When it meets Wednesday night, members of the North Allegheny School Board are expected to once again hear from parents opposed to the proposed closing of Peebles Elementary School. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of Carson Middle School.
The group, Save NA Schools, has been spearheading the opposition, and continues to ask for the creation of a community task force to participate in the decision making process.
Recently on its web site, the group outlined what it said are the negative impacts the closing will have on the district's six remaining elementary schools.
The information included on the Administration’s November 28th slides (detailed in recent posts) provides the basis for the following conclusions:
- Under the new model, the remaining buildings will see an increase in class size across several grade levels (especially grades 3-5).
- 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).
- Under the new model, the use of spare classrooms as regular classrooms makes the remaining buildings dependent on non-classrooms as spare classrooms.
- 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).
- Increase in class size and increase in sections meansthe remaining buildings will be operating above their Pennsylvania Department of Education target capacity and dangerously close to gross capacity.
The group also outlines is perceived impact on several individual schools.
- Marshall would pick up 138 new students if Peebles was closed.
- Its operating capacity would go from 79% to 95%.
- If current enrollment goes up, Marshall would have to use its YMCA room as a classroom. No other spare classrooms exist.
- McKnight would pick up 57 new students if Peebles was closed.
- Its operating capacity would go from 88% to 95%.
- If current enrollment goes up, McKnight would have to use its Student Assistance Room and Faculty Lounge as classrooms.
Bradford Woods Elementary
- Bradford Woods would pick up 36 new students if Peebles was closed.
- Its operating capacity would go from 74% to 81%.
- If current enrollment goes up, Bradford Woods would have to use its GOAL room and Life Skills room as classrooms.
- Ingomar would pick up 79 new students if Peebles was closed.
- Its operating capacity would go from 75% to 90%.
- If current enrollment goes up, Ingomar would have to use its Music room and GOAL room as classrooms.
At the school board meeting on Nov. 28, Superintendent Dr. Raymond Gualtieri told the board that closing Peebles would save the district, which is facing a $8-million deficit , $850,000 a year. He also argued that enrollment continues to decline and excess capacity exists at the elementary level.
Gualtieri suggested that the board hold a public hearing on the proposed closure in January, and schedule a vote in April.
The administration has outlined its reasoning's in detail on the North Allegheny School District web site.
On the North Allegheny web site, administrators make several other arguments to support the proposal:
- 15 years of study and experience have verified the district has excess capacity
- The School District can and will continue to deliver a high quality educational program in six elementary buildings.
- By closing Peebles, the District will become even more operationally efficient and fiscally responsible.
- When less money is spent on utilities, maintenance, and supplies and staffing - there is more money to invest in educational programs and services.
- A redistribution of students may even reduce class sizes of 30 or more by smoothing out enrollment patterns.
- The administration and its consultants have done an expert and exhaustive study of elementary facilities usage and projected enrollment trends.