North Allegheny redistricting plan unveiled

Rethink redistricting, parents ask school board

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When North Allegheny administrators unveiled their fourth and final redistricting plan at their work session earlier this month, they may have thought the plan answered all the opposition generated by the previous proposals.

But a new crop of opponents has surfaced.

Speakers told board members on Jan. 22 that the new plan, which moves fewer than 200 students, will not do enough to balance enrollment among the schools and ease overcrowding at Franklin Elementary and Ingomar Middle schools — possibly necessitating another shift in a few years.

“Moving forward with it, affecting such a small group, is just kicking the can down the road,” said John Harrison. “Instead of seven years, it will be two or three years.”

And parents and students who were not affected in the previous plans said they were blindsided to find that they are now scheduled to move into different elementary and middle schools.

“We were shocked,” said Sunil Kunala and Janaki Yalamarthy, residents of LaPlace Pointe apartments in Franklin Park. “This is very dismaying to us.”

LaPlace Pointe students were staying at Franklin Elementary in the original scenarios, but are proposed to move to Bradford Woods Elementary in the latest plan, while the housing plans on either side of the apartment complex are staying at Franklin.

Administrators changed the plan after Spring Ridge residents protested that their children would be moved out of Franklin.

Approximately 80 residents attended the Jan. 22 meeting, most wearing stickers telling board members to “vote NO” on the plan next month. More than 20 people spoke in opposition to the plan, including three students.

Braden Frank, a fifth-grader at Franklin, said he was looking forward to moving with his friends to Ingomar Middle, but now may be one of only 20 students who will move to Marshall Middle School.

The travel distance coupled with his extracurricular activities will impact his ability to get his homework done at a reasonable time, he said.

“Do you remember what it was like to be 11 years old,” he asked the board. “Can you honestly think it is good for an 11-year-old to work on homework at 9 o’clock at night?”

Others spoke about the small number of children who will be moved.

Parent Cara Tripoli noted that only one of 92 students in Franklin’s second grade, and only three of 84 third-graders would be moved to Bradford Woods under the plan.

“My fifth-grader moves onto Carson Middle School knowing two children. My second-grader moves to McKnight (Elementary) knowing four,” said Holly Kinzler. “What a transition for both children.”

Several speakers noted that middle school is enough of a transition for students without adding the stress of moving to a different school than their friends.

“Isn’t taking us away from our friends taking away some of our confidence?” asked Katie Oates, a fifth-grader at Franklin. “Be the voice of the 10 percent of students who … do not want to leave their confidence at the front door of Franklin Elementary.”

Two speakers, Krista Kollitz and Robert Sobehart, reminded the new board members who were elected on a wave of opposition to the proposed closing of Peebles Elementary School last year, that the group received support from parents in other areas.

“This past fall, you asked us for our vote,” said Mr. Sobehart. “Please look at the impact for our children and give us your votes.”

The board is expected to vote on the redistricting plan Feb. 19.

Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer:

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