North Allegheny's five-year plan to get vote

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Residents of the North Allegheny School District will be able to see what the district has planned for the next five years.

The district's proposed new comprehensive plan will be available for public inspection online. The school board heard an update of its new plan from administrators Sept. 18 and is scheduled to vote on the plan Nov. 20.

"Planning strategically for a district like ours is imperative," said Tammy Andreyko, assistant superintendent for advancement.

The plan covers the years 2014 through 2020 and includes new mission and vision statements.

The proposed mission statement is: "The mission of the North Allegheny School District is to prepare students for success in a changing world." The current mission statement is a 40-word sentence.

The new vision statement is "to be a premier school district that inspires excellence in academics, athletics, arts and activities for every student every day."

New goals include becoming a leader in innovative technology, maximizing efficiencies in all areas and collaborating on every level.

"The work that we do should be well-respected, not only in the community at large, but also in the state and nation," Ms. Andreyko said.

In other business, the board received the annual human resources report.

This year, the district added one administrator and three more teachers because of an increase in 52 elementary students.

Bradford Woods was the only elementary school to see a decrease in enrollment, by 12 students, according to the district's third-day enrollment figures.

The elementary schools in McCandless -- Hosack, McKnight and Peebles -- saw a total increase of 60 students.

Last year, the administration recommended closing Peebles because of excess classrooms. But a community group formed to fight the closing maintained that enrollment will increase in those schools as ownership of older homes turns over to young families.

Tara Fisher, a leader of the Save NA Schools group, who won nomination on both tickets for the board in the May primary, said the enrollment increase in McCandless proved the group's point.

"The increase in elementary enrollment resulted in 10 additional elementary sections this year. The three schools that saw the largest amount of growth were McKnight, Hosack, and Peebles. The district added nine elementary sections to these three buildings.

This confirms that, when classes operate within district guidelines, and future growth is taken into consideration, the district does not have the capacity to close an elementary school," she said.

The district did not add any elementary school counselors. Adding counselors was recommended in the department review last year, board member Linda Bishop said.

"A number of us ... on the counseling advisory committee heard loud and clear that our ratio at the elementary level is very unfavorable compared to other districts," she said.

Superintendent Raymond Gualtieri said 60 new teachers were hired this year, most to replace teachers who took advantage of an early retirement incentive.

The district received 2,500 applications for the 60 positions.

"At one point, they were in crates, lined up in the hallway," he said.

Half of the 60 new teachers are on the tenure track; the rest are long-term substitutes.

The district is allowed to replace tenured teachers with long-term substitutes -- at 70 percent of the pay -- for one year, which saves money, he said.

Board President Maureen Grosheider noted that 37 percent of the new teachers have master's degrees.

"That is a really nice percentage," she said. "People who come to us with master's degrees tend to be more skilled in the classroom."

education - neigh_north

Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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