its substitutes were hired through a contractor.  Given the administration’s cost savings calculation is contingent on $1M of “Potential Lease Revenue,” it’s clear that there is indeed a tenant for Peebles.

Saving the best for last: “Mr. Thomas donated his services free of charge to complete this work.”  So, Mr. Thomas, a consultant from a construction management firm, “donated all of his services” to complete the Phase 2 report and recommended closing a school with $0 repairs instead of one with $14 million in repairs.  Nothing more needs to be said.

SaveNASchools firmly believes that NO SCHOOL in the district should be closed and its mission is to illustrate

(1) the district’s position is incorrect, and

(2) the district’s process is incorrect.

1.  SaveNASchools believes the district DOES NOT have the ability to close a school without compromising its successful elementary education model. If Peebles is closed, the detrimental impact to the remaining buildings will include;

* an increase in class size (e.g. Ingomar would‘ve seen an increase of 7 students per class in 4th grade and 4 students per class in 5th grade)

* an increase in sections (e.g. Ingomar, Franklin, Hosack, and Bradford Woods would operate as four-round instead of three-round schools)

* use of non-classrooms as classrooms (e.g. large group instruction spaces at both Ingomar and Marshall would be used as spare classrooms; the space at Marshall requires accordion walls and the space at Ingomar has no windows)

2. SaveNASchools believes the district’s process for closing a school DOES NOT adhere to a best practices model. The California Department of Education, the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, and the Council of Educational Facility Planners International encourages the following best practices for considering a school closure;

* form a district advisory committee before decisions are made about a school closure that includes a cross section of community members (the school board has not addressed a petition with 1,000+ signatures requesting a community task force)

* evaluate the condition, operating costs, transportation costs, and value of each building, which includes getting appraisals (the district has not performed a cost analysis per building nor has it gotten appraisals)

* ensure the process of gathering facts is as credible, transparent, and non-political as possible (the district has two reports-the first report recommends closing a school with $14 million in repairs and the second report recommends closing a school with $0 in repairs; the second report is from a consultant that was involved in a lawsuit with the district where a judge ruled he acted in “bad faith” and cost NA taxpayers over half a million dollars)

The district’s failure to adhere to a best practices model for closing a school DOES NOT mean that a school other than Peebles should be closed. It merely highlights the district’s failure to involve taxpayers, lack of due diligence and inconsistencies regarding the process for closing a school.

Today is the last day to call the school board office to register to speak at the meeting on Wednesday, December 19th.  Please call 412-369-5437 and request to speak at the BEGINNING of the meeting.  We need every parent to advocate for their child by standing up and asking school board members to vote against scheduling a public hearing. 

The recommendation to close an elementary school moves students into non-classroom spaces for direct instruction.  This is simply unacceptable.  Every child in the North Allegheny school district deserves to be in a classroom to learn. 

If Peebles had been closed this year, the following non-classrooms would have been used:

  • Marshall would have had to operate a class out of their 4th Centrium (large group instructional space)
  • Marshall would have had to operate another class out of their GOAL room
  • McKnight elementary would have had to operate a class out of their ESL room


Under the new model, the remaining buildings are pushed so close to their Pennsylvania Department of Education gross capacities that only non-classrooms remain as “spare” classrooms.  

  • Hosack would only have one spare classroom available; it’s the learning support room
  • Marshall would only have one spare classroom available; it’s the YMCA room
  • Ingomar would only have two spare classrooms available; one does not have windows and the other is the GOAL room
  • McKnight would only have two spare classrooms available; one is the faculty lounge and the other is the student assistance room
  • Bradford Woods would only have two spare classrooms available; one is the Life Skills room and the other is the GOAL room
  • Franklin would only have two spare classrooms available; one is a faculty lounge and its only 645 square feet


There is no cost savings or operational efficiency benefit that can justify compromising the education of our elementary school students. 

If the Administration and Board have run out of ideas, why not bring the community on board to help brainstorm ways to keep this district strong in light of trying economic times?  Why not establish a community task force to review every line item in the district’s budget and determine where we need to set our priorities?  Why are we in such a rush to do something as drastic and irreversible as closing a school after seeing how detrimental the impact will be on our elementary 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.

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

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