Posts Tagged ‘Peebles’

North Allegheny Patch

Karen Boujoukos Elected to North Allegheny School Board

During a public interview Wednesday night with the North Allegheny School Board, board candidate Karen Boujokos promised that, thanks to her 10 years of prior service on the board, she would be able to “hit the ground running.”

To read more, click here.

North Allegheny Superintendent Recommends Delay In Closing Peebles Elementary

To the surprise of several members of the North Allegheny School Board, Superintendent Raymond Gualtieri recommended Wednesday night a one-year delay in the proposed closing of Peebles Elementary School.

To read more, click here.


  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Karen Boujoukos appointed to North Allegheny school board

Karen Boujoukos on Wednesday was appointed to the North Allegheny school board.  Mrs. Boujoukos, of Franklin Park, served on the board for 10 years, leaving the board in 2011.

To read more, click here.

If North Allegheny closes Peebles, transition would take one year

If the North Allegheny School Board votes in May to close Peebles Elementary School, the move will not take effect until the 2014-15 school year.

To read more, click here.

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.

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:

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.


The California Department of Education has issued a best practices guide that outlines what steps should be taken prior to closing a school. Based on these standards, the district’s administration failed to perform adequate due diligence prior to making the recommendation to close Peebles Elementary.

1. Establish a District Advisory Committee-“it is a legislative intent, but not a mandate, for a district to have and use a District Advisory Committee (DAC) before decisions are made about school closure. But whether an intent or a mandate, the advice is good.”

  • “The job of the superintendent and board members is to evaluate facts, not gather them. And the process of gathering the facts must be as credible, transparent and non-political as possible.”
  • “At the very least, the DAC should be involved in the fact-finding necessary for an informal recommendation about school closure.”
  • “The DAC should be expanded to include a cross-section of community members who have an interest in and may be affected by school closures.”

The school board has not addressed a petition with 1,000+ taxpayer signatures requesting a district-wide community task force, despite numerous requests by community members and taxpayers over a 4-month period. The petition was submitted into the public record on January 30, 2013.

2. Evaluate the condition of each building- “one in good repair may be the best school facility in the district, in spite of its declining enrollment. It may be better to close an at-capacity but physically mediocre school;”

  • Have short term and long term renovation plans been determined and evaluated for each building?
  • What are the expected maintenance costs for each building?

Prior to recommending the closure of Peebles, the administration did not present the school board with a schedule for the projected maintenance costs for Bradford Woods, despite estimated repairs being anywhere from $8-14 million. Instead, at the Nov 28, 2012 school board meeting, Facilities Director Rob Gaertner said he was “deferring” the costs on the dated roof and HVAC system at Bradford Woods for five years. School Board Director Chris Jacobs asked Mr. Gaertner, “is that realistic?”

3. Determine the operating cost of each building- “operating costs may vary from school to school. Some schools use energy more efficiently, some schools need less maintenance, and some schools have minimal transportation costs.”

  • Has the administration determined the per-student operating cost at each building?

The only operating costs the administration presented to the school board prior to making the recommendation to close Peebles Elementary were the operating costs for Peebles Elementary. This occured at the Oct 24, 2012 school board meeting.

4. Investigate the cost of transportation for each building- “part of the decision to close a school should be based upon what transportation costs will be saved, and what new transportation costs will be incurred, once a school is closed and its students redistributed.”

  • Have detailed transportation costs been determined for each building?

At the November 14, 2012 school board meeting, Transportation Director Roger Botti presented ONE redistricting scenario related to closing Bradford Woods that showed 1,000+ students would be moved. Two scenarios were presented for a Peebles/Hosack closure that showed  500-600 students would be moved.  No detailed calculations were provided, no redistricting maps were shown, and a right-to-know request for further data was denied.

5. Determine the value of each building –“if maximizing revenue from the sale or lease of surplus schools is part of the decision regarding which school to close, then a property appraisal and assessment of the interests in and proposed uses for each property are vital.”

  • Have appraisals been conducted for each building?
  • Has the value of a possible sale/lease of each building been determined for each building?

Appraisals have not been conducted for each building nor has the value of a possible sale/lease for each building been presented by the administration to the school board.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Peebles backers speak to North Allegheny school board

By Sandy Trozzo

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Members of the Save NA Schools group are confident they got their message — don’t close Peebles Elementary School — across to the North Allegheny school board during a seven-hour public hearing that didn’t adjourn until 2:20 a.m. last Thursday. But superintendent Raymond Gualtieri’s statement following testimony suggested the group still may face an uphill battle.

Board members will vote in May on an administration proposal to close the school, which is in McCandless.

“We feel the hearing could not have gone any better. We had over 100 speakers advocating on behalf of keeping Peebles elementary open, and not one speaker came forward advocating for the closing of the building,” said Tara Fisher, one of the leaders of the citizens’ group, Save NA Schools. “I think we’ve given them a lot to think about. We made a lot of educated, well-thought-out arguments.”

Speakers during the Jan. 30 public hearing were from all seven elementary schools, although most represented Peebles and Hosack.

TribLive Logo

Study of North Allegheny’s Peebles Elementary scrutinized

Several parents hold up graphs showing an increase in enrollment in the North Allegheny School District during a public hearing about the possibility of closing Peebles Elementary School at Carson Middles School on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Staff Reporter Rick Wills

North Allegheny School District residents opposed to closing Peebles Elementary School are questioning why an engineer conducted a recent study of the school for free.

Alan Lilienthal, a Peebles parent, wondered whether it is appropriate for the district to have accepted a free study.

“I also wonder why anyone would work for free, unless there was something to gain down the road,” said Lilienthal, of McCandless.

But Jon Thomas, of Thomas & Williamson Program Management of Ross, said the district asked him to do a demographic and feasibility study.

“They came to me and said, ‘Can you help out?’ I said, ‘I’d be honored to help out,’ ” said Thomas.

Read more:

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!


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

Today is the last day to email the school board secretary to register to speak at the public hearing on Wednesday, January 30th.  We are urging all residents to register to speak and advocate for the district’s successful elementary education model by keeping all seven schools open.

The more residents that register,  the more powerful the public record.

Please register today to have your voice be heard.

ALL NON-PEEBLES PARENTS, please make the following statement before you begin your remarks: “I AM NOT A PEEBLES PARENT, I AM AN [INGOMAR] PARENT.”

Each parent that makes this statement will help remind the board that this proposal impacts 3,500+ elementary students– not just the students at Peebles Elementary.

To register to speak at the hearing, you simply need to email Rose Mary Ryan, Board Secretary, at and state, “I would like to register to speak at the public hearing on January 30th.  Please confirm receipt.”  This will meet the requirement of a “formal written request.”  You will have 5 minutes to make your statement and no questions will be asked of you.

You must register before 3pm.

Please note:  If you have addressed the school board in the past, none of your prior comments are included in the public record for the hearing.  To have your comments be part of the public record for closing the school, you must speak at the public hearing.  You do not have to come up with a new topic, a new subject, or even new words– please feel free to use notes or content from your past statements.

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

At this week’s school board meeting, Mr. Pagone and Mr. Jacobs continued to challenge colleagues over the proposed plan to close Peebles.  Mr. Pagone made a motion to indefinitely postpone the public hearing and it was seconded by Mr. Jacobs.  The only challenge to the motion was from Ms. Ludwig, which prompted a heated exchange.  You can watch a video of the exchange by linking to the article on the NA Patch website.

The administration has proposed closing Peebles Elementary, but the school board is still undecided on the issue. It is the 9 school board members who have the power to close a building. The administration does NOT have power to do anything other than make the recommendation.

SaveNASchools encourages all North Allegheny residents to get involved in the effort to SAVE ALL SEVEN elementary schools in the district.

Top Ten Ways To Get Involved

  1. Attend the January 30th Public Hearing at 7pm in the Carson Middle School Auditorium
  2. Register to speak by emailing school board secretary, Rose Mary Ryan
  3. Sign up as at to receive information and updates
  4. Forward the emails from SaveNASchools to friends and neighbors
  5. Like our Facebook page
  6. Write a letter to the editor at the Post Gazette or Tribune Review
  7. Contact school board members by mail or by phone
  8. Invite friends and neighbors to attend the Jan. 30th hearing with you
  9. Volunteer to distribute flyers about the Public Hearing in your neighborhood (email us!)
  10. Email with other ideas.

School board members Ralph Pagone and Chris Jacobs voted “no” to scheduling a public hearing for the closure of Peebles. Thus, they already agree that proceeding with closing Peebles, given the current facts, is not in the best interest of the district.

The following three school board members are open-minded, friendly, and still undecided on the issue. If you want to write a letter or make a phone call to a school board member, we recommend focusing your efforts on these three members. As a taxpayer and citizen, it is your democratic right to lobby elected officials.  The contact information for all school board members is made public on the district’s website. It has been provided here for your convenience.

  • Libby Blackburn 1015 Woodland Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237 412-364-0314
  • Joseph Greenberg, Ph.D. 1000 Woodland Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237 412-635-9520
  • Thomas C. Schwartzmier 2538 Cole Road, Wexford, PA 15090 724-935-4964

Additional members of the school board include:

  • Maureen M. Grosheider, President 103 Quail Hollow Lane, Wexford, PA 15090 724-935-2134
  • Daniel E. Hubert, Vice President 200 Wally Nue Court, Wexford, PA 15090 724-935-1355
  • Linda Bishop 1180 Woodland Road, Baden, PA 15005 724-772-2371
  • Beth A. Ludwig 231 Edelweiss Drive, Wexford, PA 15090 724-933-0234
  • *Christopher M. Jacobs 3966 N. Monet Court, Allison Park, PA 15101 412-487-1479
  • *Ralph J. Pagone 8761 Casa Grande Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15237 412-635-7155 (work)