North Allegheny school board OKs hires, promotions

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North Allegheny school board members approved three administrative appointments, honored departing board members and heard more concerns from parents in Franklin Park and Marshall about proposed redistricting.

Amanda Mathieson, interim principal of Hosack Elementary School, was named permanent principal at a prorated salary of $110,000. Ms. Mathieson previously was assistant principal at Ingomar Middle School and assistant principal at Marshall Elementary School. She joined North Allegheny in 2008.

Marc Thornton was hired as principal of Marshall Elementary School at a prorated salary of $110,000. He is principal of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Mt. Lebanon, and was previously principal of Seville and West View elementary schools in North Hills School District.

Katherine Curran was hired as coordinator of academic technology and instructional services at a prorated salary of $95,000. Ms. Curran is coordinator of educational technology for the Norwin School District.

Mr. Thornton and Ms. Curran will start as soon as they are released from their current school districts.

In other action, the board approved an administrative request to the state Department of Education to combine the intermediate and senior high schools under one identification number.

By having the two high schools identified by one number, it will put the district on par, as far as reporting test scores and other accomplishments, with other districts that only have one high school building, said Superintendent Raymond Gualtieri.

The board also approved the 2014-2020 Comprehensive Plan.

Member Linda Bishop said one of the goals in the current comprehensive plan was to become one of the top 100 districts in the country, and that has been achieved.

"I am very glad to see the top 100 goal not only remains in the comprehensive plan that we are approving tonight but it is the number 1 goal," she said. "I hope that the board and the administration will continue that laser-beam-type focus on the top 100 goal."

The meeting was the last one for Mrs. Bishop, Karen Boujoukos and Dan Hubert.

"Those of us who work with them recognize their extraordinary commitment [and] work ethic," said board President Maureen Grosheider. "They have moved this district forward, and that is what it is all about."

A dozen residents of Franklin Park and Marshall addressed the board about proposed redistricting plans.

Five residents of the Spring Ridge neighborhood in Franklin Park, whose children would move to Marshall elementary and middle school under the plan, urged board members to move another neighborhood.

Barbara Fink asked why the district isn't considering an addition to Franklin Elementary, which is over capacity.

"Picking up and moving them around is not what I expected in North Allegheny," she said. "We chose to build our house in Franklin Park so that our children will attend a small elementary school, Franklin, and a renowned middle school, Ingomar."

Rahul Telang and Nicolee Wisnewski asked the district to instead move children from a nearby apartment complex.

"It is harder for homeowners and taxpaying individuals to move," said Ms. Wisnewski. "Prioritize the needs of taxpayers over those who do not contribute without impacting the permanent residents."

But John Harrison of McCandless said that apartment dwellers pay taxes as part of their rent. "Every piece of property pays taxes in the district," he said.

Also, residents of the Franklintowne neighborhood protested their children being moved from Ingomar Elementary to McKnight. Franklintowne was moved in the past two reconfigurations -- 20 years ago and again in 2006, said Sonya Zahorchak.

"It is not necessary to continue to move the same neighborhood three times. The same families are being affected repeatedly," she said.

Some parents from Marshall Elementary asked why that school is affected by both gaining and losing students.

"It makes no sense to me to move kids out of Marshall, just to move kids into Marshall. Why not move Franklin kids to Bradford Woods," asked Maggie Pople, who is president of the Marshall Elementary Parent-Faculty Association.

Adding a historical perspective was Barbara Smith, whose children were moved twice, from the former Espe Elementary to McKnight, then to Marshall. They thrived everywhere, and today's students will do the same, she said.

"They're all NA schools. They're all good schools," she said. "Change is not bad. There are good teachers in all the schools. It's going to happen. It's not a terrible thing."

Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer:

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