Duquesne district seeks help from 11 neighbors

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Superintendents in 11 area school districts have been asked to consider taking students in grades K-6 from the Duquesne City School District, starting in the 2013-14 school year, as part of a plan devised by chief recovery officer Paul B. Long.

The recovery plan, made public Monday, recommended sending the approximately 440 elementary students to nearby districts through voluntary agreements, with Duquesne paying the districts $8,000 in tuition per student.

Upon release of the plan, Mr. Long sent emails to the superintendents of the Baldwin-Whitehall, Brentwood, East Allegheny, Elizabeth Forward, Gateway, Norwin, South Allegheny, South Park, West Jefferson Hills, West Mifflin and Pittsburgh Public school districts notifying them to expect a formal proposal from him regarding the Duquesne students by March 1. Attached to the email was a copy of his recovery plan.

Duquesne students in grades 7-12 attend either West Mifflin or East Allegheny school districts. Officials in those districts said they would not voluntarily accept more Duquesne students for the $8,000 tuition.

West Mifflin already has threatened to sue the state over the approximately $10,000 tuition currently paid for Duquesne secondary students, claiming it is below the tuition paid for Duquesne students to attend charter schools.

Officials in other districts, including Gateway and Norwin, said they were reviewing Mr. Long's email and recovery plan but had no comment.

Hamsini Rajgopal, acting superintendent of the West Jefferson Hills district, said she planned to discuss the issue with her board and solicitor but doubted there would be room for Duquesne students at her district's elementary schools because it recently completed a redistricting plan to deal with growing elementary enrollment.

Linda Hippert, executive director of Allegheny Intermediate Unit, said she didn't believe that any districts would be able to afford to take the Duquesne students for the $8,000 in tuition being offered.

"It just doesn't make financial sense," Mrs. Hippert said.

Duquesne school board President DeWayne Tucker said Duquesne parents do not want their elementary children bused as far away as South Park or Jefferson Hills.

The school board is scheduled to vote on Mr. Long's plan next Thursday.

education - neigh_south

Mary Niederberger: mniederberger@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1590.


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