Posts Tagged ‘McKnight’

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

North Allegheny Patch

The community group “Save NA Schools” says the most recent enrollment numbers, obtained under the “right to know” law, confirm what it campaigned more than a year for; closing an elementary school in the North Allegheny School District would lead to larger class sizes.

To read more, click here.

The administration has recommended adding 5 classrooms (four regular and one special education classroom) to McKnight Elementary to address the issue of class size. However, the “new recommendation” does not provide enough spare classrooms to keep class sizes below the district’s guidelines.

Here’s why…

  • If Peebles is closed and 5 classrooms (four regular and one special education classroom) are added to McKnight, only 14 spare classrooms would remain across the district. This is taken from the administration’s presentation on March 20th which shows three spare classrooms at both McKnight and Ingomar and two spare classrooms at each of the four remaining buildings.
  • To keep class sizes below district guidelines, the administration said it would need to add 10-14 elementary sections next year.  This assumes a class size cap of 29 students for intermediate grades and 24 students for primary grades.  If third grade is treated as an intermediate grade, the district would need to add 10 elementary sections.  If third grade is treated as a primary grade (like it is at Pine Richland), the district would need to add 14 elementary sections.
  • Thus, the district would have to utilize all 14 of the spare classrooms available under the new recommendation in order to restore class size to 2009 levels (when the district offered 158 classes to 3,500 students).  This means no spare classrooms would remain if a building is closed.

As previously noted, elementary enrollment has increased over the last several years. The district has allowed class size to go above district guidelines, thereby creating “empty classrooms,” by only offering 145 sections to our 3,560 elementary students.

If a building is closed, the district will be wed to higher class sizes both now and in the future. Given there are several new housing developments across the district, which are projected to add hundreds of elementary students to the system, the “new recommendation” has the same class size issues as the original recommendation.

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

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

March 7, 2013

The board accepted the retirements Feb. 27 of 31 employees — 28 of them teachers — with a combined 835 years of service. Some of the teachers have more than 40 years of experience.

The district is in the middle of a three-year early retirement incentive to reduce personnel costs. Staffing decreased by nearly 48 full-time equivalent employees as of January. Most of the newest retirees will be replaced, administrators said.

The school board held a public hearing Jan. 30 on the proposal to close Peebles Elementary School, and can vote on the proposal after April 30. Elementary parents, in the meantime, continue to lobby the board to keep all seven elementary schools open.

“I implore you to rethink this entire process,” said Inez Duchi, noting that the gap between revenues and expenditures in the proposed 2013-14 budget is less than $1 million. “Closing Peebles is a drop of water in a real ocean.”

Mrs. Duchi said that any redistricting proposals, which are scheduled to be revealed March 20, will not leave parents with enough time to adjust.

“Our children and parents need planning time. Children with special needs need time for transition,” she said. “Children are resilient but special needs children, especially, need more time for transition.”

Allison Minton, parent of a second-grader at McKnight Elementary School, said that closing a well-loved, high-performing school “should always be a last resort. “There are many, many precious little lives in your hands as you make these decisions. Our children are not data points on a chart. Please make these decisions with your eyes wide open.”

Laurie Nelson, a mortgage broker in a real estate office, said she does not see enrollment declining in the future, citing seven new housing plans that are planned, mostly in Franklin Park and Marshall. In one plan, there will be nine elementary-age children moving into the six homes that have been pre-sold, she said.

Existing homes are also turning over to young families, she said. “There is a huge demand for homes right now. Sales were up 33 percent here in 2012.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-north/north-school-news-678310/#ixzz2MrO6wMYa

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

What are North Allegheny’s class size guidelines and how will things change under the new model?

North Allegheny has class size guidelines of 25 students for primary grades (K-2) and 30 students for intermediate grades (3-5). The administration has noted that class size guidelines are NOT maximums.

Guidelines vs. actuals

–Demographics and Feasibility Update- October 2012

The administration has demonstrated that it is willing to let class sizes go above 30 students by accepting 4th grade classes of 31 and 32 students at Hosack this year. Hosack also has two 3rd grade classes with 30 students each.

It’s important to note that other school districts, like Pine-Richland, treat 3rd grade as a primary grade (instead of an intermediate grade) and thus maintain smaller class sizes. The school board has acknowledged that 3rd grade is a formative year and that the district has tried to hold 3rd grade classes closer to 25 students/class like other primary grades.

Per the Nov 28, 2012 school board minutes:

11.28.12 quotes- final

–NASD Official School Board Minutes- November 28, 2012

However, under the new model, the “number of available seats” is calculated based on 30 students in every 3rd grade class.  At McKnight, every 3rd grade class would have had 29 students in it and several 3rd grade classes across the district would have been at 27+ students. In fact, if Peebles had closed this year, the average 3rd grade class would have been 26.8 students at North Allegheny.

As you can see from the chart, the average 3rd grade class size at Pine-Richland is 21 students, the average 3rd grade class size at Mt. Lebanon is 21 students, and the average 3rd grade class size at Hampton is 24 students.

Bottom line: If Peebles is closed, 3rd grade classes at North Allegheny would be 5-6 students higher than the average 3rd grade class size in other districts.

Class Size other schools AVG as of 1.31.13-page-001

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.

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?