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More Than 100 Sign Up to Speak at Hearing on Proposal to Close Peebles Elementary

With each speaker allotted five minutes, the hearing before the North Allegheny School Board Wednesday night has the potential to last more than eight hours.

The North Allegheny School District Board of Directors will conduct a public hearing on the question of whether or not to permanently close Peebles Elementary School, at 7 tonight in the Carson Middle School Auditorium. 

And it is likely to be a long night.

According to the community group Save NA schools, which has been fighting for months against the closing of any elementary school in the district, at least 106 people have signed up to speak.

When the board  it stated that "any interested member of the public may address the board one time for a period not in excess of five minutes."  

If every speaker uses his or her allotted time, the hearing could last well more than eight hours.

It's not clear if the board is willing to let the hearing continue for an extended period of time or if it is willing to continue it at a later date. School Board President Maureen Grosheider was unavailable for comment.

At the school board meeting Nov. 28, Superintendent Dr. Raymond Gualtieri told the board that closing Peebles would save $850,000 annually for the district, which is facing a $5.7 million deficit. He also argued that the district's enrollment continues to decline and that its elementary schools are not full and have room for Peebles students.

Save NA Schools argues that the district's enrollment projections are inaccurate and that closing any elementary school will ultimately lead to "larger class sizes and will compromise the district's ability to deliver excellence in education."

The group repeatedly has asked the board to form a community task force which would provide additional ideas for addressing the district's projected budget deficits prior to a decision on closing an elementary school. It's not clear what, if any, power the task force would hold and who would be part of it. The board has not addressed that request.

To read more on the administration's arguments for closing Peebles Elementary, click here.

To read the counter-arguments from Save NA schools, click here.

Are you planning to speak at tonight's hearing? What are you planning to say? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

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Brett C. Williams January 30, 2013 at 09:28 PM
Of all the cost cutting measures, this one needs the most time to act upon. The decision to close a school is a district wide impact. It changes the dynamics of before\after school care, may have emotional impacts on the children, class sizes will increase, spaces not designed to be class rooms will be used for education, tax revenue will be spent on renovations, not education. And it's frightening to think that the Board does not have a feasible plan in the event that their projections are wrong. It's not like they can just reopen Peebles. This isn't like shutting a vent in a room that you don't use. There will be vast repercussion based on this decision.

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