Two companies donate to North Allegheny projects

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North Allegheny school board has accepted donations of labor and material for two district projects.

Burchick Construction Inc. of Ross constructed walls to convert part of the senior high school library into a student council office and a workroom. Cost of the project was $33,083.06. Student council contributed $15,000 and Burchick donated the balance, said board member Thomas Schwartzmier, chairman of the property and supplies committee.

Board members also accepted the donation of $400 worth of trees and approximately $600 in labor from Walt's Landscaping Inc. of Emsworth. The trees will replace trees that have died.

Both donations were accepted unanimously.

In other business, parents continued to complain about class sizes and the potential closing of Peebles Elementary School, and two parents complained about a school board member holding a coaching position.

Bill Lundgren said that his daughter's fourth-grade class at Hosack Elementary has 32 students, where the average in other states is 17 to 24 students.

He said he visited the classroom, and "there was hardly any room to maneuver around."

With that number of students, it is harder for students to get individualized attention, he said.

"A lack of attention leads them to lose interest in learning," he said.

"A good education is something that can never be taken away from you. Please do not take it from our children."

Kevin Mahler said studies show that class size is an important factor in student achievement, but there are few studies that look at the impact of class sizes of more than 30 elementary students.

"Teacher morale improves when class sizes are smaller," he said. "If class sizes are higher than neighboring districts, it may be harder to attract good teachers."

Diane Collery said a petition is being circulated, asking for the board to form a committee of residents and school officials to study whether Peebles should close.

The petition already has more than 900 signatures, she said.

"This is something that the community embraces and wants to be a part of," she said.

Alina and Philip Kurtanich renewed their request from 2010 and 2011 that school director Ralph Pagone not be allowed to coach girls' slow-pitch softball.

Mr. Pagone is a volunteer coach and is not paid. He reports to athletic director Bob Bozzuto who, in turn, reports to the superintendent and the school board. That is the "appearance of an impropriety," said Mrs. Kurtanich.

"It is easy for someone in a position of power to manipulate a subordinate, whether it is intentional or not intentional," Mr. Kurtanich said. "A permanent policy is needed. You, as board members, have a duty to make a decision. Delaying the decision is not an option."

Last year, Mr. Pagone was reappointed by a split board vote. At the time, board president Maureen Grosheider said the board would look at such a policy, but one was never developed. Mr. Pagone was reappointed unanimously last month.

Mr. Pagone would not comment on Mr. Kurtanichs' request.

Mrs. Grosheider said Mr. Pagone was recommended by Mr. Bozzuto for the position. "We have confidence in our athletic director ... if he feels he has the right coaches."

Player Kalynn Posati told board members that Mr. Pagone "is the best coach I have had in 13 years in playing softball."

In other matters, board member Beth Ludwig said the North Allegheny Foundation made $63,000 from its annual fashion show and golf outings. Foundation representatives are meeting with the parent/teacher organizations at all elementary schools to try and get parents to join the group.

The Foundation is using its funds this year to upgrade technology in the elementary schools.

education - neigh_north

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


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