Posts Tagged ‘school board’

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 rryan@northallegheny.org
  3. Sign up as at www.savenaschools.com 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 savenaschools@gmail.com 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)
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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

In 2011, Bradford Woods was recommended for closure based on a projected decline in the district’s enrollment. The following statements were made by school board members in regards to the declining enrollment projections:

Source: August 17, 2011 School Board Minutes

“Mrs. Grosheider pointed out that 10 years ago, the projected enrollment for the District for last year was 7,187. In reality it was 8,126.”

“Mrs. Grosheider said it was a voluminous report and she would have appreciated an Executive Summary to help her pull the report together. She said that a 100% utilization rate at a middle school or a secondary school is more doable than at an elementary school because an elementary school tends to be neighborhood-oriented. She said if we are already at 100% capacity in an elementary school and a new family moves into the neighborhood, they would have to go to another elementary school, and that is not the way that we do business. She was informed that a number of new plans have just been approved in Franklin Park. We are getting about 80% of the school age children who live in North Allegheny; she would like a goal of getting 90% of those students and our challenge is to make sure that more of those children come to North Allegheny. She does not think that closing buildings is the best way to make that happen. Her personal goal is to ensure that the District has a great product and a great education to make it attractive to everyone in the District.”

Source: September 28, 2011 School Board Minutes

“Mr. Hubert noted that in the last five years, enrollment has increased by 2.2% overall; five years prior to that, it was down 3.4%, and for the next upcoming five years, it is projected down to 2.7%, and he challenges those numbers. He said with the economy being what it is, which is pushing people back to the public school system, and with the quality that NASD brings to the table, people migrate to North Allegheny. He does not believe that those numbers take these facts into consideration.”

“Mrs. Bishop said this past year, the live birth number was low and the downward trend started in 2000. However, she does not see a direct correlation between the birth data and class sizes. She thinks new housing plays a greater role in predicting what is going on than the live birth data.”

“The Board is very optimistic that, in light of the excellent education the District offers and the recent national recognition that both Wexford and McCandless have received for being outstanding suburbs that have excellent schools, people will continue to move into our District so that their children can enroll in our schools.”

“Mrs. Grosheider pointed out that for the six-year actual enrollments, the numbers have grown, but in the numbers that are projected, we go down. We need to be cognizant of that fact because we are looking at closing buildings and having empty seats. But our numbers are consistent overall and are actually growing. She reiterated the fact that we provide a very good education for the kids in this District and we need to sell that to the people.”

——–

Related posts:

Trib article: Community group questions North Allegheny enrollment projections

Letter to the Editor: Decline in student enrollment never materializes

SaveNASchools Community report

Open notice to the Community!

MEETING AT PEEBLES FIRE Station ON SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9th at 8pm.(Located 1391 Duncan Avenue)

This meeting will address how the closure of Peebles Elementary will impact the rest of the district (elementary and middle schools), how to best express your concerns to school board members, and how to get the message out to other members of the community.

This meeting will also address the board’s next action in scheduling a public hearing for January 30th. We need the community to unite in a stance against the closure of a top performing elementary school in the heart of the North Allegheny school district that will negatively impact all of the district’s remaining elementary schools.

Questions?  Email us at  saveNAschools@gmail.com

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

1) If an elementary school is closed, the remaining buildings will have to accommodate more classes than what they were designed for; this will have a direct impact on classroom space and programs integral to the elementary curriculum.

a. The remaining buildings will have to use spare rooms as regular classrooms. For example, buildings designed to run three sections of 1st and 2nd grade would be required to run four sections under the new model (e.g. Bradford Woods, Franklin, Hosack, and Ingomar). As a result, each building will lose two of its spare rooms.
b. The loss of spare rooms means the administration has identified “other spares” to be used as classrooms. For example, at Marshall Elementary, the 4th Centrium, GOAL room, and YMCA room have been identified as spare classrooms. At McKnight elementary, the ESL room, Student Assistance Room, and faculty lounge have been identified as spare classrooms. In other buildings, spare classrooms include learning support rooms, orchestra rooms, and faculty lounges.

2) If all intended classrooms are filled to district guidelines, there are 3,960 seats under the new model and there will be limited ability to keep class sizes below district guidelines based on current enrollment.

a. The 3,960 seat capacity assumes all small elementary buildings are loaded with 540 students (e.g. Bradford Woods, Franklin, Hosack, and Ingomar). To put this in perspective, Franklin has a current enrollment of 515 students and they are currently using a faculty lounge as a classroom. If the district lowers its target to 510 students per building, they will only have 3,720 seats, which is close to current enrollment.
b. The district’s current elementary enrollment is 3,548 students, which represents 90 percent of the new capacity (3,548 current enrollment/3,960 new capacity). This will make it difficult to keep class sizes below district guidelines. For example, there are currently 638 students in third grade and there are 22 third grade classes under the new model. Assuming a perfectly equal distribution of students across buildings, there would be 29 students in every third grade class (638 students/22 sections of third grade). Without a perfectly equal distribution across buildings, several third grade classes could exceed the district guideline of 30 students per classroom.

3) If current enrollment goes up, the district would not have the ability to reasonably accommodate extra students and would face spending more money than it saved from closing a school.

a. To date, the financial benefit of closing a school has been estimated at 1% or less of the district’s annual operating budget. The district’s annual budget is approximately $126 million and cost savings are estimated at $500,000-$1.5 million.
b. The district’s ability to close a school is based on a decline in student enrollment. Given Allegheny County is experiencing positive migration, and there are new housing starts in the townships of Marshall, McCandless, and Franklin, the decision to close a school based on a model that can’t accommodate future growth could be fiscally irresponsible because the district would encounter future costs to accommodate additional students.

4) Based on the 1997 Bozzomo model- a model that uses a target capacity of 450 students (instead of 540) for each small elementary school- the remaining buildings would operate at 89% of target capacity if all buildings remain open and the district “balances enrollment” by moving students from overcrowded buildings into those that are less crowded.

a. The new model “creates capacity” by adding 90 students to each small elementary school without adding any classrooms or additional space. The new elementary education model increases the target capacity of the small elementary buildings from 450 to 540 students by using spare classrooms as regular classrooms and accepting North Allegheny School District (NASD) guidelines of 30 students in grades 3 through 5 (instead of 25 students).’
b. If enrollment at the elementary schools is considered in reference to a 450 target capacity (instead of 540), then the schools would be operating at 89% of target capacity if all buildings remain open. This is calculated by taking the balanced enrollment totals for each building (based on Mr. Botti’s November 14th presentation) and dividing by a 450 target capacity: BWE = 400/450 = 88.89%, FES = 403/450 = 89.56%, HES = 408/450 = 90.67%, IES = 401/450 = 89.11%, PES = 397/450 = 88.22%.
c. If the district keeps all elementary buildings open, only 264 students would be redistricted (instead of the estimated 503-1031 students if a building is closed).

5) Over the past few months, elementary parents have suggested other options for addressing the district’s projected budget deficits. These ideas include outsourcing transportation, advertising on the district’s website, and reducing the “other” expense items listed in the district’s budget.

***Members of the community are encouraged to attend the school board meeting on November 28th at 7pm in the Carson Middle School Auditorium and become part of the ongoing discussions surrounding this recommendation.***

A consultant, and the district’s director of transportation and operations insist the district has too much capacity at the elementary school level.

 

North Allegheny parents hoping to get an answer to their request for a community task force’s involvement in any potential school closing decisions were left wondering again Wednesday night. The meeting, which lasted more that three hours, ended without the issue ever being addressed by the board.

As has been the pattern since the beginning of the school year, the meeting opened with a half dozen parents making impassioned pleas againt a proposed closing of one of the district’s seven elementary schools.

A consultant has recommended closing Peebles Elementary, arguing that district has too few students, and too much elementary classroom space.

At the board’s last meeting, on Oct. 24 , Dr. Brian Miller, assistant superintendent of K-12 Education, presented a nearly one-hour demographics and feasibility study which concluded that the closing of an elementary school would not increase class size, nor impact the quality of programs now offered at North Allegheny elementary schools.

Tara Fisher, a parent, suggested Wednesday night that Miller’s assessment left no room for error.

“Current enrollment, under this proposal means each elementary school will be at 90-percent of capacity,” she said. “We do not have enough excess capacity to close an elementary school building in this district. I encourage you to consider that these students get one shot at a solid elementary education, one shot at third grade, one shot at reading, writing and arithmetic, a foundation that will last them a lifetime, and we, as a North Allegheny community need to give them our best. They deserve the best, and we can not offer them the best if we close an elementary school.”

Consultant Jon Thomas told the board, that even with a slight uptick in the birth rate, he still projects that the elementary school enrollment will continue to decline.

Roger Botti, North Allegheny’s director of transportation and operations, presented four redistricting scenarios and their impact on the entire elementary school class.

  1. Close Peebles or Hosack Elementary schools: Approximately 500 students would change schools.
  2. Close Peebles or Hosack Elementary schools: (different redistricting map) Approximately 650 students would change schools.
  3. Close Bradford Woods Elementary school: Approximately 1,000 students would change schools
  4. Leave all current schools open, and balance enrollment, 264 students would move.

Botti’s last proposal drew a round of applause.

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, and so far, board President Maureen Grosheider has indicated the board doesn’t have enough information to make a decision.

Parents, such as Wendy Lukish, said they would continue to fight any school closing, insisting it will lead to overcrowded classrooms.

“How are our teachers going to be able to teach? They’re not going to be good at it and our children are going to suffer,” she said. “My husband is a graduate of North Hills and when we were looking for homes, we had to decide between North Hills or North Allegheny. Not being from Pennsylvania, I didn’t know any different, and my husband said, North Allegheny is an elite school, we need to live in that district. So we moved here. So I implore you to look at these numbers, look at what these schools are going to look like, and that people are going to suffer, as will the future of this district.”

For more information on parent’s efforts to form a community task force about the proposed school closings, click www.saveNAschools.com.

http://northallegheny.patch.com/articles/north-allegheny-school-board-makes-no-decision-on-task-force-involvement-in-potential-school-closings?ncid=newsltuspatc00000001