Posts Tagged ‘spare classrooms’

Over the last 12 years, the district has adhered to an education model that kept elementary class sizes below the district’s guidelines (with only a few exceptions). This year, the district abandoned its successful education model by hiring fewer teachers and allowing class sizes to increase. As a result, there are currently 13 elementary sections operating above the district’s class size guidelines.

To correct class size, the administration said it would need to add 10-14 elementary sections.  However, the administration only expects to have 14 spare classrooms after closing Peebles and expanding McKnight.   If a building is closed, the district will not have enough classrooms to keep elementary class sizes below the district’s guidelines.   The only way the district has enough capacity to close a building is if it accepts higher class sizes for our current elementary school students than what has been provided to the district’s elementary school students over the last 12 years.

Thus, if a building is closed, the model in place for the past 12 years, which kept elementary class sizes below the district’s guidelines, will no longer be adhered to with respect to our current elementary school students.

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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.

One of those developments is Venango Trails, which is located in northern Marshall Township.

venango picstitch

From the August 17, 2011 School Board Minutes:

GrosBouquoteVenangp

BishopVenangoTrails

Based on the administration’s March 20th presentation to the school board, Marshall Elementary will only have 2 spare classrooms after students are redistricted from the closure of Peebles Elementary.

14 spares

With many classrooms operating close to district guidelines, the two spare classrooms at Marshall Elementary could be utilized by adding just a few new students to the building. The administration has not addressed how it will accommodate the large amount of growth projected from the Venango Trails development.

 

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Related posts

New Housing Developments in the North Allegheny School District
Video of School Board Member Linda Bishop’s Comments on Growth
Videos on School Board President’s Comments on Growth and Closing a Building
FACTS:
ISSUE:

If the administration needs to add 10-14 sections to keep elementary class sizes below the district’s guidelines, and only 14 spare classrooms are available after the district expands McKnight and closes Peebles, the remaining buildings would be left with no spare classrooms if class size is held within the district’s guidelines.

CONCLUSION:

The administration should withdraw its recommendation to close Peebles Elementary based on the following facts:

  • Elementary enrollment has increased over the last several years.
  • The district does not have enough classrooms to keep elementary class sizes below the district’s guidelines if a building is closed.
  • New housing developments are projected to add 850+ homes to the district.

If the board votes to close a building, the district will be wed to higher class sizes both now and in the future.

 

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14 spares

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.

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.

“If we close an elementary school, change will be felt throughout the system,” said Dr. Brian Miller, Assistant Superintendent for K-12 education. “If you remove a small school from our system, the entire system will be affected.” [PG Article, October 25, 2012.]

The information included on the Administration’s November 28th slides (detailed in recent posts) provides the basis for the following conclusions:

  1. Under the new model, the remaining buildings will see an increase in class size across several grade levels (especially grades 3-5).
  2. Under the new model, the remaining buildings will see an increase in sections across several grade levels (the only way to hold class sizes below district guidelines is by regularly operating spare classrooms as regular classrooms).
  3. Under the new model, the use of spare classrooms as regular classrooms makes the remaining buildings dependent on non-classrooms as spare classrooms.
  4. The use of non-classrooms as spare classrooms would displace programs integral to the elementary curriculum that are currently operating in those spaces (e.g. learning support, music, GOAL).
  5. Increase in class size and increase in sections means the remaining buildings will be operating above their Pennsylvania Department of Education target capacity and dangerously close to gross capacity.

We believe that the 5 points listed above compromise the district’s ability to deliver the same level of excellence in education under the new model that it does now.

Further, the Administration’s slides illustrate that the new model cannot reasonably accommodate an increase in student enrollment. If the district grows, it could face spending more money than it saved from closing a building.