Duquesne Elementary students likely to remain in place for 2013-14

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The receiver for the Duquesne school board is expected to make an announcement tonight about where the district's K-6 students will attend school in the fall and all indications are they will remain in Duquesne.

Paul B. Long, who was appointed receiver for the district earlier this month by Common Pleas Judge Judith L.A. Friedman, will make his announcement at his first "receiver business meeting" at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Duquesne Education Center.

While Mr. Long would not confirm before the meeting that Duquesne's elementary students will remain in their home district for another year, he acknowledged that he has not reached an agreement with the Pittsburgh Public Schools to take the students.

Mr. Long has held meetings with Pittsburgh financial administrators and solicitor Ira Weiss in recent weeks about the possibility of taking Duquesne students. Mr. Long asked 11 districts to consider taking some or all of Duquesne's 350 K-6 students for $8,000 in tuition per student as part of his financial recovery plan for Duquesne, and Pittsburgh is the only district to discuss the request. The others declined.

"The [Pittsburgh] district does not have an agreement with the Duquesne School District or any other entity, including the Department of Education regarding the Duquesne students," Mr. Weiss said.

Mr. Weiss said the Pittsburgh school board has not discussed the issue but likely will do so sometime. He said even if an agreement could be reached between the districts, "it would be no sooner than the fall of 2014" that Pittsburgh could take the Duquesne students.

Mr. Long's plan calls for sending Duquesne students within a 10-mile radius of Duquesne. Pittsburgh schools that fall into that radius are Pittsburgh Mifflin, Greenfield and Colfax, which are all K-8 schools, and Pittsburgh Minadeo K-5.

Duquesne students in grades 7-12 attend either West Mifflin Area or East Allegheny school districts through special legislation created in 2007 after Duquesne High School was closed. Those districts have declined Mr. Long's request to take Duquesne's elementary students on a voluntary basis and the legislation that mandated the districts to accept the secondary students does not apply to elementary students.

Tonight's receiver meeting will be run by Mr. Long, who will present each of the agenda items he is authorizing. The elected school board has no formal voice in the meeting, but will have seats reserved in the front row and has a place reserved on the agenda for members comments.

Monthly receiver meetings will replace the previous school board meetings, with business being conducted by Mr. Long. While Mr. Long has full authority to operate the district, the elected board must vote on financial matters such as setting the tax rate and approving any increases or refinancing of the district's debt.

Mr. Long said he hopes the elected board continues to meet with him and voice opinions about the district's operations. "The elected board still exists," he said.

Mr. Long said there is enough money in the district's budget to operate the K-6 program for 2013-14 and to add enhancements such as more professional development for teachers, curriculum alignment and the rehiring of academic coaches, who were eliminated in recent years.

education - neigh_south

Mary Niederberger can be reached at mniederberger@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1590.


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